Syrian War and some thoughts

Spent the last couple of weeks watching hours of videos about the FSA against the Syrian Army.

These small groups of guys are going against tanks and BMP’s (troop carriers). There are a number of “people” producing a large amount of videos each with their own political agenda, either pro Assad or pro FSA or pro Jihad. So depending on what side of the political spectrum you fall on  you could be cheering or jeering. For a pro Assad view complete with Russian narration is from ANNA news. Russian influence in Syria has been well documented for over a generation now. They are providing a huge amount of material, logistical and military advisement in the current conflict. And lets not leave out the Iranians. They are deeply involved in Syria protecting their own interests.

Personally I don’t really care either way. I just watched for my own education and to glean any sort of tactics.

My first impression, this conflict is pure mid evil in its truest sense. If you spend anytime looking at any of the videos you will see a complete destruction of a city (cities) in particular Darayya which is a suburb of Damascus. All of the buildings are pretty much rubble. Not from shelling in the literal sense but from Syrian tanks “clearing” buildings.

It seems as though and from what I have read there is a real sense of apprehension by the SAA of not wanting to send troops into an area without the mechanized units clearing the street first. I can understand why after also reading the SAA  has been forced to use conscription for lack or volunteers. Coupled with the fact that the average trooper is woefully unprepared, under equiped and untrained for urban combat the Syrian Army is so stretched for manpower at this point in time there is little they can do but engage in wholesale raising of city blocks. Ironically Mosques have not been spared in the destruction.

I would imagine the Iranian and Russian advisers have not raised any moral objections to any of these actions either. If you look back at Grozny and the complete destruction of that city in the 90’s it is no wonder that most Syrian cities are looking the same today as Grozny looked back then. When you have the Russian’s advising it really is no wonder.

That’s not to say we were less discreet while we were in Iraq, but I think we were a bit more pin point in our heavy weapons utilization.

Not having any exposure to mechanized operations, either in an urban or open plains environment I really don’t have frame of reference on what the Syrians are doing right or wrong in their operations.

A couple of things I did see where most Syrian FOB’s are just a bulldozed areas in and around destroyed buildings. You see no real outer perimeter for defense, housing, medical or dining facilities, just a burned out building that functions as one center of operations. All the fueling and repairs are done in this half block area. Some of the videos show what seems to be a HQ type of group of individuals that use one of the taller buildings as an over watch directing (and not knowing Farsi or Arabic I can surmise) they are controlling and telling the tank crews when are where to shoot.

There just seems to be so much random firing of weapons it is hard to tell what they are trying to accomplish other than just blowing shit up. There is no effort by the infantry to follow-up, clear and hold any buildings. My feeling is, the SAA rolls in during the day, blows buildings up, leave, and then the FSA or other groups to come back at night and reclaim lost territory and plant IED’s and set up positions for the next encounter. If the infantry does hold a building, it eventually is lost to rebels in ground fighting with no support.

A few other observations.  Each “team” seems to roll out with 2-4 tanks and 2-4 BMP’s in the center of the column. Rarely do you see troops embarking or disembarking. Each unit either is flying up and down the highway or they each take a turn making a loop shooting at a particular building then repeating. Tanks or BMP’s don’t seem to stay in one spot for very long. I take this as crews and there overwatch do not want them to stay in one place very long. They seem to be keenly aware of becoming sitting ducks to anti tank or RPG fire.

Most of the Tanks and BMP’s are in poor repair. Reactive armor, skirting and various external pieces of hardware are partially missing or completely gone. I take this as a result of poor resupply and logistics in general. There are some videos that show large amounts of boogie wheels and treads littering the roads. Not sure if these are from disabled units that where later towed off or damaged wheels discarded randomly.

Most of the urban tanks are of the T-70 variants, 72’s, 78’s etc. Watching videos of less urbanized areas you see older T-60 variants. Makes sense to put a more hardened vehicle in an urban area. A large number of the T-70’s style tanks have what looks like reactive armor but could be just the steel  outer shell that holds the reactive type underneath. Whatever it is, they seem to bounce a lot when the tanks are moving down a street and apear to be just a shell vice anything heavy attached underneath. Whatever it is, they don’t seem to stop the ATM’s that the FSA uses. With  losses the SAA has taken I don’t think there is much thought in crew protection anymore. A number of the videos show complete destruction with turrets blown off the chassis. Some research I have done on the T-78’s, show they are designed with a flaw and have a problem with ammunition exploding prematurely when hit from underneath or the rear. These Tanks have no CASE systems installed and the charges are stored below the feet of the gunner. Not a good place for storage against IDE’s or a good RPG shot.

There is no time reference of the videos. All the operations flow into each other in what seems as an attempt to show on going and 24×7 operations. The amount of fuel that must be maintained has to be tremendous. Most of the T-70 variant tanks have a 1000 plus horsepower engines. Range is measured in gallons and not so much in miles. I can’t imagine more than an operation every couple of days based on the lack of logistical support and spares.

If you’re interested, ANNA News has the best videos of all that are out there. They attach GoPro cameras to the vehicles for some pretty good views of the shooting for the Russian consumer TV market.

From this Tank amateurs point  of view, the SAA is pretty beat up from the insurgency they have been fighting for the past number of years. I personally don’t see it getting any easier for them. The tankers are not trained professionals by any stretch and are really running and gunning for all they are worth. But Soviet material is designed for the peasant to jump in and operate with little training or knowledge.

I personally still cannot get past the absolute destruction of some of these cities. It will be generations before things get back to a “normal” state with the infrastructure destroyed on so many levels.




How would you handle this situation

I ran across this video the other morning and thought, holy cow! what would I do in this situation?



At about the 12 second mark you can see a construction sign on the right side of the road. So I understand where the traffic cones came from.

A couple of things that pop into my head are, this is New Germany (New Jersey) so the chances of this driver having a firearm near-by to employ in this situation are pretty close to zero if he/she needed to protect them self. Another is, one could just blow through the cones. If dude wants to stand in the road and take his chances with a 2500 lbs vehicle then that would be his decision. He has no hazards on his vehicle, and is no where near dressed like a construction worker. His body language is telling me, that there is no injury either of him or a passenger or that there is a vehicle issue. This is purely a robbery attempt.

A driver could stop well in front of the “road block” assess the situation and make a go/no go determination. At this point you can either go forward or backward and from the looks of it there isn’t to much traffic to get in the way of backing out of this situation. Also by keeping distance in front of the road block you will be in a better position to calm down, think, get a description of the person(s), vehicle, plate number, etc. One might also have time to call the police. By keeping distance or a buffer it allows you more time to react if needed. Just my take.

Leave a comment if you disagree, agree or have other ideas.

A very good experiment, multiple videos

Whether you like him or hate him James Yeager does put together some pretty decent video reviews and instruction. There is some “language” so don’t watch  or de-tune your ears. I’ll do a short review here.

What I found pretty cool about the series in all is the first video , one of the middle videos and in particular the last video.

James lays out all his equipment that he is taking on his bug-out experiment trip. And he makes it pretty clear that this experiment is a get from point A to point B nothing else. He is not setting up any illusions that his group is bugging out to survive in the woods. A totally impossible, unrealistic and delusional idea. The experimental hike is set on a 10 mile loop that I am guessing is located in a national forest of some sort. The terrain looks pretty undulating overall and pretty tough.

What I found VERY interesting is all the things we pack in our bags that we think we need, James also found out that a lot of stuff he hauled with him wasn’t not only not needed but wouldn’t be used or never used. One particular example, flints and matches versus a lighter!

Another take-away, a sleep system and a plain old GI poncho or tarp. Water, he mentions at the end that he never really drank enough water.  And lastly? Are you in shape? I think James found out he really wasn’t in as great of shape as maybe he thought? I dunno but he talked about it a number of times through out the video’s.

In all? some kernels of lessons learned that can be taken away for yourself.

I sat down on the front room floor last night and dumped everything I had out of my BOB, reorganized, and repacked into a smaller back pack. I didn’t loose any equipment in my repack and am pretty pleased that what I did have was not “extra”. It still weighs 30 + lbs. without a sleep system or water. But my thought is a good portion of the clothes I have in the bag will be used immediately as I change into a more comfortable kit to walk in.  If I were to bail and walk home from work? 64 miles one way. 4 days walk minimum. But that would be in total grid down situation. Otherwise I call for backup.

Hope you can filter and learn something.