Saturday, April 14, 2018

Syrian Anti-Chemical Weapons Strike Analysis

Here’s an early and quick analysis of the Syrian strike.  I don’t have much to offer because not much is known.  However, a few things stand out about this latest anti-chemical weapons (CW) strike.

Political.  The participation of the UK and France was clearly intended to send a political message.  As the Pentagon briefers emphasized, the US, UK, and France make up 3 of the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council. 

The fact that Syria again used CW after the last use/strike cycle clearly demonstrates the uselessness of such political messages.  The last one didn’t deter Syria so why would we expect that this one will?

Since the last message didn’t accomplish anything, this strike should have been targeted at Assad, personally, to hit every location he is known to frequent with the intent to kill him.  You don’t provide second chances to maniacs who use CW against their own people.

Finally, the real message should be directed at Russia who provides the support for CW use and is the "enabler".  So much for Russia's assurances that Syria had destroyed all their CW capabilities and inventories.  Russia is complicit in this.  The strike should have been directed, at least in part, against Russia.  I don't care about escalation.  If promoting the use of CWs is the hill Russia wants to die on then we should accommodate them.  


Military – France and UK.  The strike also demonstrated the severe limitations of France and the UK to exert significant world wide military influence.  The lack of land attack naval forces forced the UK and France to resort to risky and difficult strike-fighter missile launches.  The risk of lost aircraft and killed or captured aircrew was significant.  Further, the strike required extensive tanking and electronic warfare escort, according to the Pentagon briefing.  Presumably, the use of aircraft also required search and rescue forces to be on standby.  That’s a lot of effort for what should have been a simple standoff cruise missile attack from naval forces. 

France and the UK need to seriously reevaluate their military capabilities as they relate to their geopolitical strategic goals.


Military US – The number of missiles employed suggests that the US was anticipating Russian defensive efforts.  As with the previous strike, this clearly demonstrates the enormous amount of firepower the US believes necessary to destroy even small facilities.  This suggests that our current level of munitions will be exhausted in a matter of days in a peer level war.  As a strategic imperative, we need to ensure that we have sufficient facilities to quickly replenish our inventories.

If the number of missiles used was indicative of an anticipated Russian defensive response, that would give us a good indication of how the US views the effectiveness of the Tomahawk missile at penetrating a peer level defense and it’s not good.  If unopposed, the targets could probably have been destroyed with around a dozen missiles.  This suggests that the US does not view the Tomahawk as being particularly survivable against active defenses.  Stealthier, higher performance missiles are clearly needed in the US inventory.

Tactically and operationally, there was no need for the US to use the B-1 bomber and JASSM along with the attendant risk to aircraft and aircrews.  Clearly, someone wanted to conduct a live fire test of the JASSM and/or justify the expense of its development.

Military SAM – Once again, as throughout the history of surface-to-air defensive efforts, we see that SAM systems are only marginally effective.  Syria’s defensive SAM efforts did nothing to change the historical success rate of 1%-25% - if the Pentagon is to be believed, no attacking missiles or aircraft were shot down.  Other, unconfirmed, reports suggest that at least some missiles were shot down.  Regardless, it doesn’t change the conclusion. 

As a point of interest, Russia claims that Syria shot down 71 out of 103 missiles. (1)  Interestingly, Syria only claims to have shot down 13 missiles! (2)



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76 comments:

  1. I've been thinking about Tomahawk survivability issue. Clearly USN should seek some new successor. But that is goal which is simply to far to have its impact on warfighting capabilites in near time.

    On the other hand, USN should explore possible EW version of Tomahawk missile. Lets say if some part of strike package (maybe 10%) would be EW tomahawks it could make whole package more survivable by cloacking them and countering the enemy SAM's targeting systems.

    EW tomahawks should also have some kind of self destruct warhead to destry missile after sucessful mission. And here comes the issues 1) space in tomahawk to instal EW equipment 2) space for power source

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    1. The US definitely needs a successor long range cruise missile.

      I seem to recall that an EW version of Tomahawk was considered. I don't know what, if anything came of it. I know some specialty Tomahawk warheads were developed such as the ones that dropped conductive filaments on electrical plants in Desert Storm - at least, that was the report.

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  2. Given that these were chemical weapons sites, they may have overdone it with the weapons to ensure destruction.

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  3. France fired several MDCN cruise missiles from one frigate. So your statement about France not having land-attack naval capabilities is false.

    It's not actually good news, though: cruise missiles are largely a fraud, being too expensive, inacurate and unreliable to be of any use in serious warfare- not to mention that strategic bombing and interdiction are self-defeating ideas.

    And have I mentioned that this strike was stupid on a strategic level ? It is.

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    1. "France fired several MDCN cruise missiles from one frigate. So your statement about France not having land-attack naval capabilities is false."

      You're right. I stand corrected. Thanks!

      Delete
    2. "cruise missiles are largely a fraud, being too expensive, inacurate and unreliable to be of any use in serious warfare"

      Cruise missiles, such as the Tomahawk, are incredibly accurate so what are you getting at?

      The expense is a relative thing. At $1M-$2M each they're not cheap but they're powerful so they represent value for the money.

      Reliability is excellent. Successful launch rates for the US Tomahawk are around 98% and overall target impact rates are around 97%.

      Delete
    3. "And have I mentioned that this strike was stupid on a strategic level ? It is."

      This is the kind of comment I discourage as it adds nothing to the discussion. Why is it a strategic mistake? There is a political element here so feel free to indulge but be factual and logical.

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    4. Nearly half of all the Tomahawks fired in the Gulf War in 1991 missed their targets. This was found out after the war by the GAO:
      https://www.gao.gov/archive/1997/ns97134.pdf

      Since then, it has much improved, in the sense that it is now landing in the wrong countries:
      https://medium.com/war-is-boring/the-tomahawk-missile-s-first-mission-was-over-iran-2ae37408600d
      http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,439517,00.html
      https://www.stripes.com/news/gis-attacked-by-civilians-in-turkey-1.3657#.WOyD_LjSMnh
      http://edition.cnn.com/2003/US/03/29/sprj.irq.tomahawks/
      http://web.archive.org/web/20030417154144/http://www.pilotonline.com/military/ml0329haw.html

      Also, the US Navy could have had 8-inch and 16-inch subcaliber rounds with a range in excess of 70,000 yards decades ago :
      http://www.navweaps.com/Weapons/WNUS_16-50_mk7.php
      http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a144417.pdf

      These rounds cost a few hundred bucks each, by the way.
      An 8-inch gun could be fitted to a Burke-class destroyer:
      http://www.g2mil.com/8inchguns.htm

      Also, in my opinion, this strike was unnecessary and dangerous, because:
      -We do not know if it is the Assad regime which used those chemical weapons- we were wrong the last time.
      -The last thing the West needs is a war with Russia.
      -We are essentially indirectly supporting islamist groups by bombing Syria.
      -Fixing Syria is not up to the West, but to the powers in the region (Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, etc...)
      Of course, this is all my opinion. Feel free to disagree, and if you don't want this kind of debate on your blog, let me know and I won't be bothering you with it again ;)

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    5. I think that's naive - the point wasn't to fix Syria, it was to dissuade the use of chemical weapons globally. This strike launched twice the missiles as last time. The Russians weren't targeted and didn't engage the strike either. There's no attempt to move Syria out of Russian influence so why would Russia care that much? They don't want Syria using chemical weapons either - they're not needed for Assad to win. Assad is mostly restricted by logistics - you'll note the Russians aren't fixing this problem for him.

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    6. "Nearly half of all the Tomahawks fired in the Gulf War in 1991 missed their targets. This was found out after the war by the GAO:"

      Two thoughts:

      1. The GAO report does not list any success rate that I could see. It merely states that the success rate was less than the 85% originally claimed.

      2. The Desert Storm success rate is irrelevant. It's the current accuracy that's relevant and that is, by all accounts, quite high.

      If you have an alternate source for your stated "half", please list it. Otherwise, do not make claims.

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    7. If you want to engage in America-bashing, this is not the site to do it on. I will not allow it. If you have something relevant to offer please do so but keep it objective and factual.

      I would normally delete your comment for that reason but you do have some points that are potentially interesting and relevant so I'm going to let it stand.

      "-We do not know if it is the Assad regime which used those chemical weapons- we were wrong the last time."

      Cite your proof or source.

      "-The last thing the West needs is a war with Russia."

      The last thing anyone needs is a war but I would suggest that a war would be far worse for Russia given their already precarious economy and marginal overall military capability - notwithstanding a few notable exceptions such as electronic warfare, artillery, and some interesting armor designs.

      "-We are essentially indirectly supporting islamist groups by bombing Syria."

      This is a completely valid point. The list of factions is seemingly endless and values and allegiances are questionable, at best. It is clear to me that there are undesirable "sides" in the conflict but it is far less clear that there are any desirable sides. This point, alone, could fill a book!

      By the way, you should be aware that there is a significant body of opinion in America that there is nothing worth fighting for in Syria although there are some aspects worth fighting against.

      "-Fixing Syria is not up to the West, but to the powers in the region (Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, etc...)"

      No, since the activities in and around Syria affect the West (terrorism being the obvious effect), the West has every right to intervene.

      Further, the "powers" in the region have shown neither the willingness nor the capability to solve the problem and some of them are as bad or worse than Syria (Iran, for example).

      I would love to see you expand on this point. Which country(ies) do you see as being able to solve the problem? Why haven't they already? What kind of a solution do you see as feasible?

      This is not a political blog so I don't generally engage in political discussions. However, this post contains a political element so politics are fair game. I caution you, however, that all comments must be objective, factual, and logical.


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    8. "They don't want Syria using chemical weapons either "

      What evidence do you have for that statement? Russia's actions (or inaction) as regards Syria's chemical weapons, strongly suggest that Russia either doesn't care about chem weapon use or actively encourages it.

      Give me some proof to back up your statement.

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    9. It is widely believed that the Salisbury attack was purely to make Putin look tough before the elections. The Russians use the West as a bogeyman for their own internal politics. Putin's responses by doing the minimum he could (ie matching the number of expulsions) show he did not want the issue to escalate once its initial purpose was achieved.
      Russia has not got involved militarily in this latest strike beyond words and some hacking - the Russian forces have not engaged against the West so far. Assad has not deployed any sophisticated chemical agents so far that would evidence Russia is supplying him with chemical expertise beyond a basic level. Russia has what it wants already and doesn't need to expend international political capital unnecessarily. What does Russia have to gain from encouraging chemical weapons attacks by the Syrians?

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    10. I had no intention of engaging in America-bashing, believe me. If you misinterpreted my comment, I am sorry. Also, I am as critical of France's foreign policy as that of the US.

      Here's my source on the april 2017 strike in Syria:
      https://www.welt.de/politik/ausland/article165905578/Trump-s-Red-Line.html
      This time, however, it appears (for now) that it is indeed the Assad regime which used chemical weapons.

      The fact that Russia is so weak (its economy is the size of Italy's, IIRC) only makes the situation more dangerous, as its government might consider agression as the only way out if it feels threatened.

      Western countries are indeed affected, not only by terrorism but also by the flow of refugees coming from Syria, thus they indeed have the right to intervene. The question is, the Assad regime having not engaged in hostile activities against the West, do we have the right to attack it ?

      Over that matter, what we are seeing right now, in my opinion, is a war between Shia and Sunni.
      The fighting in Syria is about wether there is going to be a Russia-supported Shia axis consisting of Iran, Iraq and Syria. Sunni powers like Saudi Arabia and Turkey support sunni terror groups like ISIS in order to prevent such an axis from forming.
      Add the Kurds into the equation and you get a geopolitical clusterfuck the West should, in my opinion, stay clear off.

      My original source on the Tomahawk was Military-Today:
      http://www.military-today.com/missiles/tomahawk.htm
      However, this article having been written by the highly-controversial military reformer known as Blacktail, whether you choose to believe him (I do) is up to you.

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    11. Re. your point that Russian economy only the size of Italy, just amazed that an economy only one third of US can support it's military tech and capability, understand it comes at a cost to the general Russian economy, but still find it impressive they manage to produce some very effective weapon system at what must be a fraction of cost in West.

      Delete
    12. "What does Russia have to gain from encouraging chemical weapons attacks by the Syrians?"

      That's a very good question. Other than opposing the West for the sake of opposing, there is no logical rationale for supporting chem weapon (CW) use. CW's, at least as supposedly used in Syria, have no military value. They have not produced large casualty numbers. They appear to be just a weapon of terror to frighten the populace.

      Despite this, the best that can be said about Russia is that they are willfully condoning Syria's use of CW, supporting them publicly through denials of use, and turning a blind eye to their use. The worst that can be said is that Russia is actively encouraging CW use and publicly supporting it.

      As you say, Russia is gaining what it wants without Syria's use of CW and I would think, logically, that Russia would actively discourage CW use but that is clearly not the case.

      Delete
    13. "Here's my source on the april 2017 strike in Syria:"

      I completely read the article you linked. It was an example of the worst kind of reporting. It did not offer a single verifiable source. The author did not directly or indirectly collect any samples from the area nor perform any chemical tests to validate his theory. He did not have a single source speak on the record. He did not present a single memo or report to support his theory. He presented zero evidence and data to support his theory. I give such reports, regardless of subject, zero credence.

      The author concocted a scenario and story that is plausible but which is just a theory. The opposing scenario, that the attack was chemical weapons, is equally plausible and comes with the supporting source of the US government.

      In short, your link has zero credibility.

      All that said, I have little confidence in the US government when it comes to such matters. They are often right but have, not all that infrequently, been wrong. So, regarding the first CW attack, the public evidence is sketchy and I accept the US govt's statements but with a very large dose of skepticism. In other words, I accept the govt version until something more definitive comes along and that clearly wasn't your link! The scenario presented in your link could be true but nothing in the link provided even a shred of support for it.

      I'm disappointed that you would accept such a report without any evidence whatsoever.

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    14. "The question is, the Assad regime having not engaged in hostile activities against the West, do we have the right to attack it ?"

      That is a key question and I wish you would have attempted to answer it. In fact, why not take a second pass and do so?

      My answer is that the West has the right to intervene when the actions of Syria (or any country, for that matter) negatively impact us. That negative impact might be refugees, support of terrorism, significant disruption of international trade/oil/shipping, or providing refuge for terrorists among many other possible reasons. Of course, there is always the issue of humanitarian intervention. Most good people consider it their inherent duty as humans to intervene when wholesale slaughter of civilians is occurring.

      What's your answer, either for or against the right to intervene?

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    15. "war between Shia and Sunni."

      Clearly, the middle east is a cauldron of warring factions and peace is not a viable option, at least not in the friendly, loving, cooperative sense that we know it. The best that can be hoped for is a precarious balance of power that minimally satisfies the various factions to the point that they are no longer engaged in active combat. I rate this as impossible.

      Further, the middle east has no cultural history or inclination towards Western style democracy despite our repeated attempts to impose it. Thus, the best that can be hoped for is probably a benevolent dictatorship that enforces "peace".

      Until the West accepts those conditions and the limits of our ability to influence events in the direction we would like, we will continue to bumble along causing as many problems as solutions. The best I can say for the West is that their intentions are good, as opposed to, say, Russia.

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    16. "My original source on the Tomahawk"

      You are working off outdated data about the missile. It's initial versions and performance was not all that was claimed but what weapon is? Despite that, it was still a leap ahead of the previous unguided, short range rockets and bombs!

      Today's Tomahawk, which is the one you should be considering since it's the one in use, uses GPS guidance which has vastly improved its accuracy. The warheads are several hundred to a thousand pounds of explosive depending on version.

      In short, your assessment of Tomahawk is badly out of date and you should update yourself.

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    17. "amazed that an economy only one third of US can support it's military tech "

      Ahh ... they aren't supporting nearly as much as they would have you believe. Much of their air and naval forces are antiquated and barely or non-operational. We, in the US, think that our military has become hollow but that's nothing compared to the hollowness of the Russian military.

      There are some exceptions. By all accounts, their electronic warfare is far more advanced than the US and they have produced some very interesting heavy armor designs.

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    18. Whether you choose to believe that article or not is your pick. There is something to be said, however, about this article being written by the same person who exposed My Lai, among other things.

      And in my opinion, the right to intervene depends on the situation at hand. In this case, are we 100% sure those chemical weapons were used by the Assad regime? It wouldn't make sense for him to provoke the West into retaliating, especially as he is currently winning the war. And if we are not certain, then is intervening worth the risk of a war with Russia? In my opinion, it isn't.

      Delete
    19. "Whether you choose to believe that article or not is your pick."

      I neither believe nor disbelieve the article. I simply give it zero credence since it presents absolutely no evidence or sources.

      Delete
  4. Britain also has Tomahawks and could have used them from one of the subs but why would they bother? Storm Shadow was quite good enough it could be launched outside the SAM envelope, it could be fired from assets already on site and it also needed to be tested in action.

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    1. Do you have any evidence that Britain had a cruise missile armed sub within range of Syria? That was kind of my point - that the UK's military has shrunk so far that it can no longer count on effective presence where and when needed. As I stated, using small, strike aircraft was an unnecessary risk that was caused by the lack of viable alternatives.

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    2. There was plenty of time for Britain to have moved a submarine in place for this. Obviously I can't provide evidence that one was (is?) there because that information is classified. I don't see much risk in firing a missile from outside the Syrian's envelope. Sure I agree that the Brits should have a much bigger range of options but to make a token contribution in support of the US did not need any more than was deployed.

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    3. "to make a token contribution in support of the US did not need any more than was deployed."

      I have no details on how the UK portion was carried out so this is pure speculation ...

      An aircraft strike, especially if there was any reason to believe it would be opposed - and there certainly was, in this case - would require tanking and electronic warfare support as well as combat search and rescue units standing by. Did the UK have these supporting units? I don't know but I highly doubt it. I don't think they even have tankers, EW, or CSAR assets - maybe I'm wrong? I strongly suspect that those elements were supplied by the US. In other words, the UK was likely incapable of executing their portion without assistance and, if true, is a scathing reflection on their military capability.

      Do you have any information on this?

      Delete
    4. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5617799/Royal-Navy-submarine-hunted-Russia-cat-mouse-pursuit.html

      Well, that may be an answer why British used Tornados instead of Tomahawks

      Delete
    5. The article is ambiguous about whether the Russians were just looking for the sub or whether they were actually able to find and track it. If the latter, that's a disappointing reflection of the British sub.

      The US had subs in the area with no indication that they were tracked.

      I suspect this is just the usual effort to look for subs and the article is making more out of a fruitless effort than there is. Of course, if that's true then it leaves the question, why didn't the British use the sub?

      Delete
  5. "Tactically and operationally, there was no need for the US to use the B-1 bomber and JASSM along with the attendant risk to aircraft and aircrews. Clearly, someone wanted to conduct a live fire test of the JASSM and/or justify the expense of its development."

    There was no risk to aircraft or crew. JASSM-ER can be launched from 500+nm away.

    It was a glorified training mission with live ordinance.

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    1. There is always risk to aircraft and crew. As you know, there are two versions of JASSM and both are in use and continue to be delivered. They differ greatly in range - 200 miles versus 600 miles. Do you know which version was used and what the actual launch distance was?

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    2. From what I've heard so from the media, around 150 miles from syrian airspace was the launch point for the aircraft. Interestingly, it appears the s300 and s400 weren't fired, only older systems were used to try intercept.

      Delete
    3. I don’t know. But the B-1 has been the only aircraft certified to carry the ER until earlier this year. Coincidence?

      However, it’s immaterial. 200nm is just as safe. The Syrians had no way to respond, and the handful of Russian Su-30s in Syria had no AEW or means of detecting the bombers at that range, if they had even sortied in time. And they would’ve had to get through the F-15s with AWACS support.

      It was a milk run.

      Delete
    4. "200nm is just as safe."

      Weapons are never launched at their absolute max range. Do you have any information on the actual launch distance?

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    5. i don’t have any information. Andrew s said “150 miles from Syrian airspace”. I’m willing to accept that. That’s like launching from New York to hit targets in DC.

      Still a milk run. I doubt the Russians or Syrians ever detected the launch aircraft.

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    6. ComNavOps,

      In the Pentagon's press conference yesterday morning the question was asked by a reporter if the JASSM or JASSM-ER was used and it was stated the JASSM-ER was the variant used.

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    7. "stated the JASSM-ER was the variant used."

      Thanks for that!

      I wonder what reporter had enough knowledge to ask that question? That's some exceedingly rare competency from a reporter!

      Now, did anyone ask about launch distance?

      Delete
    8. You might have missed my first post, but on cnn Saturday morning they were reporting 150 miles for the aircraft.

      Delete
    9. Nope, didn't miss it but CNN is not always the most reliable source and I'm always looking for additional sources to verify any information.

      Delete
  6. Russia is well entrenched in Syria and probably protected Assad from the attack. At the same time, any direct attack on Assad would likely kill some civilians and Russians resulting in condemnation from around the world.

    An attack on Assad's chemical weapons infrastructure was the better move.

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  7. Ok, after last days cruise missile Live fire exercise, has anybody wondered why loyalist regime forces always use chemical weapons after they're completely winning conventional, huh ?!
    Assad knows he is the only player who will loose most if he uses them.

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    1. That is the key question. The CWs supposedly used have no great military impact and a hugely negative political impact. I do not see the rationale behind them.

      Delete
    2. "Ok, after last days cruise missile Live fire exercise, has anybody wondered why loyalist regime forces always use chemical weapons after they're completely winning conventional, huh ?! "

      Possible that there was a strong point that couldnt be taken without heavy losses.
      Possible a local commander used his own initiative.
      Possible that someone in specifically testing Trumps resolve.

      "That is the key question. The CWs supposedly used have no great military impact and a hugely negative political impact. I do not see the rationale behind them."

      Chemical Weapons are of dubious value against a prepared military force, although they are highly effective at terrain denial.

      However if you can convince 200 militia fighters to pile in to a building and drop a barrel of chlorine on them, its highly useful.

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    3. As you said earlier CW used to terrorize the civilian population, it has succeeded as Assad at long last taken control of Ghouta, the last rebel stronghold on outskirts of Damascus.

      Assad am sure thinks well worth the price of some empty building blown up. The negative political impact of using CW is a western perspective, not applicable to his mindset.

      The only threat he would take seriously was if he was personally targeted, Trump unlikely to do so as possibility of extremist Daesh taking control in Syria

      Delete
    4. "Assad am sure thinks well worth the price of some empty building blown up. The negative political impact of using CW is a western perspective, not applicable to his mindset."

      Outstanding observation.

      "The only threat he would take seriously was if he was personally targeted, Trump unlikely to do so as possibility of extremist Daesh taking control in Syria"

      There are no good outcomes in the Middle East, only slightly less bad ones.

      Delete
    5. True but Assad can see the trend here - continue to use Chemical weapons and each time the response will be greater. Sooner or later, the response will ramp up to a point that makes a real impact on him. The other alternative is that if he becomes too much trouble for Russia, he'll 'have a heart attack' and be replaced by another puppet and both sides will have a face-saving way out.

      Delete
    6. Oh, C'mon this thing has False Flag totally written all over it.

      The Loyalist capture one of the last strongholds of anti regime forces successfully with conventional weapons

      The Donald announces a pull out of Syria

      Assad/Russia/Iran have almost won on all fronts

      And all of the sudden BOOM chemical gas usage . .

      Think people think ;)

      Delete
    7. Why would that make a difference? The attack has no significant impact on the conflict at all.

      Delete
    8. "this thing has False Flag totally written all over it."

      It's certainly possible. On the other hand, Syria had chemical weapons, is believed to have used them multiple times in the past, and has an insane maniac for a leader so it's equally believable that Syria did, in fact, execute a chemical attack.

      Delete
    9. Equally believable? You don't feel confident enough to go 60/40 or 90/10 on that?

      Delete
  8. do you believe seventy-six

    (it's 76; 57 TLAMs and 19 JASSMs: https://www.defense.gov/News/Transcripts/Transcript-View/Article/1493749/department-of-defense-press-briefing-by-pentagon-chief-spokesperson-dana-w-whit/source/GovDelivery/)

    missiles were used to flatten about three acres: https://twitter.com/imagesatint/status/985260333844623360

    ?

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    1. If they stored chemical weapons, then yes. The last thing we’d want to do is just crack open chemical storage tanks and release their contents. So the overkill was meant to destroy the chemicals themselves.

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    2. Mission Accomplished?

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    3. In addition to chemical destruction, the apparent overkill may have been in anticipation of active Russian defense which would, presumably, have shot down many missiles. Thus, the overkill was intended to saturate the defenses and ensure that enough missiles got through. After all, Russia stated that they would actively engage the US if missiles were launched. This is pure speculation on my part and is just a possible explanation. I'm more inclined to believe the overkill was to ensure chemical incineration.

      Delete
    4. so is this:
      https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Da1SnfeWAAEkEcH.jpg
      what you believe "57 TLAMs and 19 JASSMs" (quoting the Pentagon) did?

      Delete
    5. either 60k pounds or so of warheads didn't do much, or there weren't "57 TLAMs and 19 JASSMs" which hit

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    6. I'm not an explosive effects expert nor a bomb damage assessment expert so I have no idea what the photos prove or disprove. It seems perfectly reasonable to me that once the buildings have been completely destroyed, subsequent hits would just churn the rubble and the appearance wouldn't change no matter how many more hits occur.

      What possible reason would the military have to lie about the number of missiles used?

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    7. if there weren't "57 TLAMs and 19 JASSMs" which hit

      Delete
    8. "if there weren't "57 TLAMs and 19 JASSMs" which hit"

      I'm deleting all further comments of this nature unless you have a point to make - if so, make it. You're not furthering the discussion.

      Delete
    9. Destruction level doesn't look like 76 missiles hit, whole place would've been flattened. It is more consistent with Russian MOD assessment (25 missiles got through).
      One more thing - target was research facility, not CW storage or production plant. Those were second and third target. 76 missiles for research facility is too much overkill, even if heavy resistance was expected.
      22 missiles for CW storage sounded about right, some with HE and some with thermobaric warheads to burn out whatever CW were left in storage.
      Burying the bunker with few Scalp missiles is not as effective but if it contained some chemical weapons trying to dig them out could be dangerous to personnel trying to do it. This could be enough to prevent such attempt.

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    10. For reasons that completely elude me, you seem obsessed with the number of missiles used. I think this is the end of this pointless and unproductive topic.

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  9. In a way vaguely surprised after Putin's threats Russia did not use this as a live fire exercise to test their capability to take out sub-sonic cruise missiles. Russia has been using Syria as a live fire test range for their weapon systems.

    May be they did not have the right equipment in country, e.g. AEW aircraft, realistically even Putin realized the possible consequences were just too high.

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    1. They had A-50U AWACS in country

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    2. You're surprised that something Russia said did not come true??? Haven't they pretty much established a reputation for outrageous statements?

      I'm surprised by your surprise!

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  10. Here's a link to an analysis of the Syrian chemical attack which concludes it was ... fake! Offered merely as food for thought.

    http://www.newnationalist.net/2018/04/12/chemical-attack-at-douma-was-a-poorly-done-fake/

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  11. As far as I know, this hasn't been said and could have major long term implications. Everybody is assuming Russians would shoot down US cruise missiles, even USA military if you assume we fired over 100 CM to destroy 3 targets.....anybody wonder or worry that Russia got inside our decision making? What if Russia NEVER intended to shoot down our CMs?!? We overshoot by a serious multiple!!!! Some would argue USA has plenty of missiles and bombs BUT lets say this was some of country/war and not just 3 targets, could we have afforded to overshoot this badly?!? I find it disturbing that a couple Russian officials ma

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    1. ....managed to force the USA to overshoot or overfire that many missiles.

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    2. Well, that's an interesting thought. I'll give you that. However, two things:

      1. That assumes that the missiles WERE overkill. One of the theories is that that many were used to incinerate any released chemicals.

      2. I don't think any serious observer thought the Russians would attack us in any way. I didn't! The Russians are certainly prone to bluster but the cold reality is that simply don't have the military force to take on the US - not even close and certainly not in that region.

      So, I really don't think Russian threats influenced our weapon numbers.

      Now that the Russians have threatened to attack us and didn't, future bluffs will be recognized as such and any influence they might have had on our weapon numbers won't happen again because no one will believe them again.

      That's the problem with bluffing. Once it's clear that you won't follow through, you lose all future credibility. The US suffered from this throughout the Obama administration where we issued threats and warnings but never followed through. China and Russia recognized that and ignored us. Trump may or may not be changing that - a bit too early to tell, yet.

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    3. Remember they were attacking bunkers, TLAMs have unitary warheads. 2-3 TLAM have been targeted per bunker, 1st to blow a hole in the bunker, follow ons to destroy the interior of the bunker. Storm Shadows have tandem warheads for bunker busting.

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    4. is this what's happened:
      https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-FybtMd68Cfk/WtMWwMNB7TI/AAAAAAAAaSc/vfGo7Gm4vcwi-vXCcb4eBhXsBTC9EmLaQCLcBGAs/s400/siria%2Bataque%2BEEUU%2Bbrit%25C3%25A1nico%2Bfranc%25C3%25A9s%2B2018-4-14%2Bzonas%2Bblancos%2B1b.jpg

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    5. the Russians may have used they're ground based Electronic Warfare capabilities.

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  12. Fox News reported that Trump was offered a plan to take out Russia's air defenses in Syria. An attack that would have been much larger and with the potential to start an all out war between the US and Russia. No happy ending in that scenario.

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    1. Who offered that plan, Bolton ??

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    2. I would hope that the President was offered many plans covering a wide range of options. That's what advisers are supposed to do.

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  13. http://tass.ru/armiya-i-opk/5131781

    That just got out, ( use google translate )

    So basically the russians claim all the types of SAM's in SAA inventory fired over 100 missiles, and got a high success rate ;?

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