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
and UK was clearly intended to send a
political message. As the Pentagon
briefers emphasized, the France , US , and UK make up 3 of the 5 permanent
members of the UN Security Council. France
The fact that
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? Syria
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.
and France . The strike
also demonstrated the severe limitations of UK and the France to exert significant world wide
military influence. The lack of land
attack naval forces forced the UK and UK 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.
Military US – The number of missiles employed suggests that the
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
If the number of missiles used was indicative of an anticipated Russian defensive response, that would give us a good indication of how the
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. US
Tactically and operationally, there was no need for the
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. US
Military SAM – Once again, as throughout the history of surface-to-air defensive efforts, we see that SAM systems are only marginally effective.
’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. Syria
As a point of interest,
claims that Russia shot down 71 out of 103 missiles.
(1) Interestingly, Syria only claims to have shot down 13
missiles! (2) Syria