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Post Consequences of Syria Intervention
Created by John Eipper on 09/06/13 1:47 AM

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Consequences of Syria Intervention (Michael Sullivan, USA, 09/06/13 1:47 am)

I appreciate what Istvan Simon is saying (4 September), and in my heart I may agree with him, but we must consider the consequences of a major strike like Sen. McCain recommends. Even a minor punishment strike could have severe repercussions. On Wednesday the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a 60-day period with a possible extension to 90 days for a strike on Syria, but that length of time is enough for a full-blown war and not just a punishment strike!

We're liable to bring the entire Middle East into war, with Iran and Syria attacking Israel along with the Palestinians happily lobbing Katytusha rockets into Israel. No telling what the Saudis and Russian will do. Even Iraq and Jordan could get involved. How does Egypt react? We haven't heard from Turkey or Lebanon yet...

But what concerns me most is that many American service personnel could pay for it with their lives through the loss of aircraft, if we use aircraft to hit Syrian targets, and possibly ships, as the military is the first to feel the pains of combat enforcing America's anemic foreign policy.

The equipment Syria has to defend itself is the latest and most capable Russian IADS and probably manned by Russians, as they were in the missile sites in Vietnam. Just to refresh WAISer memories, the US Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps lost 3,283 fixed-wing aircraft, mostly to AAA and SAMs alone, but not all over North Vietnam. The F-4 Phantom leads the list, with 682 losses. Unfortunately, around 25% of all US losses were lost due to operational accidents vice direct combat losses (bad weather, inflight mechanical failures, landing and take-off accidents, mid-air collisions, hitting the ground or trees and running out of fuel). In other words, when the shooting starts from a formidable enemy with a first-rate Integrated Air Defense System (IADS), losses mount up quickly and accidents increase. We've been spoiled by conducting air strikes in both Iraq and Afghanistan for the last 10 years with impunity, as the enemy have no IADS, except for the first few weeks in Iraq in 2003, to defend against our attacking aircraft and the environment has been very benign with no airborne combat losses. We had one loss in 2003 that I mentioned in a previous WAIS posting.

The Russians have a Sunburn S 300 anti-ship missile, and if they have given it to the Syrians it could be a killer for US Navy's TLAM launching surface ships in the area, except for submarines. One of its attributes is that it goes seven times the speed of sound or 4,550 knots! Look it up on the Internet and you'll see it's deadly.

With all the possibilities of our plans going awry and nothing to gain except making good on President Obama's "red line" ultimatum to supposedly maintain our credibility, it's still an unacceptable reason to attack Assad's forces considering the consequences. In fact, if we attack, there is no assurance either party won't use gas again. We won't make any friends, as most allies will be furious with us and it will reinforce the hate the Muslim world has for us. It's not worth the tremendous risks we'll be taking not only for the US but for the Middle East and the rest of the world. The US should stay out of it.

I have not turned into a dove as JE indicated some of us may have with our stance against the punishment attack on Syria. I've been burning the midnight oil trying to figure out tactical and strategic solutions that are best for the US and its allies' interests, especially considering Israel who sits at ground zero and will definitely be forced into action! There are no easy answers!

JE comments: No one in WAISworld understands the tactical risks of a Syria strike better than Gen. Sullivan; I thank him for his insight. The S-300 is one terrifying piece of hardware:


Some Internet sites claim that Syria has them. Is there any way to protect a ship against this kind of speed?  One tactical takeaway from Michael's observations:  if you must strike, use submarines, although I presume their Tomahawk payload is rather limited.

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  • In Praise of Michael Sullivan (Robert Whealey, USA 09/06/13 2:20 PM)

    As a historian who became a dove during the Korean War age 20-22, I have admired Generals Omar Bradley, Matthew Ridgway and Colin Powell, as well as Gen Schwarzkopf.  General Michael Sullivan now deserves my admiration. I have now added his 6 September posting to my notes.

    JE comments:  Here, here!  WAIS doesn't normally post "attaboys," but this one from Robert Whealey, who is not usually a bird of an ideological feather with Michael Sullivan, is worthy of a wider audience.

    A question for the Floor:  what generals do you admire most, and why?  After a unforgettable three days with Michael and his wife Nicole at WAIS '11/Torquay, I'll have to put Gen. Sullivan on my very short list.  (Of course we also have Gens. Gard, Steele and Delong in the WAIS ranks--all cut from the finest cloth!)

    Want to meet Gen. Sullivan in person?  Join us at WAIS '13/Adrian!  It kicks off on 10 October--just a little over a month away.  Drop me a line if interested.

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