Monday, November 14, 2016

The law of unintended consequences . . . in Syria

The more I see of the Obama administration's efforts to undermine and destabilize what it regarded as 'backward' or 'reactionary' or 'hostile' Middle Eastern regimes, the more I realize how deadly dangerous such meddling can be to the United States and its allies.  If we sow the wind, others may join in (and have), with the result that we reap the whirlwind good and hard.

A classic example is Hezbollah.  It was always dangerous to Israel, but in a limited way, confined to southern Lebanon, from where it could operate as a fairly sophisticated guerrilla force, but not much more than that.  However, when the USA decided to destabilize the Assad government in Syria, that changed.  Assad was one of Hezbollah's biggest supporters, and both he and Hezbollah were clients of Iran, which was trying to extend its influence in the Middle East.  The natural result was that Assad appealed to Hezbollah for military assistance.  Furthermore, Iran, which supplied weapons, training and money to Hezbollah, basically told it that if it didn't play ball in Syria, its supplies would be cut off.  Net result - Hezbollah contributed thousands of fighters to help Assad stay in power.  It's possible they may have sent sufficient to form as many as two or three brigades.  That's over five figures' worth of soldiers, if anyone's keeping score.

Inevitably, that's resulted in Hezbollah's fighters gaining enormous experience in semi-conventional military operations and tactics.  This makes Israel very nervous, because if it launches a military onslaught to take out the threat from Hezbollah, it'll now have to face hardened, seasoned veterans of vicious fighting, who won't be intimidated and who are more than capable of fighting back.  Furthermore, Hezbollah now has armored units of its own, to pit against Israel's tanks and armored personnel carriers.

There were a lot of unconfirmed rumors about Assad supplying heavy material to Hezbollah, even during the 2013 battle for Al Qusayr the Institute for the Study of War said that Hezbollah probably operated T-54 or T-55 tanks however we never see before such evidence of heavy material in hands of Hezbollah this represnts a quality leap on their improvement as a military force able to fight in hybrid and now more conventional conflicts.

Resume of vehicles recognized

Tanks: T-54A, T-62 Obr. 1972, T-72M1, T-72AV also very likely T-55s

IFV: BMP-1s some of them with cage armor on the turret and some with the rail to fire 9M14P ATGM

Close range AA (normally they act as direct fire support vehicles): ZSU-57-2, M-113A1 with ZPU-2, GM chassis series with KS-1 and KS-19, trucks with KS-1 and KS-19

Direct fire support vehicles: technycals

Electronic Warfare Vehicles: probably R-330Ps or externally similar

Self-propelled guns: 2S1 Gvozdika

Supplier: mostly came from SAA, T-72M1s and T-72AVs could also be from Russia but this is unlikely, M-113A1s came from Lebanon but it is not sure if they were captured years ago by Hezbollah or they have been sent by Lebanese Army (LAF).

There's more at the link.  A tip o' the hat to SNAFU for providing it.

This has to worry Israel very much - and the USA too, because Hezbollah is now capable of far more dangerous and damaging military operations.  If anyone thinks the terrorist group is going to meekly hand back all those armored vehicles and latest-technology weapons when the conflict in Syria is over, they'd better start thinking again . . . very quickly.

Sadly, that's one of the challenges President Trump will have to deal with when he takes office in January.  It won't be easy.



Old NFO said...

Just what we need, MORE qualified insurgents... sigh

Tim Newman said...

I'm not so sure. Hezbollah are an effective guerilla outfit fighting in built up areas using asymmetric warfare. If they go up against the Israelis in a conventional fashion using armour, they'll get slaughtered.

Anonymous said...

"That's resulted in Hezbollah's fighters gaining enormous experience"

Should read" that's resulted in THE SURVIVING Hezbollah's fighters gaining enormous experience." Can Hezbollah replace their losses in a timely fashion?

+1 to Tim. Armor warfare is about group movement, communication and joint fire with logistics in depth. I doubt IDF will worry to much about their edge in men and equipment.