The current wars at the same time in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq and Yemen provide an opportunity to assess current trends in the development of military art in the twenty-first century.
All four of these wars are civil wars with foreign participation (veiled or open). In all wars, one of the belligerents is a non-state actor, which is characteristic of a rebellion. However, in none of the wars, non-state actors do not fight as partisans, they all lead a classic war with the constant control of a certain territory and the use of heavy ground equipment. It is still difficult to say to what extent this is a steady tendency to turn turquoise into a classic war, but the fact cannot be noted.
DISCOVERY OF FORCES IN SYRIA
The Syrian war is unique because there are not two, but many warring parties. Nevertheless, the Syrian army and its allies have one real enemy - radical Sunni Islamists, divided into many groups (the Islamic State banned in the Russian Federation - the IG and the Dzhebkhat al-Nusra, the Islamic Front, the Muslim Brotherhood etc.), “moderate secular opposition” exists only in the imagination of Western propaganda. The only real "third force" of the Syrian war are the Kurds.
During the 5,5 years of the war, Syrian government troops suffered huge losses in technology - at least 800 tanks, not less than 700 infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers, several hundred different artillery systems, up to 100 aircraft and up to 50 helicopters (in all cases, this refers to equipment either destroyed without the possibility of recovery or captured by the enemy). Nevertheless, up to 2,2 thousand tanks, up to 1,6 thousand infantry fighting vehicles, up to 1 thousand armored personnel carriers, up to 2 thousand artillery systems, 2-3 thousand ground defense systems, up to 400 aircraft, up to 150 remain in their arsenal helicopters. Almost all of this equipment is Soviet-made, including in the 60s, a significant part of it has already lost its combat effectiveness and is listed in the Armed Forces purely formally. Deliveries of modern equipment from Russia (tanks T-90, BTR-80 and -82, MLRS "Hurricane", "Smerch" and TOS-1) are extremely small in quantity and cannot fundamentally change the situation.
In general, the technological level of the Armed Forces of Syria is very low. The combat and moral-psychological training of army personnel (completed by conscription) and allied militia formations of various confessional and political orientations (they are, of course, purely voluntary) are very different, and people are very morally and physically exhausted. Extremely limited human reserves.
Nevertheless, the pro-government forces showed very high stability, otherwise the war would have been lost long ago. The Syrian Air Force played an extremely large role in the war, providing, despite high losses, the constant support of ground forces and the supply of isolated garrisons. The Syrian pilots continue to carry out this work with the same intensity after the deployment in the country of Russian aviation the group that took the air campaign to a whole new level.
The motley opponents of government forces are equipped with the same outdated Soviet equipment. Most of it is trophies captured from the Syrian Armed Forces, although perhaps part of it was purchased with Saudi and Qatari money in Eastern Europe and transferred to the opposition in Turkey. Of course, all the numerous opposition groups form on a voluntary basis, while the share of foreigners in them is growing higher (local resources are being depleted no less quickly than among the supporters of Assad). Martial and moral-psychological preparation is also very different, while, of course, morale is highly dependent on success or failure on the front. In particular, the intervention in the war of Russia dealt a very strong blow to all the opposition groups not only in the military, but also in the psychological sense.
DIFFICULT REALITIES OF IRAQ
The Iraqi army has been fighting for about three years against one opponent of those with whom the Syrian armed forces are fighting, the “Islamic state.” In parallel with the Iraqi Armed Forces, but not with them, Shiite formations and again the Kurds are fighting against the same enemy.
Since the beginning of 2014, the Iraqi Armed Forces and their allies have lost more than 70 tanks, more than 400 infantry fighting vehicles, armored personnel carriers and armored vehicles, at least 50 artillery systems, at least 7 helicopters. At the same time, about 350 tanks remain in service, more than 400 BMP, more than 4 thousand armored personnel carriers and armored vehicles, more than 1,1 thousand artillery systems, approximately 40 combat aircraft and about 200 helicopters. Technique is a kind of synthesis of a relatively new and very old American with the old and very old Soviet. For several years, Iraqis have been actively restoring that technique from the time of Saddam Hussein, which is still to be restored. Therefore, the Abrams and T-72, who shot each other in 1991 and 2003, now go into battle in the same line.
The Iraqi Armed Forces, unlike the Syrians, are equipped according to the American model, that is, for hire, because of which their combat stability is naturally much lower than that of the Syrians. The Syrian army suffered many defeats, but it never had such a collapse as the Iraqi army did in the first half of 2014. You can also compare the storms of Aleppo and Mosul, the comparison is also not at all in favor of the Iraqis. Pure volunteer Shiite and Kurdish units fight much better than the regular army. I would like to emphasize the fundamental difference between hired and voluntary principles of recruitment. The hired principle is when they go to serve for money, and the volunteer one when they go to fight for an idea.
Equally volunteer "caliphate" (IG) fighting trophy techniques of the armed forces of Iraq. Both in Syria and in Iraq, the “caliphate” uses suicide bombers very widely. In this case, we are talking about tactical tactics, when combat operations begin with the detonation of cars filled with explosives, and sometimes even with BMPs and armored personnel carriers. That is, suicide bombers become a kind of substitute for artillery preparation.
The Iraqi armed forces are intensively using aviation, but it is too small to seriously affect the course of the hostilities. Much more combat aircraft have a coalition headed by the United States, but it is very difficult to understand what its real goals and achievements are.
In addition, on the side of the armed forces of Syria and Iraq, limited contingents of the IRGC of Iran are fighting. Their fighting capacity is not much higher than that of the Syrian and Iraqi military themselves, therefore it is impossible to deny the importance of Iranian assistance in the fight against the IS.
ON THE SPACES OF THE ARABIAN PENINSULA
The participants of the civil war in Yemen are, on the one hand, the Hussite rebels (local Shiites) and supporters of the former president Saleh, on the other hand, supporters of the legitimate current president Hadi, and the territories controlled by these parties very much resemble the former North and South Yemen, respectively. The “third force” here can be considered the IS and the “Al-Qaeda”, fighting against both sides (but the main opponents of the Sunni radicals are the Housits). Since March, 2015, on the side of Hadi, has been fighting a coalition of Arabian monarchies, led by Saudi Arabia.
Sun Yemen equipped mainly Soviet equipment. In general, even older than Syria and Iraq. Formally, the army is recruited, in fact, its numerous brigades, even before the beginning of the civil war, were military formations of just as many local tribes. Equally formally, they constituted a single armed forces, which are now divided between the warring parties. Only from the beginning of the monarchy's intervention, the Yemeni army lost (on both sides in total) to 90 tanks, to 40 BMP and BTR, 11 aircraft and 4 helicopters (all aircraft and helicopters destroyed on the ground). What remains now of the Sun of Yemen and, most importantly, in what proportion these balances are divided between the parties, is extremely difficult to understand.
The Arabian coalition, even without the supporters of Hadi, knowingly had and has tremendous quantitative and qualitative superiority over the Hussites and Saleh supporters. Monarchies have never regretted money for the latest technology, primarily American. Based on the formal correlation of forces, the war should have ended in the complete defeat of the Hussites in the month of 2 – 3. In reality, the war has been going on for almost two years, during which time the coalition has only slightly reduced the territory controlled by the Hussites and Salekhovs. The most effective of the monarchist army was the UAE army. But she suffered significant losses - over 50 BBM fighter, Mirage-2000 fighter, high-speed catamaran HSV-2. However, due to political disagreements with Riyadh, the UAE for several months reduced the intensity of their participation in the war.
During the intervention, the Saudi army lost at least 20 tanks, at least 150 BMP, BMTV, armored personnel carriers and armored vehicles, X-NUMX F-1S fighter-bomber, to 15 helicopters (including Apache's 6), and also to combat 3 helicopters (including Apache 1,1), as well as combat APLA, and also combat aircraft (APL), and also combat aircraft (PLA), and the BATLA helicopters, APLs, as well as combat aircraft, PLA, helicopters (APCs), and also combat aircraft, PLA, XLUMX helicopters (including Apache’s 600), and also combat aircraft, PLA, XLUMX helicopters (including Apache’s 5,5 fighter-bomber), as well as combat helicopters. ". However, about 1,5 thousand tanks, about 300 BMP, more than 250 thousand BTR, BMTV and armored vehicles, up to XNUMX thousand artillery systems, XNUMX combat aircraft, up to XNUMX helicopters remain in its arsenal. New multi-billion dollar orders in the USA have been made for the latest technology, although the Saudi budget is beginning to seriously feel the impact of the war, coupled with the fall of oil prices provoked by Riyadh itself.
The main problem of monarchist armies is the same hired principle of recruitment. Their servicemen came to serve for money, so, despite the large amount of modern technology, they were so successfully beaten by the poor Hussites with the ancient Soviet technology, because they are fighting for the idea.
Over the 2,5 of the Donbass War, the Ukrainian Armed Forces lost more than 220 tanks, more than 500 BMP and BMD, more than 200 BTR and no less than 100 BTR-D and MTLB, more than 200 artillery systems, more than 10 ground defense equipment, 12 airplanes and helicopters. At the same time, about 1,9 thousand tanks, about 3 thousand BMP, BMD and BTR, up to 2,5 thousand artillery systems, more than 400 combat aircraft, up to 200 helicopters remain in service. However, as in the armed forces of Syria, a significant part of this technology is listed only on paper, since it has fully developed its resource. Practically all the equipment of the Ukrainian army is of Soviet production, the supply of new equipment is purely symbolic in quantity, and they are distinguished by very low quality.
Having canceled the call at the end of 2013, Ukraine, naturally, returned to it in less than a year. However, it is not clear whether there are draftees at the front in the Donbass. In fact, the Ukrainian Armed Forces and other power structures are a mixture of contract soldiers, volunteers, and a mobilized contingent, and among all these components there is a very high proportion of marginalized lumpen. The level of combat training is usually low, although, of course, it has increased over the period of the war. With the moral state the situation is reversed - at the beginning of the war the morale was quite high, now it is at an extremely low level.
Losses in technology were very high, given the duration of the war (its intensive phase lasted less than a year), they are even higher than the Syrian army. Ukrainian aviation, although suffering sensitive but not catastrophic losses in the first months of the war, almost stopped fighting at the end of the summer of 2014, that is, Ukrainian pilots were worse than Arab pilots. However, it should be noted that two of the most disastrous of their defeats (near Ilovaisk and Debaltseve), which accounted for most of the losses, the Ukrainian Armed Forces did not suffer from the militia.
The Armed Forces of the DPR and the LPR are armed with the same equipment as the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Part of it was captured in battle, part was simply bought from the enemy, part came along the line of "voentorg". Of course, they are staffed on a voluntary basis, while foreign volunteers (mostly Russian, but not only) are most motivated ideologically, although quantitatively they make up no more than 20% of the contingent. In general, from the point of view of technical equipment, combat, and moral and psychological training of personnel, Donbass militias are very similar to their adversary. This is not surprising, since they represent one people.
WHAT SHOWED THESE WARS
All these wars are characterized by huge losses in armored vehicles. It becomes finally clear that the traditional infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers have become obsolete because they do not protect the infantry from anything. In all the Middle Eastern wars, “carriages” are also very widely used today - commercial trucks and jeeps with a variety of weapons mounted on them in an artisanal way. Instead of armor, they have a small size and high speed. Nevertheless, the losses in the "carts" are even higher than in the "normal" armored vehicles, which is quite natural and expected, so they will never become any substitute for infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers. Moreover, there is no substitute for tanks. Accordingly, the only acceptable option for the development of armored vehicles is the further strengthening of the protection (active and passive) of tanks and the unification of the chassis of tanks and infantry fighting vehicles.
Another conclusion from the current wars is that it is necessary to abandon the fetishization of aviation and evaluate its role more adequately. This role is extremely important, but nevertheless the outcome of the war is decided on the ground. In each of the four wars, aviation has only one of the warring parties, and the air defense potential of the opposing side is very limited in quantitative and qualitative terms. Nevertheless, aviation has not yet won a single war, but in Ukraine it has, in fact, turned out to be useless. It should be understood that such giant aviation groups that NATO created against Iraq in the 1991 year and against Yugoslavia in the 1999 year, even NATO itself today is already unrealistic, especially since this applies to any particular country. Accordingly, the victory of one aircraft must be forgotten.
Another important conclusion is the confirmation of the extreme importance of the quantity factor, which has its own quality. Above it was specifically shown how great the losses of the warring armies in technology are, but at the same time how much technology they have left. None of the current European armies could have fought even with the Iraqi-Saudi level of losses, not to mention the Syrian-Ukrainian.
And, of course, the exceptional importance of combat and moral-psychological training of personnel was once again confirmed. In particular, it became clear again that the “professional”, that is, purely hired armies, were the worst fighting.
All these conclusions have an applied relation to Russia. So, the ongoing wars demonstrate that the Armed Forces must be equipped with a significant amount of good quality equipment, and the level of combat and moral and psychological training of personnel must be very high. What has been said seems banal to stupidity, but for some reason this many people do not understand this banality, which can be seen again in the example of the current wars. Therefore, a person who claims that Russia should have a “compact professional army” has nothing to do with military affairs, or with the interests of Russia, or both. The Russian army must be conscripts, and only a person who has served a full year in a call, and then passed a rigorous additional selection, can become a contract serviceman. New equipment should be purchased in adequate quantities: ground - in thousands of units, aviation - in hundreds, sea (except for large surface ships) - in dozens. In particular, the thousands must be purchased "Armata" in the tank version, and in the version of the BMP. The biggest mistake is to acquire new equipment in microscopic quantities (as most NATO countries are doing now). In this case, it becomes “golden” in production and operation and practically inapplicable in combat. Then it is better to upgrade the old technique.
The problem of quantity we are now facing in Syria. After the end of the Second World War in Syria - the most necessary for us in a political sense (along with two Chechens) and the most successful in military terms. However, the results could have been much greater if there were more aircraft and helicopters in the Russian grouping and if there was a regular shortage of aviation ammunition (ammunition should also be available in adequate quantities). That is, in this most necessary war for us, we disentangle the consequences of the previous economy on military spending. If such savings happen again, nothing even remotely resembles the flourishing of the economy and social sphere. Just the opposite will happen - we will dig ourselves a grave with our own hands for the joy of the rest of humanity.
Lessons from last year's wars
- Alexander Khramchikhin
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