Saturday, January 21, 2017

How many Iranian Generals have died in Syria?

via The New Yorker (Oct 2016).
Iran has increasingly been forced to acknowledge its losses—including at least four generals in the past year—with some reports suggesting that twice that number have been killed since the intervention began. Brigadier General Hossein Hamedani, who was killed on October 8th, was given a state funeral. Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, personally called on Hamedani’s family to convey his condolences. Khamenei’s official Twitteraccount, in English, lauded the general for fulfilling his “martyrdom wish.”

Hamedani’s death was a setback for Iran—and possibly for Syria, too. According to Jane’s Defense Weekly, Syria’s regular Army has been halved since the war began, in 2011. Assad has increasingly relied on leaders in Iran to develop strategy, and counted on Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy force in Lebanon, to provide new fighters. Hamedani was the senior Iranian tactician in northern Syria, where the regime is simultaneously fighting Western-backed rebels, the Islamic State, a local Al Qaeda franchise, and smaller militias. Hamedani was a hero of the war with Iraq—the deadliest modern conflict in the Middle East—and his death was the most notable Iranian military loss since that war ended.
Story here. 

How did we miss this?  The problem with gaining combat experience is that if its done improperly you start losing valuable personnel (the same can be said if you "over deploy" the force with back to back tours and increased optempo to satisfy a strange forward basing strategy...HELLO Pentagon!).

I would say that the Iranians are gaining combat experience but at the expense of current expertise and destroying the "seed corn" of an effective force in the future.

Syria might be buying us time to effectively deal with them after the madness of Obama's nuclear deal.  From my seat things are grim for the two countries that sought to become masters of the Middle East.  The Turk military has suffered a catastrophic purge which has destroyed any hint of combat effectiveness/leadership that they might have had and the Iranians are seeing the same thing happen by pushing their best and brightest into the meat grinder that is Syria.

Even worse for the Iranians?  We know that the Quds Force has been active in Syria but additionally its believed that in addition to volunteers on Jihad, they're also losing regulars.  Check this out from the same article.
Iran’s aid has increased since the Islamic State, the Nusra Front, and other Sunni extremists began seizing large areas of Syria and Iraq, in mid-2014. Over the past month, hundreds of additional Iranian “advisers” have reportedly gone to Syria. Middle East media outlets claim that General Qassem Suleimani, the renowned commander of the Quds Force, arrived in Syria this month to mobilize a new offensive around Aleppo. The growing Iranian ground presence has coincided with Russia’s new bombing campaign by air.
Side note.  I don't like the targeted assassination of "high value targets".  In my opinion focusing on individual leaders instead of conducting the war is a distraction.  Leaders can be replaced but when there is no one left to lead then the war is over.  I personally feel that the current policy of raids and drone strikes is a fools errand.  Having said that I would cheer if we caught General Suleimani in a strike while he's in Syria.  I've heard rumors that the guy was behind the Quds Force while they were active in Iraq.  A B-2 strike on his sorry ass instead of training camps would be welcome news. 

Back on task.  The Iranians have probably lost a couple of battalions (at least) of troops in Syria.  We're talking Generals but they've probably lost quite a few Colonels and Majors too.

We have an opportunity.  If we can act decisively against ISIS and get that issue solved we might have the room to deal with Iran properly while they're weakened from their participation in Syria.

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