In an amazing and unsettling coincidence, it seems the recent massacre in Syria, which we are supposed to believe was committed by the Assad regime just as it had taken control of the civil war, was anticipated by the need for one more than 18 months in advance. Zerohedge posts a StratFor email from December 2011 via Wikileaks:
I spent most of the afternoon at the Pentagon with the USAF strategic studies group – guys who spend their time trying to understand and explain to the USAF chief the big picture in areas where they’re operating in. It was just myself and four other guys at the Lieutenant Colonel level, including one French and one British representative who are liaising with the US currently out of DC.
They wanted to grill me on the strategic picture on Syria, so after that I got to grill them on the military picture. There is still a very low level of understanding of what is actually at stake in Syria, what’s the strategic interest there, the Turkish role, the Iranian role, etc. After a couple hours of talking, they said without saying that SOF teams (presumably from US, UK, France, Jordan, Turkey) are already on the ground focused on recce [ZH: “recce” means reconnaissance] missions and training opposition forces. One Air Force intel guy (US) said very carefully that there isn’t much of a Free Syrian Army to train right now anyway, but all the operations being done now are being done out of ‘prudence.’ The way it was put to me was, ‘look at this way – the level of information known on Syrian OrBat this month is the best it’s been since 2001.’ They have been told to prepare contingencies and be ready to act within 2-3 months, but they still stress that this is all being done as contingency planning, not as a move toward escalation.
I kept pressing on the question of what these SOF teams would be working toward, and whether this would lead to an eventual air camapign to give a Syrian rebel group cover. They pretty quickly distanced themselves from that idea, saying that the idea ‘hypothetically’ is to commit guerrilla attacks, assassination campaigns, try to break the back of the Alawite forces, elicit collapse from within. There wouldn’t be a need for air cover, and they wouldn’t expect these Syrian rebels to be marching in columns anyway.
They emphasized how the air campaign in Syria makes Libya look like a piece of cake. Syrian air defenses are a lot more robust and are much denser, esp around Damascus and on the borders with Israel, Turkey. THey are most worried about mobile air defenses, particularly the SA-17s that they’ve been getting recently. It’s still a doable mission, it’s just not an easy one.
The main base they would use is Cyprus, hands down. Brits and FRench would fly out of there. They kept stressing how much is stored at Cyprus and how much recce comes out of there. The group was split on whether Turkey would be involved, but said Turkey would be pretty critical to the mission to base stuff out of there. EVen if Turkey had a poltiical problem with Cyprus, they said there is no way the Brits and the FRench wouldn’t use Cyprus as their main air force base. Air Force Intel guy seems pretty convinced that the Turks won’t participate (he seemed pretty pissed at them.)
There still seems to be a lot of confusion over what a military intervention involving an air campaign would be designed to achieve. It isn’t clear cut for them geographically like in Libya, and you can’t just create an NFZ over Homs, Hama region. This would entail a countrywide SEAD campaign lasting the duration of the war. They dont believe air intervention would happen unless there was enough media attention on a massacre, like the Ghadafi move against Benghazi. They think the US would have a high tolerance for killings as long as it doesn’t reach that very public stage. Theyre also questiioning the skills of the Syrian forces that are operating the country’s air defenses currently and how signfiicant the Iranian presence is there. Air Force Intel guy is most obsessed with the challenge of taking out Syria’s ballistic missile capabilities and chem weapons. With Israel rgiht there and the regime facing an existential crisis, he sees that as a major complication to any military intervention.
I imagine Mr. Putin knew this already when he expressed his doubts concerning the Syrian regime’s responsibility for the attack. At this point, I wouldn’t blame those who are beginning to wonder if the Boston Massacre was a false flag. We should have known George W. Bush wasn’t serious about war with Iran despite all the neocons beating the drum for one, given that the media was never full of atrocities committed by the Iranian government.
So, it looks like Syria is happening and my strategic antenna back in November 2011 were not quite as off-base as I’d concluded they were.