Friday, April 26, 2013

Cannon Fodder?

In light of Assad's recruitment of poorly trained but loyal light infantry para-militaries, it seems as if Assad is engaging in combat more lately rather than simple bombardments. How long can the militias endure their role?

Assad is relying more on para-militaries as his regular army is reduced by infantry casualties to what appears to me to be a specialist force of command-and-control, logistics, and firepower, with only limited infantry forces part of the formal army.

Assad seems to be using this force now, with reports of actual attacks to gain territory taking place:

Syrian government troops pushed into two northern Damascus neighborhoods on Friday, triggering heavy fighting with rebels as they tried to advance under air and artillery support, activists said.

The drive was the latest in a days-long offensive by government forces in and around the capital, an apparent bid to secure President Bashar Assad's main stronghold against rebel challenges.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the fighting between rebels and soldiers backed by pro-government militiamen was concentrated in the Jobar and Barzeh areas.

I'll guess that government army heavy forces (armor and mechanized infantry) backed by artillery plus secret police are leading, but relying on the National Defense Force militia units for the numbers needed to advance, engage, and push out rebels.

But just as the regular infantry was burned up in combat--which has led to the need to recruit NDP light infantry--the NDP will be used up. And at a faster rate than the already gruesome pace the regulars suffered, I'd guess, given the even poorer state of training and discipline in the militia force.

Assad's forces are giving better than they are taking lately, after scraping up existing troops by abandoning the northern, southern, and eastern parts of Syria and recruiting a government-paid militia.

But I don't think Assad's forces can sustain this surge. Unless Assad is buying time for an outside force to intervene at his side, I don't think his forces can achieve enough to make the losses worth it.