Russian warplanes sent to Syria to back the regime of Bashar Assad are breaking down at a rapid rate that appears to be affecting their ability to strike targets, according to a senior Defense official.
Nearly one-third of Russian attack planes and half of its transport aircraft are grounded at any time as the harsh, desert conditions take a toll on equipment and crews, said the official who was not authorized to speak publicly about sensitive intelligence matters.
People wonder why our defense budget is so large compared to other countries. Look at the globe and you see that on top of having actual ground, naval, and air forces--and training them to high standards with advanced weapons--we have to move those forces overseas (unless we want to spend all our time pounding Canada and Mexico).
And then supply and maintain them very far from home.
Russia hasn't sent many troops to Syria, and they are having problems maintaining them in action.
Which is why I suggested before Russia invaded Crimea in early 2014 that if I was in charge of the eastern Ukraine mission, I wouldn't commit to an offensive that exceeds the capacity of vehicles to advance on one load of fuel and ammo. Just in case.
Russia will adapt, I'm sure. But their experience shows that logistics doesn't just happen.
UPDATE: The Army is trying to convince Congress that training should not be slighted in our budget difficulties:
Training is much less portable. More training means more money for wherever the troops are based and is not as sexy as new weapons and equipment. But, as the generals are seeking to make clear, the key to victory is the training. It not only takes money, it takes time.
It's easy to skip training and buy new weapons when the troops aren't in combat. Perhaps there aren't enough spare parts to keep the weapons working. Maybe the troops don't really know how to use it. But it is a weapon. And it is there and quantifiable. Training is not quantifiable until you send those troops untrained with the new weapons with insufficient spare parts to keep it working.
Then you get to add up the burnt weapons and dead soldiers on the battlefield.