Monday, August 15, 2016

Escalation or Desperation?

The commitment of Hezbollah's special forces unit to combat in Syria is new to me. If it isn't a new development, my comments may be worthless.

This is a new development in my news flow:

The semi-official Fars News Agency reported on Sunday that the troops from Hezbollah’s Radwan Forces, one of the party’s special operations unit, were dispatched to Aleppo Hamdaniyah quarter amid the intensified fighting in the city.

The report said that the force would be used in the offensive to throw back the rebel/terrorist forces that made a major gain to break the government siege of rebel-held portions of Aleppo.

If this is new, it seems significant.

Hezbollah has been fighting for years and the death toll on behalf of Syria's Assad at the direction of Iran has been shaking Hezbollah and their Shia supporters in Lebanon.

Does the commitment of the Hezbollah special forces just mean that the pro-Assad forces need their unique capabilities to weaken the enemy holding positions around Aleppo prior to an assault by other forces loyal to Assad?

If so, why aren't the Russian, Iranian, and Syrian forces of similar types insufficient for this role? Is this just a temporary deployment for a specific operation?

Does the commitment of the special forces mean that Hezbollah is escalating their commitment to Assad despite the heavy casualties they've endured and the uneasiness on the home front about enduring losses for Assad?

If so, this could bleed the unit or give it experience. Is the Radwan Force now just in the mix?

Or is the deployment of the most trained unit in Hezbollah a sign that the rank and file are now too unhappy to really trust for offensive operations on behalf of Assad?

That is, is the unit being sent not as a special operations force to support the Hezbollah line units but as a loyal infantry unit that will fulfill the role of the shock troops of the offensive because the line units are no longer willing to carry out that role?

If so, this is one of the last reserves Hezbollah has to comply with Iran's orders to back Assad to the hilt. And it will take heavy casualties if it is used as shock troops of the offensive rather than for their special operations capabilities.

If so, this is a sign of desperation. Such elite troops will be used as regular infantry in desperate situations. Consider that two American parachute divisions were committed to the Battle of the Bulge as infantry units to stem the tide of the German offensive. Trained paratroopers died without having used their specialized training to get to the fight. And their ability to function as paratroopers was crippled by the losses.

Of course, if this Radwan Force has been active in the civil war all along my speculation is probably not that important.

It will be interesting to see how they are used.