Russia Carries Out More Syria Strikes in a Day than US Does in a Month

By Marc Thiessen


October 15, 2015

The New York Times has a front page story today describing how Russia is using Syria as a proving ground for its military modernization, demonstrating its new weaponry and showcasing its ability to project military power beyond its borders.

Buried in the story was this depressing nugget of information:

 Russia’s fighter jets are, for now at least, conducting nearly as many strikes in a typical day against rebel troops opposing the government of President Bashar al-Assad as the American-led coalition targeting the Islamic State has been carrying out each month this year….

Since its air campaign started on Sept. 30, Russia has quickly ramped up its airstrikes from a handful each day to nearly 90 on some days, using more than a half-dozen types of guided and unguided munitions, including fragmentary bombs and bunker busters for hardened targets, American analysts said.

 This is pathetic. General Jack Keane recently testified that 75 percent of US air sorties do not drop any bombs. “We have no strategy to defeat ISIS in Syria,” Keane declared. “Syria is ISIS’s sanctuary. We cannot succeed in Iraq if ISIS is allowed to maintain that sanctuary in Syria. We need a strategy now to defeat ISIS in Syria.”

It was our anemic military campaign that created the vacuum that Russia is now filling. It began with Obama’s failure to enforce his red line on Assad’s use of chemical weapons, which emboldened Putin to annex Crimea and launch a covert war in eastern Ukraine. Now he’s done with pretenses and secrecy and is openly bombing our allies on the ground in Syria.

 With even more evidence of American weakness, Putin could further test US resolve to defend our NATO allies in the Baltic States or others to which we have treaty obligations. He now has an airbase that puts Russian fighter jets five minutes from Turkey, a NATO ally, and has already sent jets to violate Turkish airspace. Other US adversaries, such as China and North Korea, could also be emboldened to test our resolve.

Putin is projecting power. Obama is projecting weakness. And weakness is provocative.