Thursday, April 19, 2018

The catastrophic flaw in the Gerasimov "Doctrine"

A lot has been said about the Gerasimov "Doctrine", I will summarize it for as best I understand it.

Russia is broke. It can't afford expensive wars anymore so it came up with a way to fight on the cheap. This is the so called Gerasimov "Doctrine". The core idea here is to deliberately create a fog of war to disguise Russian strategic intentions and use the resulting confusing to achieve military objectives with relatively small amounts of force.

The strategic flaw with this is the Gerasimov "doctrine" is that a fog of war can quickly become uncontrolled and disable even Russian initiatives. See Uderzo and Goscinny's Asterix and the Roman Agent for how that can happen. I think we are very close to exposing that flaw at this time in Syria.

One of the places where the Gerasimov "Doctrine" has been at work is in Syria. The Russians have been able to mask the true state of the conflict with fake news and media spectaculars that allow them to undertake military operations that support the Assad regime and frustrate any attempts to develop natural gas transit routes in the region. Most of this work has been achieved with a reinforced brigade size formation and private military contractors.

What the Russians are not prepared for is Israel trying to push Iran out of Syria. The Iranians have a unique position in the region. They support the Assad regime and ensure alignment with Hezbollah in Lebanon. Iran possesses significant amounts of SRBM technology and it could (if it wanted) deploy such missiles in Syria and put Israel's population centers in range. That is why Israel is unhappy with Iran in Syria.

If Israel and Iran have a go at each other, there is little Russia can do to stop it. This will create a fog of war that Russia will not be able to control (as its Gerasimov "Doctrine" requires).  Also if Iran and Israel go at each other, Russian troops could get caught in the middle.

An uncontrolled fog of war like that will create a situation where Russia with its thinly spread units will be under constant threat from Israeli or Iranian action.

Assad for his part will not know whether he can rely on Russia for help, or Iran for help or if he will be killed in the next Israeli or NATO strike, or if there is an JaN, JaI, ISIS, PMU or FSA hit on him.

Under such a constant threat, people will get jumpy and make mistakes.

Assad for his  part will attempt to consolidate against potential adversaries, rapidly expanding on several fronts to seize as much security space as possible. This will thin out his forces and increase his vulnerability.

As this environment of constant threat will continue without resolution, the expenses involved with the mistakes will rise and Russia will find itself on a slippery slope towards a very expensive war.

As the price of the alert escalates, Russia and Assad will find themselves facing the prospect of losing their war. That will make them more likely to lash out and precipitate an even wider conflict that draws in even more countries.

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