One clear advantage of warfare for adversarial countries is they get to quickly learn all of the opposition’s new weapons and their military capabilities.
U.S. and NATO leaders got an eyeful when Russian forces unhinged with a barrage of 26 cruise missiles launched from ships stationed in the Caspian Sea, targeting Syrian President Bashar Assad’s enemies. What was surprising was the precision missile strikes hit targets 1,000 miles from where they were launched.
It was by far the longest range attack by Russian forces in modern history. To put that in perspective that’s like launching a Russian cruise missile from Topeka and hitting a target in Washington, D.C.
It’s the stuff of science fiction but it also expands the long-distance, unmanned nature of how warfare has evolved. U.S. and NATO forces will no doubt get more of a close-up view of Russia’s military capabilities.
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The intelligence gathering from Russia’s military involvement in the civil war in Syria will be better than any spy mission could accomplish. But the U.S. and NATO also will be collecting this valuable information as Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to flex his country’s military might in Ukraine and other parts of the world.
The U.S., which for 14 years has shown its military strength and hardware in the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq, now has the opportunity to watch the Russian military engagement. Syria is a new front in a brewing and potentially new Cold War as Russia tries to reassert itself as a global superpower.
An additional problematic wrinkle is Russia has lined up with Assad while the U.S. and other allied airstrikes are aimed specifically at Islamic State fighters. President Barack Obama views some rebel forces that are against Assad as allies on the ground in the fight against the Islamic State.
All of the fighting will only worsen the refugee crisis of people in the war-torn area fleeing into Europe.
You can bet that Obama and other Western leaders will continue to watch the fighting by Russia’s military in Syria and become even more wary as the bombs explode and more people run.