Anonymous has left a new comment on your post “SECOND POST – AUGUST 29, 2012 – WHY THE “REFUGEE P…
Thanks for the explanation. A separate question from your latest interview is why the hesitation to call up the reserves? You implied money, but I find that a bit hard to believe. Survival is on the line.
Finally, it would help many of us to know what the Syrian government needs to do to strangle the supply lines and ways into the country. Another question is if Syria or Iran can do anything offensive. So far, it looks like very little has been done to deter Turkey or Jordan from taking the money and letting the NATO alliance from doing what it wants.
ANONYMOUS SENDS A VERY IMPORTANT QUESTION WHICH SHOULD BE ANSWERED FORTHRIGHTLY.
Before we commence with an explanation, let’s agree on certain facts which affect the modalities of the situation on the ground in Syria.
The Syrian army is 300,000-375,000 strong. It is divided into four Army Groups (faylaq/fayaliq). Each army group or army corps is made up of three Soviet-style divisions each with about 12,000 soldiers. Every division is fully mechanized which means movement is automated and swift. The First Army Group is located in the South around Damascus. This group contains the 4th Mechanized Armored Division which is in reality a “security division” – i.e. anti-insurgency. It is under the command of Dr. Assad’s brother, Maj. Gen. Maher Al-Assad. It is nominally under the control of the Ministry of Defense. However, the 4th Division operates quite independently given circumstances and expediencies on the ground. First Army Group base is at Qatana to the West and facing the Golan Heights.
The Second Army Group is located to the North near Homs. The Third straddles the line between Hama and Aleppo. The Fourth, is in the North and concerns itself with the coast, Turkey and Iraq to the East.
The Fourth is a relatively new division added during the last 12 years.
All army groups have three batalions of special forces attached to them and an unspecified number of agents from both the Political Security Directorate and Party Security Directorate. These intelligence units are in place to detect any deviations from military routine. They report directly to the Ministry of the Interior.
The number of Military Intelligence agents and its budget is unknown, but it is quite a huge department.
Syria also has an air force with around 60,000 personnel including pilots and mostly ground support units.
Syria has a very advanced and wide-spread air defense division which controls the fully integrated S-300 and Pantsyr defense systems.
The navy is small but directs all deployments of Syria’s formidable network of anti-ship cruise missiles: the Yakhont and Iran’s “silkworm”-type missile.
Syrian army and air force reserves number over 500,000 men.
Syria also has a vast constellation of security and intelligence organizations which have largely overlapping jurisidictions depite their titles:
1. Military Intelligence (Al-Mukhabarat Al-‘Askariyya);
2. General Security (Al-Amn Al-‘Aam);
3. National Security (Al-Amn Al-Qawmi);
4. Political Security (Al-Amn Al-Siyaasi);
5. Air Force Intelligence (Idarat Al-Mukhabarat Al-Quwwaat Al-Jawwiyya);
6. Presidential Security (Al-Amn Al-Ri’aasi);
7. Republican Guards (Al-Haras Al-Jumhouri);
8. Palestinian Security (Al-Amn Al-Filastini);
9. Party Security (Al-Amn Al-Hizbi);
10. Interior Security (Al-Amn Al-Daakhili).
The number of personnel in intelligence and security cannot be known since the government does not release any such statistics. It is estimated by this blogger from pure instinct that the numbers exceed two hundred thousand.
Along with the military and security establishments are paramilitary militia. I have discussed these groups before in a prior posting, but, it may be germane to revisit this interesting and very misunderstood dimension of Syria’s security forces. They are regularly referred to in the Western media by the pejorative-sounding name: “Shabbiiha“.