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Russian Heavy Bombers Are Hammering Syria — and It's Practice for Bigger Fights

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Russian Heavy Bombers Are Hammering Syria — and It's Practice for Bigger Fights

I was going to put this the Mid East thread, but considering these knuckleheads are Vice News - I'm making a thread.

November 19, 2015 | 1:30 pm - https://news.vice.com/article/russian-heavy-bombers-are-hammering-syria-and-its-practice-for-bigger-fights?utm_source=vicenewsfb

Read the full article in the link above.


This week, the Russian campaign in Syria took a new turn with the first-time use of all three types of Russian heavy bombers currently in service: the Tu-22M3 Backfire, Tu-160 Blackjack, and the venerable Tu-95 Bear. Two of the three Russian (née Soviet) bombers haven't played a major role in any military campaign since the 1980s, when then-Soviet Tu-22M Backfires were blowing the crap out of Afghanistan.

Now, the news isn't that they flew, exactly, or even that they were testing out new weapons, but rather that the Russians were very likely validating new military doctrine. While tactics and strategy are how a military thinks about fighting, doctrine is how a military thinks about tactics and strategy. It's sort of the meta-strategy and meta-tactics, if you will. It's very seldom classified or secret, because it's so fundamental and philosophical that classifying doctrine would be like classifying a philosophical treatise.

Militaries carry out exercises for many reasons, including signaling and training, and sometimes an exercise can be used to test and experiment with doctrine. While not nearly as rigorous as real-life experience — things in combat always go wrong that haven't been practiced before — these exercises at least allow for experimentation, precisely because much less is on the line.

Likewise, militaries can learn from experience during wartime. The Iraq War, for instance, is the reason the US eventually adopted General David Petraeus's approach to fighting an insurgency. This is one reason so-called "battle hardened" armies are considered superior; they have practical experience in finding out what really works in the field versus what the textbook claims will work. But it's also why the battlefield is a lousy place for experimentation. If the experiment goes badly, you don't get to go back to the drawing board, you get buried.

But once in a great while, there are cases in which things get inverted and you end up with a situation in which a war becomes a training ground. Case in point: Although the Germans completely kicked France's ass in World War II, the Germans and French used pretty similar equipment. The reason the Germans were so successful was their doctrine of Blitzkrieg ("lightning war").

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