Saturday, December 26, 2015

Syrian Army Manpower Weakness Excerpted From Recent News

July speech by Assad on manpower weaknesses.

"In a striking admission, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria said on Sunday that the country’s army faced a manpower shortage and had ceded some areas to insurgents in order to hold onto other regions deemed more important.

Syrian Army is down from 300,000 to about 80,000 to 100,000.

"The strength of the regular Syrian army is estimated to be down from a pre-war figure of 300,000 to between 80,000 and 100,000. Fatigue, desertions and losses have taken a heavy toll, as has the sectarian nature of the conflict. That means once-loyal Alawites – the Assad family’s minority sect – are no longer ready to fight for Sunni areas but only to defend their own homes.

“Idlib fell very quickly because Syrian soldiers were simply not prepared to fight,” said one Syrian expert. “Ahrar al-Sham [one of the rebel groups] were surprised how quickly the regime defences crumbled.”

Low Pay Causing Moonlighting and Use of Local Militias

"...soldiers in the capital moonlight driving taxis, complaining of low wages eroded by steep price rises. Syrian officials often say that Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaida’s local affiliate, are paid far better than their own forces. Scruffy militiamen in camouflage trousers and T-shirts man security checkpoints.

Young men fleeing for Europe often say they are prompted to leave by receiving their call-up papers or being ordered to report for reserve duty.

National Defense Force

"Another factor in the decline of the regular army is the creation of a 125,000-strong locally based National Defence Force, which has been trained and paid by the Iranians, who also favour the use of Shia militia fighters from Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan as well as Hezbollah…. "

"...minorities are flocking to the NDF to avoid recruitment into an army still comprised mostly of Sunnis. Most NDF fighters are Alawites, but many Christians and Druze have joined as well…. minorities are flocking to the NDF to avoid recruitment into an army still comprised mostly of Sunnis. Most NDF fighters are Alawites, but many Christians and Druze have joined as well…. For many fighters, the main attraction is fighting for their own home towns and the chance to accumulate extra wealth at a time when the country's economy is collapsing. Unlike soldiers, they say they are allowed and even encouraged to loot houses when attacking rebel-held areas. "I get 15,000 lira ($158) a month, and I am allowed to keep a percentage of the loot from any battle I fight in,..."

Amnesty offered in July but not trusted

Mr. Assad issued a general amnesty for Syrians who have avoided military duty or deserted the security forces — provided they have not joined the insurgency against him. He has issued amnesties in the past but has yet to release thousands of political prisoners, leaving many people mistrustful of this latest pledge.

Forced Conscription and Bribery

"...In a report released yesterday, the human rights organisation said that “since the beginning of November and up to 15 December, more than 1,217 young men have been arrested for conscription into the ranks of the regime forces; about half of them have official approval to defer military service.”
“Among those arrested, nearly 358 are university students. The majority of detention incidents took place in the province of Damascus as well as the provinces of Aleppo, Hama, Latakia and Homs, according to witnesses,” the report added.

According to the NGO, “early in November the regime authorities distributed lists of dozens of thousands of young men for conscription to fight with the army, local militias, or under the command of foreign militants and circulated them to recruitment centres in the provinces under its control.”

The report explained that the lists included “the names of young people aged 25 to 35 years old, including government employees and university students, even though [these individuals] had obtained formal approval to postpone their mandatory military service.” It added that “doctors and nurses over the age of 45 years old have [also] been informed to report to regime military field hospitals.”
“After being arrested, these young people are referred to the military police headquarters then to the frontline to fight against armed opposition factions.”

According to the report, the aim is to compensate the huge shortage of manpower in the government forces, especially after a significant portion of local militias defected to European countries to seek asylum in addition to trying to gain back land taken my militias after receiving strong aerial support from Russian forces after 30 September.

The Network added that a further reason for the recruitment drive is to solicit bribes and blackmail from youths who want to have their names deleted from these lists, thus representing a potential revenue stream for officers in the recruitment centres, Ministry of Defence and military police.

Pasted from <>

Changing Momentum and Conscription

One might wonder if the changing fortunes of war the Assad regime is experiencing on the battlefield with the intervention of the Russians might reverse the manpower concerns of the Syrian Army.

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