Home News US Marines deployed to Syria are watching Russia’s fighting tactics

US Marines deployed to Syria are watching Russia’s fighting tactics

U.S. Marines with 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, attached to Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force, Crisis Response-Central Command, engage targets during a live-fire demonstration near At-Tanf Garrison, Syria, Sept, 7, 2018. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Carlos Lopez)

US Marines in the Middle East are getting a firsthand look at what war with Russia might look like, thanks to easily-observable military action by their long-standing military rival.

As Russia backs Pro-Assad Syrian and Turkish forces, the USMC units deployed on the ground are taking notes as they gear up for what seems to be in an inevitable war against nations with the military capability of Russia- a far cry from the nearly twenty years of war against insurgencies.

“We always learn things through operating, but … as we consider operating against near-peer and hybrid threats, there’s a lot of commonality in the past,” said Col. George Schreffler III, who commanded the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Central Command, a unit with a mission as complicated as their name.

According to Military.com, the Marines are learning that old soldiering skills -such as utilizing camouflage and watching the skies for enemy aircraft- are coming back into the fold, along with new skills, such as maintaining a small electronic footprint and learning how to jam enemy systems.

“We have to continue to train to minimize our signatures, both from an electromagnetic perspective and from a physical visual and audible observation perspective,” Schreffler added.

Another factor to be relearned -that led to Schreffler declining to go into too much detail- was operational security, or OPSEC, a nuance that seems to have degraded in the era of social media.

The colonel did note that US forces have shot down drones from pro-Assad Syrian forces, and that US and Russian warplanes have had some close encounters. In addition, Russia has been regularly disrupting US communications and honing their edge when it comes to anti-aircraft defenses.

“There clearly are threats out there and, with our aircrews in particular, operating in Central Command is a significant opportunity to assess and deal with those threats and to fly in an environment … where they’re gaining significant operational experience,” he said.

With the US military facing an overhaul both culturally and in terms of equipment, the lessons gathered in Syria may soon prepare Americans for a much more dire war in the future.

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