Special Operations: December 10, 2004

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Armed forces in the Arab world have long created and utilized elite forces for special missions, and with good reason. Considering that the Arabs, during the 20th century, fought and lost five wars with Israel, it is no wonder that specialized units were raised and deployed in battle, if for no other reason than to counter the spectacularly successful elite units raised by the Israeli Defense Forces. Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, in particular, have paid attention over the years to uses and advantages of having elite forces of specially trained soldiers. 

The number of elite Syrian troops is probably somewhere around 4-5,000. Syria possesses one special forces division, and ten independent special forces regiments. The special forces division is organized into three regiments.  Overall command of the 14th SF Division rests with the SF Command in Damascus. The 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Special Forces Regiments are deployed along the Golan Heights area, a wise move considering they are the armys best troops. The rest of the SF Regiments 5 through 11, are stationed near the Turkish border and in Lebanon. Unlike the rest of the Syrian Army, which though not incompetent is in really bad shape both equipment and training-wise, the Syrian special forces are generally thought to have a fairly high level of readiness and are probably among the better-trained troops in the Army. However, any superiority that Syrias special units may have to the rest of the army in terms of training and readiness, is seriously blunted by the fact that nearly all of Syrias military equipment is obsolete and would be easy cannon fodder for Israeli ground and air forces. 

Given the right gear and know-how, history has proven that Syrian troops are tough, resilient fighters, if less technically competent than their Jewish counterparts. The Syrian Army is highly secretive about its capabilities, but it can be assumed that elites are probably equipped with the same weapons standard in the rest of the army, such as AK47/AKMs, RPG-7s, Dragunov sniper rifles, bayonets, and hand grenades. No matter how well their elite units are trained, major equipment upgrades are necessary before they can be expected to fight adequately. The problem with all of this is that Syria has a multi-billion dollar debt to Russia, the only country it can reasonably expect to sell it arms, and the Russians are hesitant to sell Syria any more arms unless they see some green for it. 

 


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