Small Wars Journal

Russia’s Desert Storm Moment in Syria

Wed, 10/28/2015 - 8:06am

Russia’s Desert Storm Moment in Syria by Cmdr. Daniel Dolan, USN (Retired), USNI News

Russia is having its Desert Storm moment in Syria. The near-daily release of Russian fighter cockpit videos and missiles being launched from Russian ships in the Caspian Sea is making millions of Russians feel proud and strong. For instance, on Oct. 21, Russian media reported that 53 strike sorties struck 72 “terrorist targets.” Oddly those same reports are even convincing some in the United States that Russia is somehow more effective in Syria than the United States and its allies.

Like many Americans in 1990–91, the autumn of 2001, and the spring of 2003, daily film clips fed to news outlets of guided bombs hitting targets on the front lines serves to boost the morale of the home audience. The public fascination with precision-guided weapons video, and videos of the first combat use of Tomahawk cruise missiles from Navy ships first took root in Desert Storm, and images of such precision and power left an impression that still lingers in the minds of many Americans. Twenty-six years later the use of combat footage to stir popular passions in Russia is an important secondary effect on which Vladimir Putin is capitalizing.

We — however — should not be so impressed. To the under-informed critics reacting to the Russian media onslaught with claims that the United States and Coalition allies are “doing nothing,” imagine if you will that the United States and Coalition released daily “best of” clips of airstrike footage from the battle against ISIS…

Read on.


This is not a "Desert Storm moment", this is not an "Allied Force moment"; this is not even a "Unified Protector moment".

Media-wise, it is a useful distraction to Russia's economic woes. Military-wise, it is a minor air campaign that has not significantly impacted the ground war in Syria. The Russian operation has more in common with some of the more minor NATO/ISAF air campaigns in Afghanistan/Pakistan than anything else.

Outlaw 09

Thu, 10/29/2015 - 8:43am

Outside of dropping a bunch of bombs many of them dumb iron bombs in places they claim they hit but then social media proves the Russian MoD statements are basically lies--not much has actually been achieved by the RuAF outside of giving it's pilots a bunch of flight time and killing civilians.

The Russian/Iranian/Hezbollah ground campaign has been a total failure, IS is still as strong as ever which was the "so called reason" Putin went in Syria in the first place.

A Desert Storm moment is has not been.........not even sure Russia is actually "winning".