Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, Army General Valery Gerasimov: “We have broken the backbone of the shock forces of terrorism”
The defeat of the armed groups of terrorists in Syria has become one of the main military outcome of the year. And in the Russian army, of course, played a decisive role
This first of all, I wanted to talk extensively with the Chief of Staff – First Deputy Defense Minister Army General Valery Gerasimov. At the beginning of the conversation, I remembered an anecdote about a cutlass and watches, told Russian President Vladimir Putin at a recent press conference. I said Valery V., that this anecdote surely warmed the soul of every military man.
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– How did he show you Valeriy?
– very important, a good anecdote. With a deep meaning.
– Valeriy as autumn 2015 so quickly and secretly to transfer to Syria our large group of troops? I then read in the American press, that the local generals almost in panic were. They were not expecting such a hurried from our army. And even complained that their intelligence too late …
– Operation carefully planned, taking into account all the issues identified the necessary forces and means. We have in mind and military component, and providing. But the experience of the transfer of forces in such a distance, to the territory of a State which has no border with our country, we have almost was not. There was only one instance in 1962 – “Anadyr” operation, when the Soviet Union broke troops to Cuba. The experience we have also taken into account. Handy and training our units obtained during unannounced inspections. In the course of their transfer was worked out over long distances, using all modes of transportation: air, rail, sea. The rearrangement was carried out discreetly as possible, without attracting much attention. 50 units of aeronautical engineering was focused on the airfield Hmeymim …
– Over a period of approximately? For a month, a week?
– Somewhere in a month before all this took … More time required providing component. It was necessary to create an infrastructure, a system of comprehensive support, including logistical support.
– Why when planning operations in Syria, our General Staff was not originally provided for the use of ground units and parts, the main emphasis was placed on the aircraft? What is the “trick” was?
– assess the state of the Land Forces of the Armed Forces of Syria. Despite the fact that they have long participated in the fighting, suffered losses, some parts still were able to perform the tasks. It was necessary to solve the problems in the first place for exploration purposes of fire damage, disruption of enemy control. Just these problems and can solve our aerospace component. And directly on the land areas of the fighting were Syrian units with the participation of our military advisers. There were also groups of patriotic segments of the population.
Therefore, initially deploying terrestrial component is not provided.
Another important task – to organize the management of all troops and forces involved in the fighting. For this purpose were deployed command post in our group Hmeymime and control centers on the areas where military operations are conducted.
– And as our General Staff into account the peculiarities of the tactics of the terrorists? What is especially pay attention to?
– We have experience in fighting terrorists, and we will, of course, taken into account. In addition, with the start of the events in Syria General Staff monitored the situation, knew the tactics of particular actions of these [hired mercs] gangs. We understood that in addition to the terrorist acts they apply and tactical techniques. At the head of these gangs were commanders, specially trained instructors from a number of Middle Eastern and Western countries. Were former Iraqi army officers. They seized over the period, while the fighting took place, a large number of weapons and equipment of the Iraqi and Syrian armies. Alone tanks and armored vehicles have been in service until 1500. Plus, where some 1,200 guns and mortars. It actually was the regular army.
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– A maximum number of terrorists you remember on intelligence reports? At that time, when we started the operation?
– On September 30, 2015 there were in Syria, about 59,000 in all formations. Plus, for the past 2 years they have managed to recruit more of the order of 10 thousand …
– Complete army, we can say …
– But for these 2 years, according to our data, virtually destroyed about 60,000 militants, including over 2800 – of people from the Russian Federation.
For two years, according to our data, virtually destroyed about 60,000 fighters in Syria
– Americans reported that their coalition aircraft before September 30, 2015 made 7,000 sorties. Two years bombed. But why is it that prior to our entry into the war with the terrorists they are 20 percent to 70 percent of the expanded control over Syrian territory? What was there was engaged in the American coalition?
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– I think the coalition will not put the task at the time, and even now, in the final defeat of LIH (terrorist organization proscribed in Russia – Ed…). Look, the number of strikes of the international coalition all this time was 8-10 per day. Our air force is quite small forces inflicted blows daily 60-70 fighters, the infrastructure at their bases. A highest voltage during periods – the order of 120-140 beats per day. Only such methods could break the back of international terrorism in Syria. A 8-10 beats per day … Well, apparently the target from the coalition were different. The purpose of something they had been largely – the fight against Assad, not with LIH.
– For the first time since the creation of the National Defense Management Center, where we are now, the General Staff and the Ministry of Defense on all cylinders enable this structure. As it has shown itself?
– Establishment of National Defense Management Center dramatically changed approaches to the management of the entire military organization of the state. In particular, we felt the experience of operations in Syria. When access to all forms of communication, organized daily data collection and analysis of the situation. Work was comfortable, and we do not feel a lack of information.
– In the online mode, many problems have been solved?
– Of course. Strikes, for example, our aviation, missile forces, high-precision long-range weapons we with Defense Minister observed on the screen in real time.
UAV transmits the picture, it sees the commander at the command post in Hmeymime, and we see the same thing in Moscow. But he manages, Commander!
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– Why two and a half years of our operations in Syria and unable to agree with the coalition led by the United States on the joint struggle?
– From the beginning we tried to negotiate, and we have something happen. Signed a memorandum on safety flight aviation. Incidentally, this memorandum scrupulously observed by both parties. We signed an agreement with the Americans and with Jordan, according to which established the southern area of de-escalation. It was the first such zone in Syria. This was an important breakthrough. All of our other proposals on joint planning organization, conducting reconnaissance, destruction of the terrorists were met with misunderstanding, failures … We have not seen from them the desire to communicate. Although, of course, it would be of great benefit. Joint planning, strikes, conduct of operations
– Nevertheless, the Americans any claims we put forward … Like, our planes flew too dangerous to their planes … What’s actually happened?
– With the deployment of combat operations and the approach of the Syrian government troops to the Euphrates in eastern Syria, we are really Americans established zone delineation air operations of our videoconferencing and the international coalition. What is it? West of the Euphrates operates our aircraft (VC), to the east – the US. But all along the Euphrates, and to de-escalate the line.
– It was marked on the map?
– Yes, it is labeled. If we imagine the map, then the level of Deir ez-Zor … and go to the east … Suvar, Abert Laba, and the transition to the border with Iraq. It is somewhere around 120-130 kilometers from Abu Kamal to the north. In this triangle of planned joint actions. Just one area where there were active hostilities. In the area east of the Euphrates on the joint use of both video conferencing and air international coalition on the corresponding side notification. And no problems. One unpleasant incident took place on December 13.
– And what is there is the essence of this case?
– Two of the aircraft Su-25 of our videoconferencing performed reconnaissance and search tasks in the western part of the valley of the Euphrates River. No one in the east did not come. There was also our Su-35. American aircraft F-22 came from the eastern part of Syria, imitated a few visits, determine the attack, were shot flares. He was at a high altitude, then dived on the lower. Before our aircraft was less than a hundred meters. He is a real danger. I approached our Su-35.
F 22 immediately went to the east, in its own zone. It took about 20 minutes
of the Su-35 went to perform their tasks. Again, the F-22 appears …
– The same?
– Same. Again the same story. Again comes the Su-35. Once he appeared – F-22 left. The American led a dangerous game.
– Americans in Syria established its base. She was still there?
– Yes there is. Et-TANF.
– And what are they, for your information, there do?
– The base in the south of Syria, it is limited to areas of land a radius of 55 kilometers. This is the border of Syria, Jordan and Iraq. There is a base. According to the aerospace and other types of intelligence, militias are on it. They actually there are prepared. Moreover, recently the British broadcaster BBC BBC said the evacuation of militants from Raqqa was organized. Four people were taken by Kurds under the guise of Americans Shaddad camp – it is in the north-eastern Syria. It is controlled by the Kurdish area, and there is also an American base. In addition, Shaddad camp came about more 800 people from the eastern bank of the Euphrates, from the area where the Kurds attacked …
– It’s all Nedobitko …
– This is actually LIH. But after the work conducted with them, they disguise themselves, take another name – “The new Syrian army” and others. Their task – to destabilize the situation. We know that from Shaddad camp about 400 people went to the area of Al-TANF. Already after the main LIH forces were defeated, they were trying to destabilize the situation, advancing from the east bank of the Euphrates. But suffered losses. We think, somewhere 750 people are now in Shaddad and about 350 – in Al-TANF.
– You mean the militants?
– Yes, of militants. In Al-TANF whole area blocked by Syrian forces on the perimeter of the 55-kilometer zone. Most importantly, a few months we have seen the nomination out militants. When control was weaker from the area of Al-TANF even came out about 350 militants. There was a threat of capture Karyaten city in Syria. We have time to take action … It was defeated, these forces were defeated. There were prisoners of these camps. It is clear that there is a preparation. Moreover, there is a refugee camp, “Rukban” – the largest in Syria.
– Right there? In this zone?
– Right in the zone, somewhere in the 25 kilometers to the west of Al-TANF. There are more than 50,000 Syrian refugees. Syria has created reconciliation Center as part of the Russian military group.
He actually coordinates and manages the delivery of all humanitarian assistance, humanitarian convoys, our Russian, UN. Everywhere they go convoys, although the problems to be solved and the government, and with the United Nations, lacking, but in Rukbane does not work: the Americans will not let them go – neither the Syrians nor the other guards. People are suffering. We say that the location of the US base is contrary to common sense. Now even more: Syria’s territory is exempt from all gangs LIH, there none left any threat to Syria you do not. What is there? For what purpose? While the answers to obscure. But there may be new terrorist groups …
– Here you are now saying that the creation of new armed groups, American instructors trained the militants … And we do not have to return to Syria, those airplanes and helicopters, the personnel, which is now displayed in the Russia?
– We have it, as you know, are the two bases. One in Hmeymime, Air Force, and the second, naval, in Tartous. In addition, we are closely involved in the government of Syrian troops, our advisors are located in almost all divisions. In two years, officers, NCOs Syrian army got a lot of practice. Now they are able to conduct military operations and defend their territory. Our forces, we can with our database to help if needed. These forces would be enough to maintain the stability and territorial integrity of Syria.
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– Do I understand correctly that we leave these two, our base for the continuation of assistance to the Syrian government army, right?
– Yes. Because the situation is still unstable.
Until full stability is necessary for some time, so the base there are reasonable, they’re needed. In order not to repeat what it was before September 2015 … On the other hand, we must not forget that Russia has its own interests in the Middle East …
– During operations in Syria and how often you and the minister of defense had to discuss course of the operation with the Supreme Commander. This was done face to face in the Kremlin, in the General Staff or by phone?
– Differently. Usually on the status and progress of the tasks I have every morning and evening, reporting to the Minister of Defense, and he – the president. Once or twice a week, the minister reports to the president personally, presenting the necessary documents, maps, videos. Sometimes the Supreme Commander comes on me personally, sometimes together with the Minister we go to his report. The President defines the goals, objectives, he was aware of all the dynamics of the fighting, with each direction. And, of course, puts the problem in perspective.
– Russian Defense Ministry Information Department of the General Staff and almost every day inform the public almost after every missile and bomb strikes on terrorists in Syria. Why, in your opinion, in the same way it has been received American coalition?
– Eight months ago, they also started to inform, to provide a summary. Of course, unlike the indigenous. They are – from time to time, and we – on a daily basis. Reconciliation Center stands, gives a summary of all the issues, and the Department of Information, Main Operations Directorate … Why do people wonder what’s going on there? It is necessary to tell what happened during the day, what are your plans …
– What was the most difficult of the General Staff in the planning of a military operation in Syria?
– The most difficult part in the preparation and in the initial period of operation – it is the organization of interaction with government forces, with all the variegated groups. Many units of patriotic population. They are armed, we attract them to the side of the government troops. It was difficult to establish the interaction of all these groups with our air and space forces, to organize all kinds of software.
But we have already learned this. Everything was included in the framework and operating correctly. In Hmeymime created a modern command center, which provides control group of our troops in Syria. The work goes smoothly.
– What adjustments General Staff brought in the actions of our troops to fight terrorism? Still, it was, in fact, the first in the history of Russian clash of our troops with such large formations of thugs.
– Adjustments are made constantly. Because changing approaches, forms, methods of action. First, in small amounts, then a larger scale was the use of “jihad-mobiles” by terrorists. And it had to respond …
So, during the battle for Deir ez-Zor, for other settlements in the Euphrates River Valley, the use of “Jihad-Mobile” has become almost a mass character. First there was the 2-3 “jihad-mobile”, and then at 7-8 – this is one battle. What it is? This is a car, a tank or infantry fighting vehicles stuffed with explosives. There can be 300-400 kilos of explosives or more. It is run by a suicide bomber. He chooses the shortest path to positions of government troops. With high speed extends to them and carries out undermine. Such machines can be two, three.
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In this sector – mass casualties, many dead and wounded. This immense power explosion. Panic … form a gap – depending on the power of the explosive used and the number of “jihad-Mobile.” In the summer of 2016 in the Aleppo region in this way three “jihad-mobile” was able to get out of town. Blew up two checkpoints Syrian government
troops. It formed a gap width of 500-700 meters. Actions militants were planned, they hit on both sides of the corridor and broke through the encirclement. Then he had about three months to recover the lost ground, and with heavy fighting.
Naturally, this does not fit in the box, so to speak, normal hostilities. But the findings had to be done …
– And what?
– Firstly, conducted constant surveillance. Determined traffic directions in which they can go. In these areas are built fences units, mine fields, and so on, organized fire destruction of the system, beginning with the distant approaches. This ATGM, tanks, as you approach – grenade. As a result of 2-3 “jihad-mobile” were destroyed at the stage of the nomination, the other – at the approach to the front edge. Troops learn to counter them.
In addition, all settlements were prepared igilovtsami circular defense, apparently there used the labor of the local civilian population. In fact, under the ground was built a second city communication trenches, all the necessary infrastructure. Assault troops must be able to fight in such conditions.
– Where igilovtsy gained a huge amount of “Toyota”?
– They were the years of aid flows came from a number of countries, including the Middle East … and through non-governmental funds. Not only the car – it’s just a civilian component. As well as modern weapons, new ammunition, the modern means of …
Means of reconnaissance, binoculars, night sights, communications – everything a modern, not antediluvian.
– There is evidence that part of the igilovtsev already in Afghanistan was, in Jordan. Where else is spreading this infection?
– Some returned to the country from whence they came illegally. The bulk is moved to Libya, the countries of South-West Asia. In Afghanistan, it also can not be ruled out – the soil is there for them fertile.
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– How do you assess the state of the armed forces of Syria at the beginning of the operation today?
– Big difference. Syrian armed forces during the war by the autumn of 2015 actually lost the whole territory. Under the control of government forces had 10 percent of the territory of Syria.
– This is the moment when we started the operation?
– Yes. Very hard was the situation. And morale and fatigue. The lack of munitions, the required types of security and management. We began our operation, some time later came the first successes. Any victory inspire, inspire, is now the Syrian army has acquired good experience. We helped them, repaired the equipment in place … Today, the Syrian army is capable of performing the tasks of protecting their territory.
– How many of our military passed through the Syrian campaign?
– more than 48 thousand soldiers and officers. Of these, one in four was awarded or presented to the government awards. Departmental awards were given to all.
We in Syria have experienced more than 200 models of weapons and equipment
– How do you assess the role of our military advisers, working as part of the Syrian army?
– I appreciate their role. Each unit – the battalion, brigade, regiment and division – is the unit of the Military Adviser. In its structure – the necessary officials. This operational structure, intelligence, artillery, engineering, translators and other officials. They are, in fact, plan to combat operations. Assist in the management of units in combat missions. In all areas of activities linked to a single concept, unified plan, management is carried out from the command post in the group Hmeymime.
– Did the General Staff aim to break in Syria as many soldiers as possible?
– Yes. And we did it. Not just the military. The most important thing – to break in the commanders and officers. District commander – all have been there, and for a long time. All commanded the group. All the chiefs of staff …
– They were there for four or five shifts, commanders?
– Dvornikov, Kartapolov, Surovikin, Zarudnitsky, Zhuravlev …
– Did you give them the opportunity at this level porukovodit, huh?
– They came with the basic composition of its management staff: operational management chiefs, intelligence, communications, missile troops and artillery, engineers …
– That is, they took his staff, the whole machine to run in?
– In the same way the armies of control – too all, 90 per cent of the divisions and more than half of the regiments and brigades.
– That is, we now have a command structure that is hardened in these battles … with real combat experience …
– Have combat experience, yes.
– Valeriy, I would like to come back here again to this question, we remain in Hmeymime, we remain in Tartus.
You said this to help the Syrian army, right?
– Yes, for possible assistance.
– You did not mention the naval component. Of the ships will be in the eastern Mediterranean? Just as we stand there? Our ships. Or we leave?
– Anywhere we uydom. In the Mediterranean, now operates on a permanent basis our staff naval forces.
– It is still too, huh?
– It is there, and to developments in Syria acted since 2015. And stay on a permanent basis …
– You have repeatedly visited Syria and met with our soldiers, officers, looked them in the eye … What is your impression was of communicating with these people, with your subordinates? From the people who carried out your orders, the orders of the Supreme Commander, the Minister of Defense.
– The impressions are good, very positive. Immediately struck by the desire to accomplish the task – in whatever it … Good battle coherence. And this is very good because the officers to go without additional training, and on rotation … for three months. This means that the entire system of combat training and administration work, people are willing to carry out tasks, and there are, in practice, is shown. Our officers, soldiers performed many heroic and courageous actions, demonstrated resistance trained Syrians.
Over time, we came to what became more Syrian units, which are able to attack, gained combat stability … Brigadier General Hassan Suhel and its affiliated companies have shown themselves very well in offensive operations against terrorists.
But this success would not have happened without our advisors.
– A Syrian campaign the General Staff have learned to retrieve?
– The study and generalization of experience always happens. From the first day of the campaign, such work was carried out … All the cases that have occurred, combat experience carefully studied, communicated to all departments and to the soldiers who were going to just fall off to all of this was taken into account. We spent a couple of conferences to exchange experiences. It published a number of benefits to the generalization of the experience.
– A large number of our weapons were tested in Syria. As General Staff evaluates them?
– We have experienced it more than 200 samples of weapons and equipment, modern – those taken into service recently, who were going to take, which were already in service. It seems to have passed all state tests, and exercises show everything is normal … But in the course of the combat mission there are some problems that were not noticed before. It has something to refine.
About any problems reported to our officers and soldiers. In Syria, carried out continuous military-scientific support in the application of all types of weapons and equipment.
– They say there have been and our designers and engineers, yes?
– engineers, designers, military scientists. Developers – all were there. For each sample of weapons marked its positive aspects that need to be finalized. Now the vast majority of these defects have been remedied. The fact that we have tested equipment and weapons in combat conditions – is a huge deal. Now we are confident in his arms.
– you often have in the meantime contact the Chief of the General Staff of Syria?
– This is mainly done by phone?
– And on the phone and in person. I came to visit him, and he said to me in Hmeymim … leaving together into separate directions. Constantly.
– He knows the Russian language, is more or less talking?
– He studied with us in the Frunze Academy.
– Recently the Minister of Defense on behalf of the Russian President presented awards and announced to thank all those who provided security of Putin’s visit to Syria. Well, that day, you know, when he announced the withdrawal group home. It was a special operation?
– These activities are not conducted randomly. Careful preparation is required. Brought the necessary forces and means on land, in the air, at sea, to ensure the safety of this visit. They coped with their task.
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– You can make a prediction of further developments in Syria? That’s at least for 2018?
– On the military side – the completion of the destruction of militants’ Dzhebhat en-Nusra “and their ilk. Part of the militants of the terrorist organization is in the areas of de-escalation.
There’s a lot of different formations. Some maintain the cessation of hostilities. “Dzhebhat en-Nusra” categorically against. So, they will have to destroy.
– This is a large group?
– Different. More – in Idlib, less – in other zones. Differently. I think that after a certain time will be done with them. Especially in the areas of de-escalation supported the cessation of hostilities. To the humanitarian aid, to address social issues, domestic …
The second task – to translate a military solution to the political mainstream. In the track of political settlement. And it is solved. Now we are preparing for the Congress of the Syrian national dialogue …
– Our long-range bombers that flew on a combat operation in Syria, as they flew through space Iraq and Iran. Were there any problems when you requested airspace?
– We have a well-established cooperation with the military in these countries, and failure did not occur.
– Never before did not use the Russian army, in my opinion, such a large number of drones, both in Syria. How do you assess the importance of this type of technology, given the Syrian experience?
– Syria is now the daily average in the sky are about 60-70 drones. They are exploring, there are drones that perform tasks jamming and other issues solved.
We made a big step on the drones in five years. Previously, we were armed with only the old “Flight” Soviet type. It is now impossible to drone warfare. It is used by the gunners, scouts, pilots – all. With the help of drones are reconnaissance and strike, reconnaissance and firing circuits.
– What proved to be Syria Special Operations Forces?
– Special Operations Forces actually passed its formation, showed his best side. Doing guided aircraft for the purposes liquidation of warlords, a number of other tasks. We are very pleased with the experience that they have received.
– All of our military, who went to Syria, will be recognized or have already been recognized combatants?
– Yes, there is a supplement to the “On Veterans’ Act, it is accepted, they are combat veterans.
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– In some media there are “opinion” that the Russian army had nothing to do in Syria. How would you respond to that?
– If we had not intervened in Syria, what would happen? Look, in 2015 was slightly more than 10 percent of the territory controlled by the government. A month or two, and by the end of 2015, Syria would be completely under the LIH. Iraq – for the most part, too. LIH would further gain momentum spread to neighboring countries. Several thousand of our “fellow” to go to war. We would have had to face this force is already in its territory. They would have acted in the Caucasus, in Central Asia, in the Volga region.
Would have problems with a much higher degree. We broke the backbone of the LIH in Syria. In fact, our armed forces to crush the enemy on the distant approaches to the borders of our state.
– What is the chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces could wish for war, to their families in connection with the upcoming, 2018 year?
– Who wants the world most? Military. So I want to wish all the soldiers and their families peaceful sky, good health and further success in your service.
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