Hypothetical Chinese military intervetion in Syria


mr.bean

Junior Member
My knowledge of PLA assets is limited, so I will keep my post mainly restricted to the strategy and level of involvement.

Given the current state of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) I don't believe that we can rule out a ground engagement by the PLA. The SAA are exhausted, deficient in materiel and manpower, with the Iraqi army being well.......no words can really describe their current state imho. Being a large country with a great deal of desert, fortresses would be a poor choice except to defend an extremely high value city/port perhaps. Desert warfare has always been about mobile units and defensive webs. Even if it was restricted to air/naval alone, the bases within the area would almost certainly be subjected to suicide/sabotage operations and the garrison units would be engaged in ground warfare anyway. The ground forces must avoid the mistakes made by some US forces in Afghanistan, where units sheltered in fortress like compounds and did not engage with the locals. That is not to say that the PLA will not need fortress like bases, but their implementation should be different.

I would propose an expeditionary army of sorts, armed to the teeth with the best of the arsenal, and sent to eliminate the major strongholds within the area. To start off small, and not strain PLAAF logistics, I would suggest no more than 10,000 in the first month to establish an operational area to work within, and clear out the worst of the insurgency. They should be heavily supported by WZ-10 gunships and with a mission mandate to establish a safe zone of perhaps 90-100 miles radius from say....the port city of Latakia (The Russians already have an airbase there) . Alternatively, a new airbase can be constructed if necessary.

At the risk of going off topic....the PLA forces in the region must assume that there is a significant chance that Daesh forces will 'somehow' become armed with advanced anti-air and anti-armour weapon systems, and plan accordingly. I will not go into the reasons for this here. Something will have to the done about the foreign funding, but that is outside the scope of my post and this topic imo.

Once a forward safe zone has been established AND maintained, additional troops can be sent in as necessary. I'm aware that this sounds rather textbook-like, but it is a logical approach to the problem. Implementing it, will be as always, key to success. :rolleyes:


This may sound controversial but imo an emphasis should be made on not necessarily eliminating enemy personnel, but reducing collateral damage and eliminating enemy equipment. Daesh have plenty of manpower, but even with ALL their stolen equipment, which must now reach mind boggling value, cannot replace their equipment losses forever. They have minimal arms industries, and certainly nothing near to the quality that would be needed to produce war vehicles in large quantities.

However, an example should be made of Daesh military forces at some point. One cannot afford to be seen as weak when dealing with such ruthless and fanatical individuals, but also must be seen as friendly when dealing with reasonable people. The complete annihilation of the largest stronghold, after ensuring as many civilians escape as possible should suffice. When I say annihilation, I mean pancaking ala Vietnam War McNamara level carpet bombing, thermobaric charges, and SRBMs to ensure that the message is heard loud and clear that the world will no longer tolerate the existence of such radicals. Immediately afterwards, and for a long period this should be followed by a mix of hard/sort of soft counter-propaganda to ensure that the local people are well aware of /all/ the crimes that Daesh have been doing these past couple of years AND why a major intervention was necessary. This war will never be won without the 'hearts and minds' as it were, of the local people, as some people on this forum have highlighted previously. Perhaps some lessons can be learned from COIN operations in Afghanistan & no doubt the Russians can educate regarding the worst mistakes to avoid with the local people, and culturally speaking; since they have been dealing with the Syrians/Iraqis for decades. And of course, the city should be rebuilt after a time has passed and hopefully Daesh is consigned to the dustbin of history.
My knowledge of PLA assets is limited, so I will keep my post mainly restricted to the strategy and level of involvement.

Given the current state of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) I don't believe that we can rule out a ground engagement by the PLA. The SAA are exhausted, deficient in materiel and manpower, with the Iraqi army being well.......no words can really describe their current state imho. Being a large country with a great deal of desert, fortresses would be a poor choice except to defend an extremely high value city/port perhaps. Desert warfare has always been about mobile units and defensive webs. Even if it was restricted to air/naval alone, the bases within the area would almost certainly be subjected to suicide/sabotage operations and the garrison units would be engaged in ground warfare anyway. The ground forces must avoid the mistakes made by some US forces in Afghanistan, where units sheltered in fortress like compounds and did not engage with the locals. That is not to say that the PLA will not need fortress like bases, but their implementation should be different.

I would propose an expeditionary army of sorts, armed to the teeth with the best of the arsenal, and sent to eliminate the major strongholds within the area. To start off small, and not strain PLAAF logistics, I would suggest no more than 10,000 in the first month to establish an operational area to work within, and clear out the worst of the insurgency. They should be heavily supported by WZ-10 gunships and with a mission mandate to establish a safe zone of perhaps 90-100 miles radius from say....the port city of Latakia (The Russians already have an airbase there) . Alternatively, a new airbase can be constructed if necessary.

At the risk of going off topic....the PLA forces in the region must assume that there is a significant chance that Daesh forces will 'somehow' become armed with advanced anti-air and anti-armour weapon systems, and plan accordingly. I will not go into the reasons for this here. Something will have to the done about the foreign funding, but that is outside the scope of my post and this topic imo.

Once a forward safe zone has been established AND maintained, additional troops can be sent in as necessary. I'm aware that this sounds rather textbook-like, but it is a logical approach to the problem. Implementing it, will be as always, key to success. :rolleyes:


This may sound controversial but imo an emphasis should be made on not necessarily eliminating enemy personnel, but reducing collateral damage and eliminating enemy equipment. Daesh have plenty of manpower, but even with ALL their stolen equipment, which must now reach mind boggling value, cannot replace their equipment losses forever. They have minimal arms industries, and certainly nothing near to the quality that would be needed to produce war vehicles in large quantities.

However, an example should be made of Daesh military forces at some point. One cannot afford to be seen as weak when dealing with such ruthless and fanatical individuals, but also must be seen as friendly when dealing with reasonable people. The complete annihilation of the largest stronghold, after ensuring as many civilians escape as possible should suffice. When I say annihilation, I mean pancaking ala Vietnam War McNamara level carpet bombing, thermobaric charges, and SRBMs to ensure that the message is heard loud and clear that the world will no longer tolerate the existence of such radicals. Immediately afterwards, and for a long period this should be followed by a mix of hard/sort of soft counter-propaganda to ensure that the local people are well aware of /all/ the crimes that Daesh have been doing these past couple of years AND why a major intervention was necessary. This war will never be won without the 'hearts and minds' as it were, of the local people, as some people on this forum have highlighted previously. Perhaps some lessons can be learned from COIN operations in Afghanistan & no doubt the Russians can educate regarding the worst mistakes to avoid with the local people, and culturally speaking; since they have been dealing with the Syrians/Iraqis for decades. And of course, the city should be rebuilt after a time has passed and hopefully Daesh is consigned to the dustbin of history.
that's a really good post i read it carefully to give it some thought. i'm no military expert so many of you guys can better comment on this topic but i don't really think china is capable of doing what you suggested in your post. to put 5000 or 10000 troops in foreign soil, in a hot zone so far away is beyond the capability of china. china's military is a defensive one, and they do an excellant job in defending china but once they leave china and go abroad that is different matter. They are different than the western militaries and Russia who have been fighting outside their own countries for as long as we can remember.
 

solarz

Brigadier
that's a really good post i read it carefully to give it some thought. i'm no military expert so many of you guys can better comment on this topic but i don't really think china is capable of doing what you suggested in your post. to put 5000 or 10000 troops in foreign soil, in a hot zone so far away is beyond the capability of china. china's military is a defensive one, and they do an excellant job in defending china but once they leave china and go abroad that is different matter. They are different than the western militaries and Russia who have been fighting outside their own countries for as long as we can remember.
Which is why I believe that China's role will be mainly in logistics and maybe construction.
 
Given all of this thread's assumptions I think China will deploy much of its 8000 strong UN military contingent to help protect and rebuild specific areas already under the control of, or recaptured by, Syrian government forces.

The ground contingent will consist of mechanized infantry with organic reconnaissance (read UAV), AT, AA, and rotary aircraft (Z-10, Z-19, and Z-8) components protecting medical and engineering troops to provide/restore as much basic infrastructure as quickly as possible in designated safe zones. They may well build versions of the walled-off US Green Zone in Baghdad to defend against suicide bombers and service Syrian civilians. These forces would have arrived in theater by air and sea.

Naval contingent which will remain in theater will include two Type 071, with a foursome of frigate/destroyer escorts, a pair of supply ships, and possibly a hospital ship. A small number of Z-10, Z19, and Z-8 associated with the naval contingent will provide frequent escorted shuttling services and occasional defensive ground support.

I still doubt that China will contribute to offensive operations against IS, rather leaving that to others. I also doubt that China will do much in terms of electronic intelligence beyond sharing information derived from satellites and short range UAVs.
 

Equation

Lieutenant General
that's a really good post i read it carefully to give it some thought. i'm no military expert so many of you guys can better comment on this topic but i don't really think china is capable of doing what you suggested in your post. to put 5000 or 10000 troops in foreign soil, in a hot zone so far away is beyond the capability of china. china's military is a defensive one, and they do an excellant job in defending china but once they leave china and go abroad that is different matter. They are different than the western militaries and Russia who have been fighting outside their own countries for as long as we can remember.
Who else have successfully used their military outside their homeland lately? World policing seems to be a losing cause all the time.
 

shen

Senior Member
Given all of this thread's assumptions I think China will deploy much of its 8000 strong UN military contingent to help protect and rebuild specific areas already under the control of, or recaptured by, Syrian government forces.

The ground contingent will consist of mechanized infantry with organic reconnaissance (read UAV), AT, AA, and rotary aircraft (Z-10, Z-19, and Z-8) components protecting medical and engineering troops to provide/restore as much basic infrastructure as quickly as possible in designated safe zones. They may well build versions of the walled-off US Green Zone in Baghdad to defend against suicide bombers and service Syrian civilians. These forces would have arrived in theater by air and sea.

Naval contingent which will remain in theater will include two Type 071, with a foursome of frigate/destroyer escorts, a pair of supply ships, and possibly a hospital ship. A small number of Z-10, Z19, and Z-8 associated with the naval contingent will provide frequent escorted shuttling services and occasional defensive ground support.

I still doubt that China will contribute to offensive operations against IS, rather leaving that to others. I also doubt that China will do much in terms of electronic intelligence beyond sharing information derived from satellites and short range UAVs.
Not without an UN mandate and that requires an agreement by all the major powers. The chance of that happening is slim, but it will be truly awe inspiring if all the major powers can work out a deal to solve the Syrian tragedy together. Not just for humanitarian reasons, a festering Syria breeding terrorists is a threat to every countries in the world! Not since the defeat of fascism during WWII have the world been confronted by a danger that truly affects everyone, the major powers has every reason to work together in this case.
 
Last edited:

SampanViking

The Capitalist
Super Moderator
VIP Professional
The Chinese interest will surely be primarily aimed at extremists originating from China.

Not impossible to see Chinese intelligence on the ground backed up at the very least by Drone Attack Aircraft.

If it went any further would they need a UN mandate? Not so sure on that one, if they are invited by the legitimate government of the Sovereign State. An SCO mission invited by Syria would be sufficient in this instance.

An SCO Peace Keeping mission could be realistic as well. It would be useful to have such forces along sensitive border areas such as Turkey and Israel etc.
 

plawolf

Brigadier
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #17
There have been some excellent discussion points made by many, I have been quite busy lately and just didn't have a chance to make the sort of replies such posts deserves. Hopefully I will find some time to do so soon.

The Chinese interest will surely be primarily aimed at extremists originating from China.

Not impossible to see Chinese intelligence on the ground backed up at the very least by Drone Attack Aircraft.

If it went any further would they need a UN mandate? Not so sure on that one, if they are invited by the legitimate government of the Sovereign State. An SCO mission invited by Syria would be sufficient in this instance.

An SCO Peace Keeping mission could be realistic as well. It would be useful to have such forces along sensitive border areas such as Turkey and Israel etc.
As per China's principles (its non-interference principle specifically), national sovereignty is absolute so long as no international laws or treaties are broken in the exercising of that sovereignty.

Short of being directly attacked or threatened with imminent attack, China would only consider doing something against the wishes of a nation's government on their soil if that action is explicitly authorised by an UN mandate (in the case of attack or imminent attack, UN rules are pretty cut and dried so China would be following the rules even in those extreme examples).

Conversely, so long as no international laws or treaties are broken, and there isn't an UN mandate specifically prohibiting something, China would see long problems in granting requests by sovereign governments inviting China to come and do something on their soil. That is not interference in China's book.

However, I can see China potentially drawing a line as far as fighting genuine domestic Syrian rebels, but since there are only like 4 of them left fighting in Syria these days, I don't think that is going to be a massive issue practically.

As far as ISIS is concerned, fighting them would be the same as helping a country fight off foreign invasion.

If China really wanted more diplomatic and legal cover, it could easily grant Syria's SCO membership request, and then deploy its troops under the SCO flag under the organisation's counter terrorism clauses.

Remember when western "experts" openly mocked and made fun of that clause and SCO exercises involving tanks, jets and thousands of troops asking when you would need such assets and numbers to combat terrorists?

The conflict in Syria is almost a textbook example of the kind of strife and internal unrest the SCO's military mandate was written to defend against.

You really have to admire the planners and writers who got that pretty much spot on. Its almost like they saw this coming.
 

Lezt

Junior Member
Desert warfare has always been about mobile units and defensive webs. Even if it was restricted to air/naval alone, the bases within the area would almost certainly be subjected to suicide/sabotage operations and the garrison units would be engaged in ground warfare anyway. The ground forces must avoid the mistakes made by some US forces in Afghanistan, where units sheltered in fortress like compounds and did not engage with the locals. That is not to say that the PLA will not need fortress like bases, but their implementation should be different.
This is where I would disagree with you, desert warfare had always been about waterholes and mobility around them. i.e. fortresses around waterholes. The last 100 years saw something different and that is mobile armor cores in desert environment; but that most certainly does not invalidate thousands of years of experience. The Gobi was fortified and so was the Sahara and many parts of the middle east.

ISIS is not a mobile force, it is not an armor core, there are no strongholds to take and there is no army to smash. they are a guerrilla force and their greatest asset and Achilles heels is the freedom of movement.

Sending conventional forces against them is not cost effective; nor is sending F16s to bomb them.

Automated fortresses are cheap and replaceable, and a network of ~8000 of them will effectively cease all unauthorized movement. it might cost 200K-300K USD to make and deploy one, or around 2.4B USD to deploy, say, for the cost of 24 F35, isnt it a good deal?

Daesh will require heavy weapons to destroy the fortresses, say 105mm recoiless cannons or 200 mm rockets. So the question becomes, how easy it is to detect some men carrying a recoilless rifle on foot, or how fast/long can they run with the a 50 kg rocket? and even if they manage to hit one fort and so it be destroyed, can they survive the barrage of fire from the neighboring forts and the marauding UAV?
 

nemo

Junior Member
Automated fortresses are cheap and replaceable, and a network of ~8000 of them will effectively cease all unauthorized movement. it might cost 200K-300K USD to make and deploy one, or around 2.4B USD to deploy, say, for the cost of 24 F35, isnt it a good deal?
How about the civilians? Civilians have a legitimate need to move, not in the least is food and water. They are not going to starve or die of thirst just so you can have your cheap, clean, technical solution.
 

no_name

Major
Automated fortresses are cheap and replaceable, and a network of ~8000 of them will effectively cease all unauthorized movement. it might cost 200K-300K USD to make and deploy one, or around 2.4B USD to deploy, say, for the cost of 24 F35, isnt it a good deal?
You'll have to keep them supplied. Think about the cost of deploying 8000 tanks to a country, now we're talking about 8000 bases.

I think, just set up long range MLRS (100 Km and above). stations around the country, defended by mobile armoured units. Each station can cover a wide area and each other, and can be redeployed if necessary. Layer each station with gun battery for closer and less expensive option, and AFV just in case. Have UAV surveillance for detecting approaching enemies and smart GPS guided munitions for the MLRS. Get more powerful mobile units to herd them into designated kill zones.
 

Top