On 7 Feb an incident in Syria became the first case made public of U.S. military engaging Russians soldiers fighting for President Bashar al-Assad. The Russian soldiers were part of a Private Military Group or PMV, illegal under Russian law, called the Wagner Group. Wagner Group employs former Russian Special Forces soldiers as mercenaries, like the US company Blackwater has. Who is Wagner Group and why are they involved in Syria?
In the Diplomatic area,
For centuries, mercenaries have fought alongside government forces. These mercenaries have performed tasks giving governments plausible deniability. In areas where no laws exist, mercenaries can enhance combat operations. Employing Wagner Group in Syria gives Putin deniability of any diplomatic wrongdoing. Remember, in Russia, it’s not how much money you have but who you are connected to in the government.
In the Military arena,
The Pro-Assad forces did not fare well. They attacked at night in the the open desert… and we own the night. The entire weight of US airpower came to bear on the invading forces. The Department of Defense released video of the engagement from AC-130 Gunships, MQ-9 Reaper UAVs, and F-15E Strike Eagles.
The Economics of mercenaries is very interesting,
Mercenaries fight for two reason: money and fame. Wagner Group mercenaries are not getting paid enough to fight American forces and particularly US airpower. But $4432 is a lot of money in Russia. By comparison, US military pensions for field grade officers is higher.
The Wagner Group, like their former US Blackwater counterparts now called Academi, have become the new mercenaries on the battlefield. Remember the name Wagner Group because their soldiers will be seen in other parts of the world.
— Final note, please let me know your feedback and suggestions on Twitter, your thought on this weeks DIME, and what do you want more or less of? Let me know by sending a tweet to @MarkHasara and put #nationsdime in the header.
Have a great weekend!
P.S. — If you’re reading my book Tanker Pilot: Lessons from the Cockpit, I’d really love to hear your thoughts in a review on Amazon here or Barnes and Noble here. I read them all.