Posted tagged ‘Middle East War’

Hamas commander assassinated in Gaza

March 25, 2017

According to a statement from Hamas’ military wing, the terror organization is holding Israel responsible for the attack which claimed the life of one of its commanders; Mazan Fukha was released by Israel in 2011 as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal.

Elior Levy|Last update:  25.03.17 , 14:00

Source: Ynetnews News – Hamas commander assassinated in Gaza

Unknown assailants gunned down Hamas operative Mazan Fukha Friday night outside his home in Tel al-Hawa, in the Gaza Strip.According to Hamas’ military wing, Fukha, who was released in a prisoner exchange deal for captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, was shot in the head  four times with a silenced weapon by unknown attackers who fled the scene.

Mazan Fukha after his release from Israeli prison

Mazan Fukha after his release from Israeli prison

Fukha, who was deported to Gaza as part of the Shalit deal, was responsible for planning terror attacks in the West Bank.

In a statement, Hamas’ military wing blamed Israel for Fukha’s death and described him as a commander in the organization.

Husam Badran, Hamas’ international spokesman, issued a statement on Twitter, saying, “The occupation is responsible for this assassination. Netanyahu knows this will not pass quietly.”

Hamas gunmen during the funeral procession (Photo: Reuters) (Photo: Reuters)

Hamas gunmen during the funeral procession (Photo: Reuters)

Ismail Haniyeh following news of the assassination (Photo: AFP) (Photo: AFP)

Ismail Haniyeh following news of the assassination (Photo: AFP)

Ismail Haniyeh, Yahya Sinwar and Khalil al-Khayeh accompanied Fukha’s body at Shifa Hospital in the Gaza Strip and later during his funeral procession in Gaza on Saturday, attended by thousands of mourners.

Fukha, originally from Tubas, was sentenced to nine life sentences in 2003 by Israel for his role in the planning and execution of a suicide bombing on a bus near Safed, which killed nine people.

Fukha's funeral procession in Gaza on Saturday (Photo: Reuters) (Photo: Reuters)

Fukha’s funeral procession in Gaza on Saturday (Photo: Reuters)

Mourners in Tubas

Mourners in Tubas

Fukha’s father, who still lives in Tubas in the northern West Bank, also accused Israel of the assassination, saying, “Israeli intelligence officers came to our house many times and gave us messages that Mazen would be liquidated if he continued with his actions.”

Fukha was released from prison in 2011 as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal and was deported to the Gaza Strip.

After his release, Fukha returned to terrorist activities and helped found Hamas’ West Bank headquarters and manage it from Gaza under the command of Saleh al-Arouri. In addition to Fukha, the operation also included Abd al-Rahman Ghanimat, another terrorist who had been released as part of the Shalit deal.

 Together, the three men helped organize and conduct terror attacks against Israelis from the Gaza Strip.

(Translated and edited by Fred Goldberg)

First published: 25.03.17, 09:56

Lieberman: If Syria targets our aircraft again, we’ll destroy its air defens…

March 19, 2017

Defense minister warns Assad regime after it unsuccessfully tried to shoot down IAF fighter jets on Friday night by firing an S-200 missile at it; ‘We have no interest in interfering in the Syrian civil war or clashing with the Russians, but we won’t hesitate to defend Israel’s security,’ Lieberman says.

Yoav Zitun|Published:  19.03.17 , 11:44

Source: Ynetnews News – Lieberman: If Syria targets our aircraft again, we’ll destroy its air defens…


Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman threatened Sunday to destroy Syria’s air defense apparatus if it targets Israeli fighter jets again after the Assad regime tried to shoot down Israeli Air Force (IAF) planes over the weekend.

“We have no interest in interfering in the Syrian civil war, not for nor against (President Bashar) Assad, and we have no interest in clashing with the Russians,” Lieberman clarified during a visit to the IDF induction center.

“Our main problem is with the transfer of advanced weapons from Syria to Lebanon. That is why every time we identify an attempt to smuggle game-changing weapons, we will act to thwart it. There will be no compromise on this issue,” the defense minister stressed.

Lieberman at the IDF induction center (Photo: Motti Kimchi)

Lieberman at the IDF induction center (Photo: Motti Kimchi)

He added that “if the IDF does choose to act, there is a real reason for it.”

Israeli Arrow anti-aircraft missiles were used to intercept a Syrian S-200 missile fired at IAF jets that returned to Israeli territory after attacking targets in Syria on Friday night.

“Next time, if the Syrian aerial defense apparatus acts against our planes, we will destroy it,” Lieberman said. “We won’t hesitate. Israel’s security is above everything else; there will be no compromise.”

Lieberman at the IDF induction center (Photo: Motti Kimchi)

Lieberman at the IDF induction center (Photo: Motti Kimchi)

Similarly, he said, the IDF will respond to any rocket fire coming from the Gaza Strip “with force.”

“We’ll cut down Hamas’s capabilities, we’re not willing to tolerate any provocation,” Lieberman said. “We won’t take money from the Israeli taxpayer to invest in electricity and water for the strip, while they are investing their money in tunnels.”

New recruits at the IDF induction center (Photo: Motti Kimchi)

New recruits at the IDF induction center (Photo: Motti Kimchi)

The defense minister also addressed his ongoing feud with Education Minister Naftali Bennett over disparaging remarks made by Rabbi Yigal Levinstein about women in the IDF. Lieberman called on the rabbi to resign and threatened to halt Defense Ministry recognition of the rabbi’s pre-army preparatory yeshiva, which angered Bennett.

“The IDF presents a variety of options—from Caracal (a co-ed battalion) to the Haredi Nahal (for ultra-Orthodox soldiers). Everyone has a place,” Lieberman determined. “This sweeping attack against women is unreasonable. We’ve tried to avoid friction with Levinstein. We’ve forgiven him twice before (for similar comments) and dragged our feet on this. A third time is too much.”

Lieberman added that Rabbi Levinstein will face a disciplinary hearing, in accordance with a legal opinion in the Defense Ministry.

(Translated and edited by Yaara Shalom)

Trump Administration Intel – White Hats Confer With Reform Agents Within Political Islam…

February 14, 2017

To understand the activity within any intelligence action any observer must do two things: #1 You must stay elevated. If you try to get into the weeds you will be lost because your insight will be …

Source: Trump Administration Intel – White Hats Confer With Reform Agents Within Political Islam… | The Last Refuge


To understand the activity within any intelligence action any observer must do two things:

  • #1 You must stay elevated. If you try to get into the weeds you will be lost because your insight will be lacking specificity briefs.
  • #2 You must always reflect upon the recent historic context of the engagement you are observing. Including, most importantly, the engagements of the parties therein.

The recent example of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Mike Pompeo traveling to Saudi Arabia last weekend, at the request of President Donald Trump, to personally present Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef with an award named after former CIA director George Tenet, is an example of the need for this approach.


If you want to understand what’s going on, you must understand the recent relationship of the parties.  It begins with understanding modern political Islam.

Within “political Islam” there are various factions. However, again with the intent to remain elevated, let us just approach two larger congregations as: “Authentic supporters” and “Reform Agents”.

sisi and abdullah iitrump-el-sisi

The modern extremist elements fall under the category of “Authentic Supporters” or Salafists (politically, The Muslim Brotherhood).   The “Reform Agents” are represented by people like Egypt’s Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah III.

Within “Political Islam” these two elements (Authentic -vs- Reform) are fighting for the heart, soul, intellect and -in larger measures- the future of Islam in a modern world.

All the various Muslim factions fall along a continuum of authenticity to the principles of Islam. The more authentic the expression, the more violent and confrontational the group. The more moderate the expression, the reformers, the less violent… etc.

Over the course of the past decade each political side has surged and/or retreated during the larger struggle for the heart of those who adhere to the Muslim faith. The so-called “Arab Spring” was a surge of the Authentic group, and was empowered/emboldened by the foreign policy activity of exterior nations. In particular, the ideological sympathy of former President Barack Obama.

In the face of the growth of the various Authentic expressions, the Reform elements were in a retreating position attempting to contain the internal damage being carried out by the extremist groups. Reformers and more moderate voices were simply trying to hold on to the construct of a civil society amid the growing crisis created by emotional demands of extremists requiring adherence to Sharia, the authentic political law of Islam.

On January 19th 2015, three days before Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz died from a lung infection, Egypt’s President Fattah al-Sisi was urgently summoned to met with him.

It was only a few weeks earlier (New Years Day 2015) when al-Sisi delivered an impassioned speech to a scholarly audience in Al-Azhar University in Cairo comprised of Islam’s most important religious leaders.

As the most notable and visible reformer (<- important link) President Fattah al-Sisi made the case for “a religious revolution in Islam that would displace violent jihad from the center of Muslim discourse“:

“The corpus of texts and ideas that we have made sacred over the years, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible, is antagonizing the entire world. You cannot feel it if you remain trapped within this mindset. You must step outside yourselves and reflect on it from a more enlightened perspective.” –LINK

el-sisi in SaudiPresident al-Sisi’s visit to Saudi Arabia to visit with King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz was a meeting specifically requested by an aging 90-year-old Saudi King to recognize Sisi for his courage and leadership.

King Abdulaziz was intent on honoring his friend.

Saudi Arabia had been coping with the same internal conflict as all other Muslim nations who were caught between the internal struggle.

President Sisi left Saudi Arabia with the full support of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, and upon his death a few days later the new Saudi King Salman; who  honored Sisi in a similar fashion as did his brother.

With the support of Saudi Arabia, the demands of al-Sisi to remove the extremism of the Muslim Brotherhood gained traction. The Gulf States finally, and collectively, pressured Qatar to stop aiding/financing extremism.

Under pressure Qatar conceded and expelled The Brotherhood along with the five leading voices of leadership within the Muslim Brotherhood. Recep Erdogan gave them refuge in Turkey.

This was the origin of the turning tide, when the Reform Agents began to stabilize and reassert their politics and internal domestic economies – the underlying wedge issue used by The Brotherhood to stir turmoil.

Unstable Yemen is to Saudi Arabia -> as unstable Libya is to Egypt -> as unstable Syria is to Jordan… and so it goes.

Each unstable nation being stirred by the extremist voices of various agents operating under the umbrella of the destabilizing politics expressed by The Muslim Brotherhood.

Remove the destabilizing agents and the Reformers believe they will be able to stop the extremists. This is the longer-term objective of those within the fight inside political Islam.

Now look again at the nations of Trump’s visa restrictions and you’ll note the presence of the destabilizing agents: Libya, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Iran [and Sudan, Somalia].

This is the necessary backdrop to understand events as they unfold and relate to President Donald Trump and his own foreign policy objectives and engagements.

It is not accidental that newly appointed CIA Director Mike Pompeo traveled to meet with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Muhammad bin Nayef, after a phone call between Saudi King Salman and President Trump took place.


Director Pompeo’s visit was to recognize the efforts of Saudi Arabia in the larger fight against Islamic extremism/terrorism.  However, based on internal consumption, Pompeo could not be seen publicly in this regard with King Salman himself.  The visible face of Saudi Reform is the crown prince.

  • Jan 20th – President Trump takes office.
  • Jan 26th – President Trump has a phone call with King Salman
  • Jan 26th – On the same day, State Dept. Nominee Rex Tillerson visits State Dept. HQ and the media report on the resignation of many existing State Department personnel.
  • Feb 1st – Secretary Rex Tillerson is confirmed by the Senate.
  • Feb 2nd – The three Muslim Awan brothers are terminated amid accusations they accessed congressional intelligence committee computers without permission.
  • Feb 8th – FOX reports administration considering labeling The Muslim Brotherhood as an official terrorist organization.
  • Feb 11th – CIA Director Pompeo travels to Saudi Arabia to deliver thanks.

By all appearances it seems the Trump administration was given a head’s up of sorts as to specific [Muslim Brotherhood] agents within the U.S. State Department. And also with key Democrat staffers, in highly sensitive intelligence positions, amid Congress.


To wit, Egyptian media announce that Fattah el-Sisi will be traveling to Washington DC to meet with President Trump:

[…]  Informed sources said that the presidency is currently coordinating with the US to arrange a visit next month. The sources referred to the visit as the first official one for an Egyptian president to Washington since 2009, as the last visit since then was paid by former President Hosni Mubarak.

Meanwhile, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu will leave Washington next Monday going back to Tel Aviv. Israeli TV reported on Sunday that Netanyahu is planning to form the ‘Israeli-Saudi-Egyptian’ axis.  (read more)

It is ironic, but not coincidental, that no official Egyptian delegation has visited the United States since President Obama traveled to Cairo and started “The Islamist Spring” which led to the uprising of the Muslim Brotherhood extremism in Egypt.


Irony, because now the Trump administration is facing the internal extremist purging of the Muslim Brotherhood embeds remaining within the U.S. government leftover from President Obama’s aftermath…. and now, President Fattah el-Sisi, the destroyer of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt comes to officially visit President Trump in Washington.

I hope everyone can clearly see what’s going on in the bigger picture.

After eight years of Obama’s intense political embedding of extremist sympathy in every aspect of governance, and culture – President Trump is now tasked with removing it, all of it; and finding allies amid those who have already mounted the same effort.


It is also important to remember the political enterprise of The Muslim Brotherhood not only employs congressional staffers, but also has key connections to elected officials within both parties.   Representative Adam Kinzinger and John McCain are two of the more obvious sympathizers on the right side of the UniParty.

Again, reference the seven states of turmoil/concern and you’ll notice a pattern:

Senator John McCain and Senator John Kerry in Cairo, Egypt – 2011

John McCain and John Kerry in Cairo on Sunday - Egypt Stock Exchange

What came next?…  The installation of the Muslim Brotherhood:

Morsi Kerry

Senator John McCain and Ambassador Christopher Stephens, Benghazi Libya 2012

Western Media / Libyan Propaganda (Disturbing Video Refutes State Dept)

What came next?…. The rise of the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood

Western Media / Libyan Propaganda (Disturbing Video Refutes State Dept)

Senator John McCain travels to Syria in 2013

John McCain ISIS

What came next?  Yup, you guessed it – Muslim Brotherhood (via ISIS)

Isis soldiers in Syria


December 24, 2016

Published on Oct 15, 2015

By Pierre Rehov.

According to most Palestinians, “Israeli Occupation” means Tel Aviv, Ber Sheva and Haifa, and for their leaders, Palestine should be built “From the River to the Sea”. Meaning, should replace Israel, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

In this disturbing film, “From the River to the Sea”, a revised version of “Hostages of Hatred” acclaimed director Pierre Rehov sets out to tell us the real story of those men, women and children, who have been shamefully used as mere pawns for over 50 years, by Arab leaders at first, by Palestinian leaders later on and until this very day but also by the United Nations’ body that was specially created to supposedly take care of them: the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, UNWRA.

Hezbollah using US weaponry in Syria: senior Israeli military officer

December 22, 2016

Hezbollah is using US weaponry in Syria, according to a senior Israeli military officer


(By Ori Lewis; editing by Jeffrey Heller)

Source: Hezbollah using US weaponry in Syria: senior Israeli military officer – Business Insider

TEL AVIV (Reuters) – Israel has informed the United States that Lebanese Hezbollah fighters in Syria are using U.S. armored personnel carriers originally supplied to the Lebanese Army, a senior Israeli military officer said on Wednesday.

The U.S. State Department said last month that the American embassy in Beirut was working to investigate images on social media purporting to show Hezbollah, which supports President Bashar al-Assad, displaying U.S. military equipment in Syria.

Those images were widely reported to have been of U.S.-made M113 armored personnel carriers, which the State Department said were extremely common in the region.

In an intelligence briefing to foreign reporters in Tel Aviv, the senior officer showed a photograph of military vehicles, which he said included U.S.-made armored personnel carriers (APCs), along a road.

“These APCs are of the Hezbollah, while fighting in Syria, that they took from the Lebanese armed forces,” he said in English, describing the guerrilla group as dominant in Lebanon.

shia militia M113 APC

An M113 armored personnel carrier in the possession of Iraqi Shia militias.

“We shared this information with other countries, including the U.S. of course, and I can even say that we recognized these specific APCs with some specific parameters that we know … these were given to the Lebanese armed forces. It’s not an assumption,” said the officer, who under the rules of the briefing could not be identified by name, rank or position.

Western diplomatic sources have said the APCs were delivered to the Lebanese Army by the United States as part of a program to equip that force.

The officer made no comment about when the APCs would have been supplied to the Lebanese Army.

The officer said Hezbollah has 8,000 fighters in Syria where more than 1,700 of the group’s combatants have been killed since 2011.

Israel and Hezbollah, which the officer said has 30,000 members, half of them combatants, last fought a war in 2006.


Declaration Of War? Erdogan Says Turkish Forces Are In Syria To End Assad’s Rule

November 30, 2016

Declaration Of War? Erdogan Says Turkish Forces Are In Syria To End Assad’s Rule

Source: Declaration Of War? Erdogan Says Turkish Forces Are In Syria To End Assad’s Rule | Zero Hedge

Having stated in the past that the only reason Turkish forces are on Syrian soil is to combat Islamic State terrorists, today Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a dramatic diplomatic reversal and said that the Turkish Army has entered Syria to end the rule of President Bashar Assad, whom he accused of terrorism and causing the deaths of thousands.

“We entered [Syria] to end the rule of the tyrant al-Assad who terrorizes with state terror. [We didn’t enter] for any other reason,” the Turkish president was quoted by Huyrriyet as saying at the first Inter-Parliamentary Jerusalem Platform Symposium in Istanbul. Erdogan said that Turkey has no territorial claims in Syria, but instead wants to hand over power to the Syrian population, adding that Ankara is seeking to restore “justice.”

“Why did we enter? We do not have an eye on Syrian soil. The issue is to provide lands to their real owners. That is to say we are there for the establishment of justice,” he said, taking a page out of the US playbook, which however in recent weeks has been muted following substantial advances by Syrian and Russian forces which as reported last night, have made material gains in the fight against Syrian rebels in east Aleppo.

Turkish Army tanks driving to the Syrian Turkish border town of Jarabulus

Erdogan went on to say that “in his estimation” almost 1 million people have died in the conflict in Syria, although no monitoring group has provided any similar figures according to RT.

The Turkish moral arbiter of all that is right also said that Turkey could not “endure” the unending killing of civilians and “had to enter Syria together with the Free Syrian Army.

The Turkish leader also accused the UN of inability to influence the situation in Syria and said that the organization is ineffective in its current state. “The world is bigger than five,” he said, referring to the number of permanent members on the UN Security Council, as reported by Hurriyet.

As readers will recall, Turkish troops entered Syria on August 24, launching operation Euphrates Shield. Turkey deployed ground troops and air power to northern parts of its neighboring country, with what then was a stated goal of retaking areas held by Islamic State. However, many observers have said that Ankara aims to suppress Kurdish forces in Syria and prevent them from connecting three de facto autonomous Kurdish areas into one enclave south of the Turkish border.

In October, Turkey’s air forces killed between 160 and 200 fighters of the Kurdish YPG militia group in 26 airstrikes conducted in just one night. The Turkish military campaign in Syria has also led to increasingly strained relations with Assad’s government.

Ankara was forced to halt air support for its ground incursion into Syria on October 22, after Damascus vowed to shoot down Turkish Air Force planes in Syrian skies, accusing Turkey of violating its national sovereignty. Turkey in turn accused the Syrian Army of attacking FSA fighters in the northern Aleppo province.

The announcement is hardly a surprise, coming just one day after what we reported, is set to be Assad’s biggest victory since the start of the Syrian war with the imminent capture of rebel-stronghold Aleppo, and whose eastern part had been some 40% “freed” from militants by Syrian government forces, according to the Russian Defence Ministry.

In light of today’s latest statement, which according to some is tantamount to a declaration of war by Turkey against a sovereign state, it is unclear what the Syrian response will be to the NATO member. It is also unclear how Russia – which is alligned with the Assad regime – will respond in light of recent overtures by both Erdogan and Putin to bring relations between the two nations closer.

Ex-NATO Commander Calls for Non-Cyber Response to Russia

November 4, 2016

Ex-NATO Commander Calls for Non-Cyber Response to Russia’s Election Hacks Breedlove: ‘Null’ response from Obama admin will reward Russia for bad behavior.


November 3, 2016 4:26 pm

Source: Ex-NATO Commander Calls for Non-Cyber Response to Russia

Philip Breedlove / AP

NATO’s former top commander recommended the U.S. government respond to Russia’s attempts to influence the presidential election through non-cyber means, emphasizing that a “null” answer would merely reward Moscow’s bad behavior.

Gen. Philip Breedlove, former NATO supreme allied commander for Europe and head of the U.S. European Command, said that the United States should considering using a combination of its diplomatic, information, military, and economic tools to punish Russia for directing hacks into U.S. political institutions.

“I don’t believe that a null set is the answer. I believe that we cannot reward bad behavior with no answer,” Breedlove told an audience at the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based international relations think tank, on Thursday when asked to recommend an appropriate U.S. response to the election-related cyber attacks.

“I also believe—and this is discussed quite openly—we rely so much more on cyber than some of our competitors in the world that if we were to start a big fight in cyber, we stand to lose so much more,” Breedlove said. “I don’t think that necessarily is the answer. Again, what I think is that our nation has a broad series of tools—diplomatic, information, military, economic. That’s a crude approximation, but there’s a lot of tools to use and I think that we need to do that creatively, judiciously.”

The retired four-star Air Force general echoed warnings previously sounded by cyber security experts about the vulnerabilities of the United States in starting a “tit-for-tat” cyber conflict with Russia.

Last month, the U.S. intelligence community formally blamed the Russian government for directing cyber attacks on U.S. individuals and organizations, including the Democratic National Committee, in order to influence the presidential election, an accusation that Moscow has denied. The White House has promised to deliver a “proportional” response to Russia for orchestrating the hacks.

Breedlove’s own private emails were released by DC Leaks, a website that has been linked to Russian hackers, earlier this year. The DNC emails, as well as those from the personal email of Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, have been released by WikiLeaks, which has denied having connections to the Russian government.

Breedlove described Russia’s provocations in cyber space, including the attempted election interference, as an element of Moscow’s “hybrid” warfare or pursuits of conflict “below the threshold.” He criticized the United States for exhibiting “tolerance” for Moscow’s actions.

“What does our tolerance say? What does our action or inaction say as it relates to everything from cyber in an election to continually meddling in the borders in South Ossetia? Where are we setting the bar as it relates to this conflict below the lines or below the thresholds, and what, again, does inaction mean?” Breedlove asked.

The retired general recommended that the next U.S. administration consider using a more “balanced” combination of diplomatic, information, military, and economic tools to deal with Russian aggression, rather than the Obama administration’s current approach of using economic sanctions and pursuing diplomatic relations to turn a corner with Moscow.

Breedlove also said Russia has been emboldened in recent years and views its global influence more positively.

“What Russia wants first and foremost is to be seen as an equal and be treated as a world superpower in a multipolar context. And frankly, what is the view from Moscow right now? They are probably pretty happy,” Breedlove observed. “They see themselves at the center of most of the great power conflict that is going on. They see themselves even at the center of the discussion about the U.S. election. So, I would say that right now Russia feels better about themselves on the world’s stage than they did years before.”

Breedlove retired from his dual-hatted post in May after 39 years of military service. Since his departure, already tense relations between the United States and Moscow have worsened over developments in Syria and a breakdown in cooperation between the powers on nuclear energy. NATO’s decision to deploy four battalions to the Baltic States and Poland on its eastern flank over Russia’s continued intervention in Ukraine has also aggravated Moscow, which has begun deploying forces and military equipment westward.

Breedlove acknowledged the high tensions with Russia but spoke optimistically about the opportunity of the next administration to find a path toward productive dialogue and cooperation with Russia.

At the same time, he expressed concern over Moscow’s pursuit of “below the threshold” competition and its willingness to escalate conflict, as well as the reemergence of the nuclear issue. This week, a high-level Russian official indicated that Norway would become a nuclear target after giving the United States permission to station hundreds of Marines on its borders.

The former commander also highlighted the improvements in Russia’s military capabilities that have been exhibited over the course of Moscow’s interventions in Georgia, Ukraine, and Syria over the last eight years.

“In the western and central and southern military districts, Russia is able to amass force and capability very quickly,” Breedlove explained. “The Russian force is a learning and adaptive force. It did not do so well in the first incursion into Georgia. It got much better when it went into Crimea. It learned in Crimea and was even better when it went into Donbass, and then was even better at several of the things they needed to be good at when they went into Syria.”

“It’s not the 10-foot-tall Soviet Union, but clearly it is a capable force,” he added.