There are certain things that all Corps of Marines have in common regardless of nationality. Case in point would be one of the official functions of the American Marine Corps: “for service with the fleet in the seizure or defense of advanced naval bases…” With a flurry of reports coming out of the eastern Mediterranean hitting the news wires by the moment, it certainly appears that the Russian Marines have the same duties as their American counterparts.
While there has long been a small Russian naval facility in the Syrian port city of Tarus, as reported by CBS News national security correspondent David Martin, and also by Jamie Crawford, National Security Producer for CNN, both on Sept. 10, 2015, at least 100 of Mother Russia’s elite Naval Infantry (commonly known simply as Russian Marines: Морская пехота) are on the ground in the Syrian seaside town of Latakia. A mere 30 miles south from the border of our on-paper NATO ally of Turkey, and with numerous Islamic jihadist militias dominant to the immediate east, the Russian Marines are reportedly providing base security for at least four of Russia’s massive Condor transport jets that have been unloading advanced weapons systems.
With the 100 Marines possibly just the advanced party, Latakia’s Assad International Airport already has housing for upwards of 1,000 troops. Just in case there isn’t enough bunk space for a Naval Infantry Regiment, workmen are also building additional living quarters at the airstrip. Known by their nom de guerre of Black Death, Russian Marines were also spotted in Tarus where two Russian Navy amphibious assault ships have been unloading cargo to include combat vehicles.
With Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad a longtime Moscow ally, Russian specialists are in-country to train government loyalist troops the ins-and-outs of the latest weaponry. Assad’s regime has been fighting a 4 1/2-year combination civil war/Islamic jihadist insurgency in the West Asian nation.
While the American military has been downsized by leaps and bounds during the Obama years, it turns out that the Russians aren’t the only ones flexing their military muscle in the Mediterranean Sea, which was once nicknamed an “American lake.” As reported by the Sina.com Chinese news service and also on Beijing’s official Ministry of Defense website, China’s Navy and Marines are also filling the vacuum created by the absence of the once massive American presence in the Med.
China’s 20th Escort Taskforce, consisting of the guided-missile destroyer Ji’nan, guided-missile frigate Yiyang and comprehensive supply ship Qiandaohu have just completed joint naval exercises with the once-American allied Egyptian Armed Forces. As reported, the 20th Escort Taskforce recently dropped anchor in Alexandria, Egypt for a little shore leave that was officially tagged “a 5-day goodwill port visit.”
The Obama Administration has defacto cutoff all military cooperation with the Egyptian government since the military-led revolution of 2013 that ousted the Muslim Brotherhood-heavy government of Mohamed Morsi. General Abdel al-Sisi led the 2013 revolt, and has since been elected president. With the US government wanting nothing to do with the al-Sisi government, the nation’s leader has openly courted both Russia and China for military and economic assistance.