As one that has served in the Middle East twice in the military, I am not so sure President Trump is wrong.
Syria is a mess. It will be in the future a money pit for any nation staying there. It is all but a failed state. The civil war has destroyed so much of the nation with all the fighting. Rebuilding will cost a fortune at least.
Russia wants to stay. They have been fighting the terrorists. So will Putin be asked by Assad as the last nation there to foot the bill to help rebuild Syria? If Putin refuses, will Assad force the Russians out? These are good questions.
So is President Trump using this as a back channel way to force Putin out of Syria?
Will being forced out for not helping to rebuild Syria give Putin a black eye and the world stage?
Let us face it, Putin's Russia is not a rich country. Any money from Russia will hurt the Russian economy and thus Putin. Yet can Putin now afford not to help rebuild Syria?
The lower ranking draftees are treated like crap. Their housing, food, and pay are substandard. The bases are not nice. The normal recreational activity even on duty is drinking. Alcohol problems and alcoholism are serious issues from the treatment and the boredom of service life there.
So while the hide of the bear is tough, what is underneath is not that tough at all.
This presence in Syria by Russia is hurting their military. Russia is not and never has really been the huge bear so many have portrayed it as. The military does have a good core of special forces. Their problem for decades has been their rank and file military personnel.
Their military is and always has been a very top down system. Too many are terrified of leading without explicit orders for higher authorities. The NCOs and lower ranks lack the initiative that is normal in our forces. Without orders, they are idle. They are afraid to take action.
In our forces, the E-4s and below are expected to lead when needed. NCOs are expected to lead and take initiative without direction for above. We all are briefed as to the situation and thus take charge when needed. It is our normal. This chaos is out normal. It drives nations like Russia nuts to understand how we do it.
We will see if President Trump is making a huge mistake as so many claim. Or is President Trump quietly sticking it to Putin? If so this will be a cheap victory for us.