Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

The Syrian shootdown of the Turkish jet

My first thought was that Syria shot down the Turkish F-4 because the Turks were probing Syrian air defenses. But then I remembered that the U.S. aircraft patrolling the northern Iraq no-fly zone flew out of Incirlik, Turkey, which meant that they zoomed along the northern Syrian border for years. We must have learned an ...

Wikimedia
Wikimedia
Wikimedia

My first thought was that Syria shot down the Turkish F-4 because the Turks were probing Syrian air defenses. But then I remembered that the U.S. aircraft patrolling the northern Iraq no-fly zone flew out of Incirlik, Turkey, which meant that they zoomed along the northern Syrian border for years. We must have learned an awful lot about Syrian operations, and shared almost all of it with our Turkish friends, and other members of NATO.

So what more might there be to learn? Probably a probe to see how much deterioration there has been in Syrian defenses in the last year. But that would be a good use of a drone, no? (And are we sure there was a pilot in that F-4?)

The Israelis clearly also know a lot about Syrian defenses. 

My first thought was that Syria shot down the Turkish F-4 because the Turks were probing Syrian air defenses. But then I remembered that the U.S. aircraft patrolling the northern Iraq no-fly zone flew out of Incirlik, Turkey, which meant that they zoomed along the northern Syrian border for years. We must have learned an awful lot about Syrian operations, and shared almost all of it with our Turkish friends, and other members of NATO.

So what more might there be to learn? Probably a probe to see how much deterioration there has been in Syrian defenses in the last year. But that would be a good use of a drone, no? (And are we sure there was a pilot in that F-4?)

The Israelis clearly also know a lot about Syrian defenses. 

Meanwhile, Turkish jets conducted air strikes in northern Iraq. Interesting neighborhood. 

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

More from Foreign Policy

A Panzerhaubitze 2000 tank howitzer fires during a mission in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.
A Panzerhaubitze 2000 tank howitzer fires during a mission in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.

Lessons for the Next War

Twelve experts weigh in on how to prevent, deter, and—if necessary—fight the next conflict.

An illustration showing a torn Russian flag and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
An illustration showing a torn Russian flag and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It’s High Time to Prepare for Russia’s Collapse

Not planning for the possibility of disintegration betrays a dangerous lack of imagination.

An unexploded tail section of a cluster bomb is seen in Ukraine.
An unexploded tail section of a cluster bomb is seen in Ukraine.

Turkey Is Sending Cold War-Era Cluster Bombs to Ukraine

The artillery-fired cluster munitions could be lethal to Russian troops—and Ukrainian civilians.

A joint session of Congress meets to count the Electoral College vote from the 2008 presidential election the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol  January 8, 2009 in Washington.
A joint session of Congress meets to count the Electoral College vote from the 2008 presidential election the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol January 8, 2009 in Washington.

Congrats, You’re a Member of Congress. Now Listen Up.

Some brief foreign-policy advice for the newest members of the U.S. legislature.