Why are so many Iranian generals getting killed in Syria?

McClatchy reports: At least six generals from the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps have been killed in Syria since 2013, according to an official of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. Three of those, including Hamadani, who was killed Oct.9 in the embattled northern city of Aleppo, have died since the beginning of the month.

A seventh Revolutionary Guard general was killed by an Islamic State sniper in Iraq last year.

Experts say the deaths of so many senior officers in Syria underscore the Iranian commitment to preserving Assad’s government in a “rump” Syria that includes most of the country’s major cities and the coastal province of Latakia, the traditional center of Assad’s religious sect, the Alawites.

It also is a reflection of the difference between Iran’s fighting tactics and those of Western militaries, whose senior officers usually direct operations from heavily protected command centers far in the rear.

Just one U.S. general has been killed in a conflict zone since the Vietnam War ended more than 40 years ago. That officer, Army Maj. Gen. Harold Greene, was shot by an Afghan soldier during a visit to a Kabul military academy in August 2014.

The need for close battlefield supervision by senior commanders has grown as the pro-Assad force has become a diverse amalgam of fighters from Lebanon, Iraq and Iran as well as Syria, cobbled together to compensate for the Syrian army’s serious manpower shortages. In addition to coordinating with one another, the units must be synchronized with airstrikes from Russian and Syrian jet fighters and helicopter gunships.

“When you need as many bodies on the ground to do the fighting . . . they need better coordination,” said Philip Smyth, a University of Maryland researcher who tracks Iranian-backed Shiite militias. “You need guys who are hard core and can really provide the stiff style of leadership and command, people who are not going to flinch under fire.” [Continue reading…]

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