The inability to compensate for the severe shortage in manpower of the Syrian regime forces can be attributed to negative phenomena that were widespread, most notably the phenomenon of evading mandatory military service. Moreover, arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance exercised by the Syrian regime are other reasons can be added to such an inability, especially after the official military establishment’s symbolism has been affected in the Syrians’ mind as such an institution involved in fighting and displacing civilians. As a result, Syrians, whether parents or sons, refrained from joining the army, which has contributed to their own tragedies.
Not only the repeated and individual calls for voluntary enlistment in the army that are issued by the unit's leadership, but also the utilization of their infrastructure, particularly by the regime's allies, especially Iran are key indications of the shortage of manpower within the army.
Despite the regime's attempts to compensate for the shortage of manpower in most of its military units, including elite forces like the Fourth Division, which has a shortage rate of 40% in its combat units. The aforementioned division, for example, has relied on temporary methods and measures that have not contributed to solving the problem (such as settlements and specific time and place volunteer contracts). Instead, these measures have deepened the problematic relationship between the army and society, and have revealed the transformation of the majority of units into formal structures without real impact on the ground, as is the case with the army’s First Division and the Ninth Division. The regime has also failed in its attempts to demonstrate the continued existence of the military institution through occasional decrees and laws that regulates this establishment.
This report assists stakeholders, concerned parties, and decision-makers in obtaining a realistic assessment of the Syrian regime's army and determining to what extent it can be entrusted with future tasks, taking into consideration the violations it has committed, such as arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance.