The first thing the journalists noticed was that the Russian military involved in the airstrike campaign in Syria bore absolutely no resemblance to the old, Soviet-style decaying force that Western journalists are often willing to create in their mind when describing the Russian army.
"Soldiers at the base are visibly proud of their crisp new uniforms and comfortable sand-colored high boots, a stark contrast with the drab Soviet-style military attire worn until recently," — AP reported.
The journalists were also particularly impressed with soldiers' housing units, equipped with air conditioning and plenty of shower cabins in them.
"A field kitchen and a canteen look immaculately clean, a sight to shock anyone familiar with crude ways of the old-style Russian military," AP said, noting a vivid contrast with Soviet army canteens in Afghanistan and Chechnya.
These positive changes in the Russian military are the result of the hard work of Sergei Shoigu, the Russian Defense Minister widely popular among soldiers and officers alike, AP said. Shoigu, indeed, has the reputation of a man who can get things done.
With airstrikes in Syria, Russia has shown its full military capacity at a level that most US experts didn't expect. After Russia launched cruise missiles at ISIL-targets in Syria from ships located in the Caspian Sea, it raised a few eyebrows in the West, as the US military will now have to figure out how to deal with the unprecedented way of firing missiles from a long range.
On September 30, Russia launched a multinational aerial campaign aimed at assisting Damascus-led forces in their fight against terrorist groups trying to oust President Bashar al-Assad. The operation was authorized by legitimate Syrian authorities.