I am no military or strategic analyst, but what follows are mere curious speculations of a person who has been living this war and watching its details closely for 6 years by now.
Lebanon 1982 against the Israelis, was the last time the Syrian Army pursued its task of fighting enemies, and since that confrontation no improvement or development of any kind occurred to its structure, it remained as a symbol that was not taken care of as it should have been. When the conflict started in 2011, no one was prepared for it, even the Army was unprepared and unexperienced, there were too many casualties caused by strategic and tactical mistakes in its lines, and all expectations were that it would collapse in no time, but here it is 6 years later still standing.
At the beginning of the conflict in Syria in 2011, the control of the government was so strong and tight, as things were still ‘local’ so to speak. As foreign fighters from at least 81 countries started to flow into Syria and groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups started to formulate, things got more complicated and too many fronts opened; strength of the Army was distracted leading to the loss of more territory gradually. Looking at maps of control areas in 2012 and 2014 clearly shows how much land went out of government control. Read more