Sleek combat jets loaded with precision bunker-buster bombs roar into the skies as soldiers in desert-style uniforms march past rows of neat housing at this Russian military base at one of Syria’s largest airports.

The air campaign in Syria, Russia’s first military action outside the former Soviet Union since the war in Afghanistan, shows a revamped Russian military, which sharply differs in both capability and mindset from the old, Soviet-style force.

It is capable of quickly projecting power far from Russian borders, widely uses drones and precision weapons, and cares about soldiers’ comfort.

The thunder of Syria’s civil war couldn’t be heard at Hemeimeem, located in the coastal province of Latakia, which has largely been spared the chaos and destruction of more than 4 1/2 years of fighting in Syria.

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