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Home arrow News Content arrow Blog arrow Blog Items arrow Intelligence arrow U.S. Army Analysis of the Lebanon War:
U.S. Army Analysis of the Lebanon War: PDF Print E-mail
Written by Blogged March 2008 by lennybendavid   
Wednesday, 16 July 2008

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Not Easy Reading, but It Helps Explain What Happened Some Israelis remain angry over the conduct of the Lebanon war in 2006. Reservists believe they were poorly equipped, trained and led. Residents of the north felt they were abandoned and believe today that they’re still not protected from Hizbullah rockets. Many Israelis were hoping that the Winograd Commission report on the Lebanon war would give voice to their concerns. But the Winograd report was so sidetracked by domestic Israeli politics and publicists’ spin that relatively little was distilled from it.

A new study by the U.S. Army's Combined Arms Center, We Were Caught Unprepared: The 2006 Hizbullah-Israeli War by Matt M. Matthews, helps provide a clear picture of what led to the war and of its failures. Matthews also presents his study as a warning to the U.S. Army [blue sections below are excerpts from Matthews’ study]:
After years of conducting successful counterinsurgency operations against the Palestinians, the Israeli military encountered substantial problems in shifting its focus to major combat operations against Hizbullah. As with the IDF prior to the 2006 war, the U.S. Army, at least for the last three years, has focused almost exclusively on irregular warfare. For the IDF, these operations seriously dulled ground maneuver combat skills, particularly among tank crewmen.

Matthews presents analyses of Hizbullah’s development, Israel’s hasty retreat from Lebanon in 2000, and Hizbullah’s planning for the 2006 war. One section cites Hizbullah’s “13 principles of war,” revealed over a decade ago by veteran Israeli analyst Ehud Ya’ari. They were relevant in Lebanon in 2006; they’re relevant today in Gaza, too.

Hizbullah’s principles of war were specifically designed to defeat a relatively fixed, technologically advanced enemy:

1. Avoid the strong, attack the weak—attack and withdrawal!
2. Protecting our fighters is more important than causing enemy casualties!
3. Strike only when success is assured!
4. Surprise is essential to success. If you are spotted, you have failed!
5. Don’t get into a set-piece battle. Slip away like smoke, before the enemy can drive home his advantage!
6. Attaining the goal demands patience, in order to discover the enemy’s weak points!
7. Keep moving; avoid formation of a front line!
8. Keep the enemy on constant alert, at the front and in the rear!
9. The road to the great victory passes through thousands of small victories!
10. Keep up the morale of the fighters; avoid notions of the enemy’s superiority!
11. The media has innumerable guns whose hits are like bullets. Use them in the battle!
12. The population is a treasure—nurture it!
13. Hurt the enemy and then stop before he abandons restraint!


Matthews describes the incredibly complex and unrealistic defense doctrine, “Effects-Based Operations (EBO),” adopted by chief of staff and former Air Force commander Dan Halutz. The doctrine confused Israeli commanders and led inevitably to battlefield failures.

According to [Israeli reserve officer] Ron Tira, the new doctrine inflated the “focus on the cognitive side of war and the media war. Instead of killing the bad guys like in the good old days, they wanted to create a ‘consciousness of victory’ on our side and ‘cognitive perception of defeat’ on the other side.” Commanders need to speak in a simple accessible manner, composed essentially of two things: what do we occupy and what do we blow up. This is understandable.

One of the major problems within the IDF, Tira explained to Matthews, was “the over-zealous embrace of the American effects-based operations (EBO) idea. EBO’s aim is to paralyze the enemy’s operational ability, in contrast to destroying its military force. This is achieved by striking the headquarters, lines of communication, and other critical junctions in the military structure. EBO [was] employed in their most distinct form in the Shock and Awe campaign that opened the 2003 Iraq War. However, the Americans used EBO to prepare the way for their ground maneuvers, and not as an alternative to them.”

Matthews details the massive Hizbullah construction of 600 bunkers across Lebanon. North Korean engineers were involved in the construction, Matthews writes, a possibility suggested by this author last October in a Jerusalem Post article, Mining for Trouble in Lebanon.


Although the Israeli intelligence community believed Hizbullah’s defensive network was based on “Iranian military doctrine,” another source suggests the elaborate system was based on “a defensive guerrilla force organized along North Korean lines.” In fact, the same source concluded that “all the movement’s underground facilities, including arms dumps, food stocks, dispensaries for the wounded, were put in place primarily in 2003–2004 under the supervision of North Korean instructors.” Evidence further suggests that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard was also heavily involved in the construction effort. Intelligence sources concluded that Hizbullah was “believed to be benefiting from assistance provided by North Korean advisers.

It is very apparent that the new Israeli Chief of Staff, Gabi Ashkenazi (pictured), retains much of his tough Golani Brigade esprit de corps. That means he sees the battlefield with boots-on-the-ground and not just from 30,000 feet. Israel’s defense minister and former IDF chief of staff, Ehud Barak, also knows the smell of cordite. Infantry and armored corps reservists are once again being equipped and trained.

Have Israel’s other politicians learned the lessons of the Lebanon war? The on-and-off operations against Hamas in Gaza do not yet provide a clear answer.


 
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