Yaakov Katz at JPOST has an interesting piece about the 2006 Lebanon war up today. It’s a report on an IDF research article and it comes to some ugly conclusions..
- Israel failed to execute the last war as well as Hezbollah
- Israel needs to prepare for hundreds of 5 man Guerrilla teams infiltrating Israel in coming conflicts
- Hezbollah is armed to the teeth with advanced weapons
- Israel needs to prepare for a possible scenario where it has “No US Ally or Support”
We’ve already seen a waning of our US alliance under Obama, and a crimp on weapons from the US.
What is of particular interest is the guerrilla raiding teams aspect.
One notes that the catalyst for the last war itself was in fact two or three such teams carrying out a similar attack across the northern border against an IDF patrol, with the goal of killing & capturing IDF soldiers. Using the rocketing of Israeli civilians as a diversion, two such teams ambushed IDF humvees on patrol with RPGs and weapons fire, killing at least three soldiers & abducting Goldwasser & Regev – Who themselves were probably either dead or mortally wounded in the ambush.
Other raiding teams were lying in ambush within Lebanon itself, waiting for the IDF Tank response to cross the border in hot pursuit – Directly toward the intricate Hezbollah bunker & mine networks leading to further IDF losses. The result was the full outbreak of war, where Israel faced village after village stocked with these small teams armed up with advanced RPGs & anti-tank weaponry, complete with advanced armor piercing shaped warhead charges.
In 2000, another similar ambush occurred. That time however Hezbollah were wearing UNIFIL / UN uniforms and driving UN vehicles as their diversion & cover. They attacked a smaller IDF patrol destroying their vehicle, and hauled off three IDF soldiers who again were most likely either dead or mortally wounded.
Large scale raids
The prospect of Hezbollah scaling up this strategy is clearly a serious threat, dozens of such teams or even hundreds as mentioned in the article could create havoc in Northern Israel – Even a mini insurgency going on for some time, in a frightening hide & go seek manner relying on local ‘Arab Israeli infrastructure’ & villages for shelter or supplies, while seeking to kill untold numbers of Israeli civilians.
Unlike traditional threats, Israel could not rely on choppers, heavy weaponry or tanks to counter this terrorist rush. They’d have to be engaged by elite combat forces in close quarters. It should also be noted that these teams would not be Hezbollah regulars, but Iranian trained Revolutionary Guards serving Hezbollah as proxy fighters, these are the most heavily armed & best trained fighters terrorism can currently buy.
Hezbollah is in reality an army with the full Iranian weapons arsenal that employs terrorist tactics, this differentiates them somewhat from traditional guerrilla threats like those faced by the US in Iraq or Afghanistan, and represents a serious challenge. Hezbollah’s heavier weapons & longer range rockets require full logistics & abilities beyond any terror group to maintain & launch, light years beyond what any normal insurgency can muster. How do you engage with an army that does not follow any rules of war on any level? Worse, one who’s main goal is the killing of civilians and causing civilian damage / casualties as opposed to engaging in normal warfare.
The Syria Factor
Also of note, comments by Syrian President Bashar Assad to the effect that this is the manner Syria intends to fight Israel going forward. In 2006, Assad & Syrian Ministers hinted that Syria could resort to ‘Armed Resistance’ & Guerrilla Warfare to retrieve the Golan Heights.
Unable to defeat Israel with their conventional forces the Arabs & Iranians have now fully also invested themselves in terrorism & missiles that target civilians, instead of just tanks or planes to fight. It’s not very honorable, but it sure can kill a lot of innocent people.
Let’s hope IDF reforms past, present & future are gearing up to counter these realities. Its no small challenge as Israel needs to counter traditional warfare threats from tanks & planes. Missile & rocket threats from tens of thousands of short medium range weapons on multiple fronts. Missile threats from large long range ballistic weapons probably armed with WMD. A full terrorist threat comprising of gunmen & suicide bombers, and now a combination Guerrilla / Terrorist threat armed with conventional advanced army weapons.
SoccerDad provides a stunner of a Link update:
Using his rather impressive encyclopedic knowledge, SD points out to me that he has read something similar to the report being referenced here on Hezbollah previously! - In fact reading the link he sent my mouth kinda opened a bit. Written a decade ago, Israel’s current Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz warned of a nearly identical threat from Israel’s seam line with Judea & Samaria in reference to the Oslo accords, and the arming of PA security forces by Israel.
Reprinted from Commentary Magazine, December, 1999:
WHEN THE PALESTINIAN ARMY INVADES THE HEART OF ISRAEL
Yuval outlines in very specific terms the dangers to critical infrastructure, civilians, the military and the entire state that small groups of Palestinian guerrillas in a mass assault could inflict. It’s a prophetic & sobering analysis, one which has left me with an entirely new facet of respect for Mr. Steinitz, while equally leaving me scratching my head somewhat as well.
Where were the IDF big thinkers?
Spanning all that time until now? How come these issues have not been addressed seemingly on multiple borders, and why have we seen in many ways now more than a decade of mediocre IDF strategic thinking, culminating in the painful 2006 Lebanon war? Is it merely complacency or something far more troubling.
Israel’s own Lebanon War Winograd Report blasted the IDF for their lack of out of the box strategic thought, compounded by having a Labor Union chief playing Defense Minister & a negligent Prime Minister. We’re going to need a better effort from our political echelon, regional commands & our upper mid level commanders. Hopefully, the mere fact that we are finally seeing the IDF internalizing, thinking & discussing, while simultaneously reporting & researching means the IDF has come to the same conclusion.
Ehud Barak’s sad Lebanese legacy
Equally, I would like very much to point out that the current Defense Minister Ehud Barak, while serving as the Prime Minister around the time Steinitz penned his own analysis above compounded this situation badly. Barak opened up this second northern front by precipitously & delusionally withdrawing from the Lebanon security corridor in the middle of the night. A move which was stunning in its lack of strategic planning or thought on so many levels it left me in tears when I watched it unfold on the news a decade ago.
He did so with no political deal whatsoever to fill the void left by the dismantling of the Phalange (Israel’s Christian Lebanese Militia allies) and withdrawal of IDF forces from Lebanon, let alone a secured peace deal. Without a doubt the single biggest strategic bungle of the last decade by far. We already know the results of that poor strategic thought on the part of Barak – It’s known as South Lebanon, now a mini self enclosed Iranian terror state which manifested itself in less than 5 years. One imagines he took something away from this & other stunning failures like Camp David II, which resulted in the most brutal terror assault Israel has ever seen.
I’m going to stop now, I’m feeling disillusioned & I have so much more to say I could go on forever. You could write a book about the issues in this post but I promised my readers I would hold post lengths and I’ve already doubled this post’s word count.
It’s not my fault, Gerstman found Pandora’s Box!