Thursday, July 20, 2006

Israeli military strategy looks transformational

Linking to Debka File burned me one time before, but I couldn't resist this. If nothing else, it makes good reference material in discussing Israeli military strategy in its fight against Hezbollah in Lebanon. Yesterday's attack on Hezbollah's bunker headquarters was an attempt to possibly shorten the duration of military activity. If they had successfully liquidated Nasrallah et al, it certainly would have changed the dynamic of the fighting. According to Debka, the next step is light force attacks into Lebanon:

Now, small, swift in-and-out ground raids to sterilize southern Lebanon of Hizballah fighters and rocket launchers will begin to figure largely in the Israeli campaign. To ease the action of these special units and the air force - and remove civilians from the line of fire - some 300,000 Lebanese were instructed Wednesday night, July 19, to move out of the south Lebanon to a line north of the Litani River.

It is not clear how this mass migration can be effected when many of the roads and bridges were bombed out by Israeli jets. Hizballah is also blocking their path.

If this stratagem does work, it will leave the IDF with a broad sweep of land 38-40 km deep inside Lebanon, quite a different proposition from the 1-km security zone Israeli officials were discussing at the outset of the campaign. The Olmert government is clear on one point: Israel will not send large-scale tank and ground forces to seize control of the south and risk being trapped there again as it has before. Hizballah can be expected to take advantage of the spaces in the region for small-scale, painful strikes and ambushes against the swift-moving Israeli special ground forces. The Shiite terrorists will also persevere in their attempts to send contingents across the border into northern Israel, accompanied by heavy Katyusha attacks against Israeli civilians, where human distress and shortages grow daily.

The Lebanon war has thus entered a new, broader stage.

We'll see what the future holds. If this does prove to be Israel's strategy, it shows they are adopting the transformational approach the US is using in Afghanistan and Iraq. Go in with small, but highly trained and lethal units who won't lose a toe to toe battle with terrorists. Because of light numbers, they are more suscpetible to ambush and it is hard to stick around long enough to hold ground pried from the enemy.

There are some parallels between US and Israeli approaches in attacking enemy leadership. In Afghanistan, we took out Mohammad Atef, Osama's right-hand man and master of strategy. He ranked higher than Zawahiri at the time. Fortunately, he didn't live long enough to become as famous. It's reasonable to believe that Atef's demise changed the equation for al Qaeda.

We aimed our first shot in Iraq at a palace where Saddam, Uday and Qusay were hanging out. We didn't get them, but imagine the equation change if we did. We also came close to nailing Saddam a few weeks later.

The transformational approach takes longer than using conventional ground forces. However, the greatest source of condemnation against Israel is collateral damage among Lebanese civilians. With a massed ground attack, air and naval fire would continue. Added to it would be tank and massive artillery fire. Civilians casualties may easily increase. The ground must be cleared for an invasion force.

BTW: I found this news item in the middle of the article interesting:

Central Israel became one large gridlock for five hours as security forces staged a manhunt for a Palestinian suicide bomber from the West Bank heading for a crowd center. He was caught in Hod Hasharon.

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