16 August, 2006

Strategy Page versus Strategic Forecasting

Strategy Page:
The success of the ceasefire in Lebanon hinges on a condition that Lebanon and Hizbollah both insist will not happen. Hizbollah is supposed to disarm, but says bluntly that it will not do so. The Lebanese government says it will not force Hizbollah to disarm. So what's going to happen? It appears that Israel is going to hold the UN responsible for carrying out its peace deal, and disarm Hizbollah. To that end, Israel will withdraw its troops from Lebanon, and leave it to UN peacekeepers to do what they are obliged to do. But here's the catch, not enough nations are stepping forward to supply the initial 3,500 UN forces, much less the eventual 15,000 UN force. However, it is likely that, eventually, enough nations will supply troops. But many of those contingents may not be willing to fight Hizbollah. Israel says it will not completely withdraw from Lebanon until the UN force is in place.

The Israeli strategy appears to be to allow the UN deal to self-destruct. If the UN peacekeepers can disarm Hizbollah, fine. If not, Israeli ground troops will come back in and clear everyone out of southern Lebanon. At that point, it will be obvious that no one else is willing, or able, to deal with the outlaw "state-within-a-state" that Hizbollah represents. Hizbollah will still exist after being thrown out of southern Lebanon, and it will be up to the majority of Lebanese, and the rest of the Arab world, to deal with Hizbollah and radical Shias.

Hizbollah suffered a defeat. Their rocket attacks on Israel, while appearing spectacular (nearly 4,000 rockets launched), were unimpressive (39 Israelis killed, half of them Arabs). On the ground, Hizbollah lost nearly 600 of its own personnel, and billions of dollars worth of assets and weapons. Israeli losses were far less. (continue reading)

Stratfor:
In this conflict, what Hezbollah has achieved is not so much a defeat of Israel as a demonstration that destruction in detail is not an inevitable outcome of challenging Israel. Hezbollah has showed that it is possible to fight to a point that Israel prefers a cease-fire and political settlement to a military victory followed by political accommodation. Israel might not have lost any particular battle, and a careful analysis of the outcome could prove its course to be reasonable. But the loss of the sense -- and historical reality -- of the inevitability of Israeli military victory is a far more profound defeat for Israel, as this clears the way for other regional powers to recalculate risks.

Hezbollah meticulously prepared for the war by analyzing Israeli strengths and weaknesses. Israel is casualty-averse by dint of demographics. It therefore resorts to force multipliers such as air power and armor, combined with excellent reconnaissance and tactical intelligence. Israel uses mobility to cut lines of supply and air power to shatter centralized command-and-control, leaving enemy forces disorganized, unbalanced and unsupplied.

Hezbollah sought to deny Israel its major advantages. The group created a network of fortifications in southern Lebanon that did not require its fighters to maneuver and expose themselves to Israeli air power. Hezbollah stocked those bunkers so fighters could conduct extended combat without the need for resupply. It devolved command to the unit level, making it impossible for a decapitation strike by Israel to affect the battlefield. It worked in such a way that, while the general idea of the defense architecture was understood by Israeli military intelligence, the kind of detailed intelligence used -- for example, in 1967 -- was denied the Israelis. Hezbollah acquired anti-tank weapons from Syria and Iran that prevented Israeli armor from operating without prior infantry clearing of anti-tank teams. And by doing that, the group forced the Israelis to accept casualties in excess of what could, apparently, be tolerated. In short, it forced the Israelis to fight Hezbollah's type of war, rather than the other way around.

Hezbollah then initiated war at the time and place of its choosing. There has been speculation that Israel planned for such a war. That might be the case, but it is self-evident that, if the Israelis wanted this war, they were not expecting it when it happened. The opening of the war was not marked by the capture of two Israeli soldiers. Rather, it was the persistent and intense bombardment of Israel with missiles -- including attacks against Israel's third-largest city, Haifa -- that compelled the Israelis to fight at a moment when they obviously were unprepared for war, and could not clearly decide either their war aims or strategy. In short, Hezbollah applied a model that was supposed to be Israel's forte: The group prepared meticulously for a war and launched it when the enemy was unprepared for it.
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4 comments:

sid said...

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bandicoot said...

Isn't it interesting that Strategypage-supplied estimates of Hizbullah losses are identical to those published by the IDF and that somehow it doesn't mention the 119 Israeli soldiers killed and 750 injured during the war?

As for Stratfor, I think the scenario they present is a bit hyped. If HA was planning to surprise Israel strategically they would've started in a much more aggressive way, attacking in several points and firing rockets deep into Israel before waiting for Israeli fighters and artillery to start pounding Lebanon. As I mentioned somewhere else, I thin HA expected a harsh Israeli response and prepared for it. Of course it might have been also ready for a larger war, just like any force in that situation should've been; but starting a war is a whole different matter.

TwinTopaz said...

Like IDF is a baby kitten who can be lured just by offering some milk?? hilarious...

Ok IDF lost it..but please do not belittle them..

mangy dog said...

Seems to have happened, doesn't it?

(Wonder who moderates...and what criteria are applied.)

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