Saturday, August 12, 2006

Analysis: Government and IDF racked by unprecedented leadership crisis

I have been following the Israel/Hezbollah war very intently since the first day. Since that time I have wondered why an advanced and well trained military did not use tactics that would have lead to a decisive victory on the battlefield. After someone commenting that Israel was using a blitzkrieg strategy, I explained that Israelis slow and methodical military advancement could not be called a blitzkrieg. But this got me to thinking that a blitzkrieg tactic would have been the best way to take the upper hand and dictact the tempo of the war. This of course assumes that once you decide to wage war, that nothing is to stop the military from achieving victory.

The way I saw to use the blitzkrieg tactic would have been to invade Lebanon at the closest point to the Litani River. Then to make as direct as possible defensive supplies line to the river avoiding towns as much as possible. As the IDF reaches the river they would build a bridge and cross the river to the north side of the river. Napalm and defoliate the south bank of the river. Then the IDF would continue the line until the coast. This would completely cut off South Lebanon with the Hezbollah fighters and missiles locked in. The next step would tell all those in the box to leave and those that stay would be assumed to be supporters of Hezbollah.

Well, I finally found the military tactic that was drawn out at Analysis: Government and IDF racked by unprecedented leadership crisis. First the timeframe:
Senior IDF officers have been saying that the PM bears sole responsibility for the current unfavorable military situation, with Hezbollah still holding out after almost a month of fighting. According to these officers, Olmert was presented with an assiduously prepared and detailed operational plan for the defeat and destruction of Hezbollah within 10-14 days, which the IDF has been formulating for the past 2-3 years.

And the Plan:
This plan was supposed to have begun with a surprise air onslaught against the Hezbollah high command in Beirut, before they would have had time to relocate to their underground bunkers. This was to have been followed immediately by large-scale airborne and sea borne landing operations, in order to get several divisions on the Litani River line, enabling them to outflank Hezbollah's "Maginot line" in southern Lebanon. This would have surprised Hezbollah, which would have had to come out of its fortifications and confront the IDF in the open, in order to avoid being isolated, hunted down and eventually starved into a humiliating submission.

I had not specifically thought about the air campaign at the headquarters, because it is always a tricky situation to bomb inside a major city. They could end up killing some non-Hezbollah government officials. But I think that airborne and seaborne landing operations sound like a good plan also. It could be easily coupled with the tank blitzkrieg plan I mentioned earlier.
The implementation of the this plan was:
This was exactly what the IDF senior command wanted, as Israeli military doctrine, based on the Wehrmacht's blitzkrieg doctrine, has traditionally been one of rapid mobile warfare, designed to surprise and outflank an enemy.

According to senior military sources, who have been extensively quoted in both the Hebrew media and online publications with close ties to the country's defense establishment, Olmert nixed the second half of the plan, and authorized only air strikes on southern Lebanon, not initially on Beirut.

And what were the consequences of these decisions?
Whatever his reasons, the bottom line, according to these military sources, is that he castrated the campaign during the crucial first days. The decision to not bomb Beirut immediately enabled Nasrallah to escape, first to his bunker, subsequently to the Iranian embassy in Beirut.

The decision to cancel the landings on the Litani River and authorize a very limited call up of reserves forced the ground forces to fight under very adverse conditions. Instead of outflanking a heavily fortified area with overwhelming forcers, they had to attack from the direction most expected, with insufficient forces. The result, high casualties and modest achievements.

And now for the kicker:
Olmert's responsibility for inaction goes much further. The US administration had given Israel the green light to attack Syria. A senior military source has confirmed to Israel Insider that Israel did indeed receive a green light from Washington in this regard, but Olmert nixed it.

The scenario was that Syria, no military match for Israel, would face a rapid defeat, forcing it to run to Iran, with which it has a defense pact, to come to aid.

So if this is correct about the US support for an expanded war, then that may show some interest in Washington to expand the conflict. The article goes on to explain some issues relating to honor of the Israelis and other Arab countries as well as Iran.

Much of the debate about the Middle East/Israel seems to always center around natural resources especially oil. And if they can't prove that it involves oil then they say conflicts are over water. But these two countries rely most notably on tourism and in a way maybe that is what we should be thinking about. Israel felt that it could no longer be under the gun of Hezbollah's missiles. And it could force Lebanon to do something about Hezbollah by just threatening their tourist business. As noted:
Israel would undoubtedly suffer both civilian casualties and economic damage, but these would not be that much more than what we are already experiencing. We have already irreversibly lost an entire tourist season.


Update 8-13-2006
Israeli appears to be trying to trap Hezbollah fighters between forces landed near the Litani and the larger force moving in on the ground from the border. Israel has said its warplanes are attacking guerrilla targets and roads in an effort to choke off Hezbollah's supply lines. Israeli jets pummel Beirut; 5 soldiers killed; Hezbollah drones downed

It is also worth noting the use of drones by Hezbollah:
The IDF said it thwarted a major Hezbollah attack on Sunday when it shot down two Iranian-made drones laden with explosives heading toward Israel. One of the drones was shot down over Kibbutz Cabri, in the Western Galilee. The other drone was downed over the southern Lebanese port city of Tyre.

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