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Israel: Ground combat now, not later
Posted by: McQ on Saturday, July 22, 2006

Ralph Peters says Israel is losing this war. His premise:
All Hezbollah has to do to achieve victory is not to lose completely. But for Israel to emerge the acknowledged winner, it has to shatter Hezbollah. Yet Israeli miscalculations have left Hezbollah alive and kicking.
As much as I like Peters, I'm not ready to buy into this bit of rhetorical slight of hand. While I'm sure it is the intent of Israel to "shatter" Hezbollah, their immediate mission is to stop them from raining rockets down on Israeli towns and to create a secure buffer between them and Hezbollah to ensure they can't do it again.

Unfortunately that will probably entail the UN and a peacekeeping effort, much like the one that existed in south Lebanon before the rockets began raining down on Israel. But anyway, back to the Peters' premise. He feels that victory for Israel can only be achieved by destroying (I assume that's what he means by "shatter") Hezbollah.

No. That's like saying that victory against al Qaeda can only be achieved if we completely destroy them. I don't think that's true at all. To me, victory against AQ means degrading their ability to strike us to such an extent that they can't mount another 9/11. So far so good.

Peters elaborates a bit more on his point:
Israel has to pull itself together now, to send in ground troops in sufficient numbers, with fierce resolve to do what must be done: Root out Hezbollah fighters and kill them. This means Israel will suffer painful casualties - more today than if the Israeli Defense Force had gone in full blast at this fight's beginning.

The situation is grave. A perceived Hezbollah win will be a massive victory for terror, as well as a triumph for Iran and Syria. And everybody loves a winner - especially in the Middle East, where Arabs and Persians have been losing so long.
So while I don't particularly agree with his premise about what constitutes victory, I do agree with his points here. The IDF should have gone in soon after the initial retaliation in south Lebanon. Hezbollah had miscalculated the response and would have been caught pretty flat-footed. Now it is a prepared enemy which is in place to receive any ground invasion, or so any planner must now assume.

Secondly, it is obvious that anything which is perceived as a win by Hezbollah would indeed be a massive victory by terror. On the other hand, if Israel can successfully root the Hezbollah fighters out of southern Lebanon, secure a buffer zone which keeps Hezbollah from reaching Israel by rocket and then turn that zone over to a robust UN peacekeeping force which actually intends to keep the peace (don't hold your breath), then Hezbollah will have great difficulty in turning that into some sort of triumph.

Peters covers a number of looming problems and possible tactical mistakes it appears Israel may face or make. He's not happy with the number of troops being slated for commitment or the apparent timidity of Israel's military in what he considers to be a casualty averse use of air power and artillery.

An old axiom of war remains as true today as it was thousands of years ago: "no ground is taken until an infantryman (hoplite, centurion, grenadier, etc) stands upon it." Southern Lebanon is no different. Infantry troops are going to have to do the rooting out of Hezbollah terrorists. All the artillery and air power in the world can't accomplish that.

Obviously Israel doesn't want to spend the lives of its soldiers foolishly or unwisely. And we can all appreciate that. At some point though, further delay (and more time allowed for the enemy to prep the battlefield) may yield just such losses.

If Israel is going to commit ground troops it needs to do it now rather than later, in overwhelming numbers and not stop until they own the area they believe is necessary to secure Israel. And they're going to have to accept that doing so is going to be costly and painful.

But, it will secure Israel and it will deny Hezbollah any claim to victory.
 
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http://www.worldtribune.com/worldtribune/06/front2453938.0986111113.html

A very interesting piece. Fundamentally it says that the Israeli Airforce believed it’s own Press Releases and dropped the ball. Apparently the Airforce convinced itself AND the government that IT could win the bulk of Israel’s future wars. And has consumed ~60% of the Defense budget, this year, this decade the article does not make clear.

Bottom-line: the reason Israel hasn’t committed troops was because it believed it would NOT have to.

There is an Israeli saying, or so I’m told, "The Urine Rose to Our Heads." I’d say this is the case now, the Airforce felt that the lessons of Vietnam AND Operation Iraqi Freedom didn’t apply to THEM. They COULD achieve "Victory Thru Airpower." The government believed them.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
A very interesting piece. Fundamentally it says that the Israeli Airforce believed it’s own Press Releases and dropped the ball. Apparently the Airforce convinced itself AND the government that IT could win the bulk of Israel’s future wars. And has consumed ~60% of the Defense budget, this year, this decade the article does not make clear.
Thankfully, I think we’ve finally learned this lesson. But that was also what the Balkans dust up was all about.

But I don’t think that’s the whole point here. I also think, for whatever reason, there is some aversion to committing ground combat units. If so, they need to get over it and do so quickly. The longer they wait, the more time Hezbollah has to prepare the battlespace ... and that normally means increased casualties on the attacking side.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
But I don’t think that’s the whole point here. I also think, for whatever reason, there is some aversion to committing ground combat units. If so, they need to get over it and do so quickly. The longer they wait, the more time Hezbollah has to prepare the battlespace ... and that normally means increased casualties on the attacking side.
1) I concur, wholeheartedly, and so I guess we should be on Tzhal’s General Staff. I believe the reluctance is understandable. Every Israeli represents 75 Americans, 10 dead Israelis is 750 dead Americans, proportionally and in a country that is the size of the state I live in, ~4 million, EVERY casualty is SOMEONE’S brother/cousin. I think the government is leery of risking Israelis in ground combat, guys with AK’s will kill a certain minimum number of troops and I think that scares the Cabinet. It’s not going to be a Blitzkrieg a la the Six Day War. But you’re right, waiting will not REDUCE casualties, only INCREASE them.

2) However as this is QandO and agreement is suspect let me also say I condemn you on your choice of font and font size. I berlieve that you have in fact stolen them from Oliver Willis’ website. I am going to compare screen shots of both just to prove it! After all too much agreement is against the Terms of Use on this site, I believe.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Good post McQ!

The problem for the US public is that we have had several Administrations, including the Bushies, but also Truman, LBJs, Nixon’s, Clintons, and Reagans to a limited extent that have engaged us overseas - but somehow think it is clever, assures maximum flexibility, and is pure Metternich NOT to spell out strategic goals in a conflict with an adversary.

Or put the goals in nebulous terms like "PEACE", "FREEDOM", "Arab Women’s CHOICE", "NO MORE DEATHS", "LIBERATION" —- which all sound so fine but lack any specifics to define their attainment —- by the public and other nations checking and confirming criteria are met.

Since the government is to "coy" to help the public understand the goals that define success, that frees advocates to make their own goals bunk up and "inform" the public what the REAL criteria are for success or failure.

And we’ve all heard it ad nauseum from all sides:

1. Our war with Al Qaeda begins and ends with the quest for the Great White Wha...no, the Evil Mastermind! If we "get" bin Laden, preferable try him in a NYC court with 100s of lawyers begging to defend him - (a)All terror will collapse globally; (b) The world will love us again; (c)Failing to catch bin Laden means Chimpy McHitlerBurton is a miserable failure in the Global War on Terror.

2. No war is winnable because a single innocent baby or a single precious Casey Sheehan is far too high a price to pay for any reason. Only dialogue works and is the only moral choice. Instead of war, we should ask "why do they hate us, seriously, and what sum of money and aid to them will get them out of violence, rather than us feed the cycle of violence.

3. Our war is a complete failure unless we bomb Syria, Iran, Saudia Arabia and any other nation that threatens Is..err US! This can be a cakewalk and "surgical" if we just summon up our courage and send other family’s sons and daughters NOT in the Ruling Elites to do the work. Plus, people forget establishing a Victorious New Roman Empire will allow us educated elites great new money-making opportunities.

4. Victory was achieved when the Palestinians, Iraqis, and Iranians voted. And waved their Sharansky/Bush-blessed purple fingers. Remember NO democracy EVER wages war on another Democracy!! (AS long as we fail to read todays news about 2 democracies fighting and selectively read history books.)

5. Israel will fail (and we pray they do!) if they fail to capture or kill every Hezbollah member while at the same time sparing all innocent civilians and Hezbollah family members. If they don’t do that, they ARE losers, because they are morally equivalent.

6. The US defeating Iraq’s Army was a miserable failure because we failed to attack and destroy every other odious regime. (The "how can Iraq be a victory when people are dying in the Congo, Sudan sucks, Myanmar oppresses, and ’Lil Kim rules the NORKs??" among other grave American omissions, school of thought.)

7. The civil liberties crowd, who argues that the "real threat" of Hitler, the Soviet Union, now terrorists was not death and conquest....but their Real Objective - the erosion of precious Civil Liberties guaranteed in absolute terms to all American enemies...and the only way to fight and win a war was not by engaging the enemy but lawyers fighting in Court to maximize enemy rights and liberties.

8. Success as a function of Leader Princip - Meaning the public not knowing the objectives, but measuring success by the "happiness" of their particular lodestar. If Bush is bike riding and pushing more tax cuts for the wealthy, we must be winning. If the great moral force of France is happy, we are waging war correctly. If the brilliant journalists of the NYTimes say we losing or winning, we are, because the 1st Amendment puts the NYTimes in the best position to know and judge the facts for the rest of us. And speaking of judges, the world courts and our own all-wise lawyers in robes are the best people to measure and regulate how we are doing against a murderous enemy.

9. We win only when we have enough Hero Police and Hero Firefighters to protect US all, defend every target, using the unlimited money and resources to needed to Save the Children!!!! and every structure in America. And if the heroes fail just once, we LOSE! As many a low IQ government functionary has said, not exactly a confidence-builder; "We have to be perfect every time, the enemy only has to be right once for America to be defeated, so we heroes need more funds!"
Two other beliefs of this war-waging school are (I)that we should never be on the offense, because it "steals" money from the Heroes Defense, and (II)that if the enemy does kill - we vitallyneed a:
(A) National Mournathon with billion-dollar monuments to Victimhood, because by blubbering for months over casualties we show America’s true strength
(B) Investigations and apologies from all who "let" the enemy attack succeed; (C) Make every victim family not just multimillionaires for vital-to-our-Nation-to provide emotional and psychological KA-LOSH-URE to "Heal America" and "complete their therapy", but also ensure victim families of dead civilians or soldiers killed by terrorists are imbued with total moral authority to accept or reject all national security or military strategy.

10. Those who happen to agree no consensus of American security goals and strategy needs exist, and they occupy the ideological fringes from Lefties who say that it is not our right to have goals and strategy, that can only be defined and set by the World Goverment of the UN and NGOs with moral authority - or the far Right chickenhawks who believe strategy and goals consists of use of "really cool weapons" until others acknowledge America is the Big Kahuna and Ultimate Winner in whatever computer video game is running in their mind.


Ralph Peters is a good commentator, but he is stepping into the same void created by absence of clear national war, national security, and measurement criteria as the enemy rights-obsessed Jewish lawyers of the ACLU are.

The problem is not Peters or the ACLU or all the others - it’s our goverment for leaving what constitutes success or failure unresolved - leaving the path wide open for others to pontificate (including me), and the American public to become disunited, thoroughly confused, and far less supportive than they would be otherwise.
 
Written By: C. Ford
URL: http://
WOW, CFord and to think we’re talking about ISRAEl, didn’t know the US had to define ISRAEL’S Victory Conditions.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
C. Ford,

Glad to know the Jewish lawyers are the problem at the ACLU. I mean why not give them some guns and send them to Israel. That way all the Irish and Polish lawyers can clean the problem up. Sheeesh!
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://
lance they are NO Polish lawyers...EVERYONE knows about THEM. (Please note my last name ends in -ski, so yes I’m being less than serious)
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
I’d say this is the case now, the Airforce felt that the lessons of Vietnam AND Operation Iraqi Freedom didn’t apply to THEM.
I am a fan of airpower.

What was this lesson of Iraqi Freedom?

All I saw was a combined ground forces assault, preceded by 10 years of air sorties and a strategic bombing campaign, coupled to close air support wipe the floor with all resistance. Then there were boots on the ground, spread out, occupying, doing foot patrols and suffering attrition losses for about 3 years (and counting) after.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
Then there were boots on the ground, spread out, occupying, doing foot patrols and suffering attrition losses for about 3 years (and counting) after.
Attack air assets prepare the battlefield for ground combat units. The priorities for their use are established by the ground combat commander for whom the air commander works. And it is in support of his overall plan for his ground maneuver forces for which they make their BAI and CAS strikes. Attack air assets are there to support ground combat manuver units. They are a combat multipliers. They may not like being remined of that, but they call it close air support for a reason.

There isn’t a single fixed wing fighter aircraft anywhere in the world capable of doing what a 19 year old infantry private can do: take and hold ground. And you don’t win wars unless you can do that simple task.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
and then turn that zone over to a robust UN peacekeeping force which actually intends to keep the peace (don’t hold your breath)
Um... are you sure you’ve thought this through? You don’t think new UN troops will be simultaneously collaborators and human shields - just the way they are now?
 
Written By: Larry Knerr
URL: http://
Um... are you sure you’ve thought this through? You don’t think new UN troops will be simultaneously collaborators and human shields - just the way they are now?
I’m curious, Larry, what part of the parenthetical "don’t hold your breath" didn’t you understand?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
All Hezbollah has to do to achieve victory is not to lose completely. But for Israel to emerge the acknowledged winner, it has to shatter Hezbollah. Yet Israeli miscalculations have left Hezbollah alive and kicking.
Did this guy do the original copy for the VC press releases after the Tet offensive?
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Looker he has a point. Hezbollah wins, by not losing. Israel must achieve a significant reduction in Hezbollah’s force structure, it’s territory and it’s ability to strike Israel, OTHERWISE the blood and treasure expended will be for naught.

Now Hezbollah is adopting a risky strategy too, according to StrategyPage.com. Hezbollah has fielded three brigade-sized units in Lebanon, IIRC the article correctly. They are prepared to engage the Israelis in CONVENTIONAL ground combat...

Risky in that running away is the best strategy for guerillas, but it has a potential UPSIDE in that they may attrite Israel’s ground forces, which shapes the future strategic arena. They’ll "lose" but they’ll hurt the Israelis and that may influence Israle’s decisions to use force later. In 1982 the WORST combat was between Tzahal and the Syrian COmmando units, worst as in the fighting was fierce and the Arabs didn’t break. Hezbollah may be aiming for that.

Of COURSE if Tzahal uses Air Mobility, firepower and armour to isolate and destroy these three brigades, that may re-establish the Israeli reputation for invincibility.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
"I also think, for whatever reason, there is some aversion to committing ground combat units."

Experience. They’ve grabbed this tar baby before.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Looker he has a point. Hezbollah wins, by not losing.
Right, because HA doesn’t give a damn what happens to Lebanon/Lebanese society. If Israel leaves without neutralizing HA as a fighting force, it’s a successful resistance and a fresh bucketful of propaganda for them.

Lebanon cannot/will not break them. Israel must do it, or all of this is for naught.
Then there were boots on the ground, spread out, occupying, doing foot patrols and suffering attrition losses for about 3 years (and counting) after.
That’s a second fight. The first was with the Saddam regime’s forces and we won it quickly and decisively. Asymmetrical warfare with ragtag terrorist groups is a whole ’nother ball of wax. In this instance Hizbollah is a more traditional military force.
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
I’m leary of the argument though, which sounds like the argument about Tet being a victory for the VC, which it wasn’t. Survival isn’t enough for their credibility if they’ve been talking big at home.

Sadly though, I’m not sure how much Israel can really do about Hezbollah in the long run. They’re support base isn’t in Lebannon in the first place, that’s just where they’re deployed, sort of like the Iranian Légion Étrangère. Short of making it very unattractive to be in Hezbollah (and exactly how do you do that with some young guy who thinks he’s going to get himself 72 virgins for killing infidels if he gets lucky and gets killed in the process?) I don’t see how even rooting them out will destroy Hezbollah, it just denies Hezbollah the proximity needed to launch their rockets into Israeli territory. If that’s the standard for victory I think they can get there, I haven’t a clue as to how Hezbollah will perform against the IDF.

How they’re going to keep the buffer zone against international opposition
(and it will be, of course, dang those jooooooooos trying to survive again....) is beyond me. If I had more faith in the UN (apart from the Great Satan controlled contingents that won’t be any more acceptable in Southern Lebannon than they are in Kuwait and Saudi) it would be different.

Is there a way to push the reset button on that region?

http://www.defensetech.org/archives/002582.html

 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Attack air assets prepare the battlefield for ground combat units.
The israellis are now preparing the ground and should continue to do so until they are satisfied. Trying a surprise invasion of Southern Lebanon was never an option.
The IDF should have gone in soon after the initial retaliation in south Lebanon. Hezbollah had miscalculated the response and would have been caught pretty flat-footed.
Hezbollah had the knowledge that Israel could attack at any time. It knew it cannot advance in force into Israel. Therefore (apart from commando forces and rocketry) it’s entire southern combat force should be orientated to defence. Hezbollah has had years to formulate plans of stopping an Israelli invasion, they have their Maginot Line in southern Lebanon. If a quick incursion caught them flat-footed, it would have caught them flat-footed in a defensive posture.

Much better for Israel to prepare the ground for their offensive and disrupt the existing Hezbollah defenses.
 
Written By: Unaha-closp
URL: http://
Unahop, I’d say that the current state is evidence of Israeli failure. Israel understands that no war involving it and its neighbors is going to last long. It’s why the Israelis planned on three days of continuous operations in each front in the Six Day war. So Israel is WASTING time by this bombing and shelling. Arty and air are at their most effective in the first few MINUTES. Continued shelling does NOT equate to anything like victory. IF the Israelis haven’t committed troops by now it probably says they didn’t plan to or didn’t plan to commit too many troops, expecting air and fire strikes to defeat Hezbollah. My feeling is that this is "Plan B." And they need to get on the stick on implementing it, IMO.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Joe,
Israel understands that no war involving it and its neighbors is going to last long. It’s why the Israelis planned on three days of continuous operations in each front in the Six Day war.
In the 6 Day War they were facing numerically superior and potentially militarily superior opponents. Their enemies were willing and possibly able to commit to an offensive against Israel. Also in 1967 Israel was not supported by the USA. The Israellis needed to attack unexpectedly with everything they had and gain the advantage of surprise to finish the military battle before the logistical superiority of Egypt could be brought to bear. None of this applies in the current conflict. Hezbollah is much weaker than Egypt ever was and Israel is much stronger (thanks to American assistance) than it ever was. Hezbollah cannot hurt Israel, no matter if this war takes 6 days or 100 days. Also as a note of caution, perhaps Israel felt it could not devote overwhelming forces to a large scale quick attack without stripping away reserves facing Egypt, Lebanon, Syria.

What we are seeing is the logistical and tech superiority of Israel grind down any defensive structures Hezbollah has. This will allow the designated raiding force Israel has made available to move in with overwhelming superiority.
 
Written By: Unaha-closp
URL: http://
What we are seeing is the logistical and tech superiority of Israel grind down any defensive structures Hezbollah has. This will allow the designated raiding force Israel has made available to move in with overwhelming superiority
.
Israel’s wars are short because the UN and/or outside powers prevent them lasting too long. The Yom Kippur War lasted as long as it did, because the USSR wanted to last longer, in the beginning, and in the end the US wanted it to last longer, but it only lasted about three weeks.

Israel doesn’t have TIME to "grind down" their opponents. Air power and fire power will take MONTHS to "grind" down Hezbollah, months they won’t get. Note that the US used 42 days to "prep" in Gulf War II, but in the end it came down to Marine Riflemen and 11-M’s to defeat the Iraqi’s, in 100 hours. But note that the US owned the UNSC, whereas Israel does not.

Unahop- the "Combined Arms Team" will succeed in Lebanon, not merely Light forces in combination with Air Power. Light force lack the tactical mobility, fire power, and survivibility to last against Hezbollah forces. Sure they will WIN every engagement, BUT at a cost in infantrymen Isreal can’t afford. Armour and mechanized forces, IN COMBINATION, with airmobile and Special Operations forces CAN dislocate and defeat Hezbollah, at an accepptable cost, the wuestion is, "Is there time?"
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://

 
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