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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Lebanon: What happened, and what is to be done?

At Israpundit, Ted has a lengthy article by Ami Isseroff regarding the recent war. While I don't agree with his statements regarding the 'settlements' (I believe that they do have security value and that Israel was made less secure by expelling the Jews from the Gaza Strip), there is much in here that rings true. Here's some of it:

The war demonstrated that the IDF and the Defense Ministry and the entire government decision-making apparatus are no longer functioning properly.
There was not one problem, or one mistake, but numerous mistakes that show a systemic malaise:

     Facing the missile threat for six years and failing to provide a solution or a defense of any kind.
     Saving money on reserve training so it could be squandered on settlements and frills. [This is one place I disagree with him. First, because I attribute security value to the 'settlements' and second, because the budget for the 'settlements' has been cut beyond the bare bone. If we don't put civilians there, the 'Palestinians' will. CiJ]
     Deciding to attack when there was no solution for the anti-tank missiles - a known threat.
     Deciding to attack when there was no solution for the rockets raining down on Israeli cities, and no civil defense in place. [The problem with the latter two mistakes is that those solutions should have been in place before we ever had to decide to attack. The failure here was not in responding immediately to the Hezbullah kidnapping so much as it was the failure to be prepared for such an eventuality. CiJ]
     As in 1973, depending on USA for vital weapons that USA held up for political reasons. [I'm not sure what he's referring to here. Possibly the rushed order of bunker buster bombs. It also appears that there was a lot of weaponry that had been ordered but of which delivery had not been taken, most notably the cluster bombs. CiJ]
     Failure to call up reserves before attacking. This left the Golan at the mercy of the kind Mr. Assad for many days, and also meant that there were no ground troops to throw into the battle when the air assault failed. [True, but fortunately, the Golan was not hit by Assad. CiJ]
     Reliance on the same absurd American tactics that failed in Vietnam - bombing from above when the enemy is underground and trying to bomb supply routes of guerillas.
     Failure to make a realistic assessment of progress in the first days, when the air-attack was failing.
     Basic logistics failure - reserve units reached the front with no food and missing other basic supplies and equipment.
     Failed diplomacy and a failed strategy that did not achieve the essential, vital goal of the war: getting international action to disarm the Hezbollah.

In this war, the IDF, or the civilian direction of the IDF, abandoned all of the proven Israeli military doctrines: to carry the war to the enemy immediately, to act quickly because the war must be brief, never to give up ground taken in battle.

Each of these absurd and obvious mistakes cost many lives. How many people died in order to take and retake Bint el-Jbail?

For the record, it's worth looking up Isseroff's biography, which explains a lot of his political views (i.e. why he doesn't recognize security value arising from the 'settlements'), and then you should read the rest of it.


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