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Thread: The 2006 Hezbollah-Israeli War (catch all)

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    Default The 2006 Hezbollah-Israeli War (catch all)

    Moderator's Note: Main thread enhanced by merging three smaller threads today.


    10 August Jerusalem Post - Analysis: IDF Fumes Over Denied Victory by Yaakov Katz.

    The booms of Katyusha rockets continued; another day of what has become routine in the North. But the IDF was holding position, waiting for orders that did not come. After 30 days of fighting, the war with Hizbullah seemed to be nearing its conclusion Thursday.

    Just a day earlier, the situation had looked drastically different. The security cabinet had approved the army's request to send thousands of troops up to the Litani River and beyond in an effort to destroy Hizbullah's infrastructure and to stop the Katyusha attacks. After the cabinet meeting, one division actually began moving north from Metulla. Its goal - to clear out al-Khiam and Marjayoun and to reach the Litani.

    But then, under pressure from the US, Defense Minister Amir Peretz made a frantic call to Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz and ordered him to stop the division in its tracks. "We need to give the diplomatic process one last chance," Peretz told Halutz. The orders trickled down the chain of command and by the time they reached 366, it had already reached Marjayoun, a stone's throw from the Litani.

    With the UN Security Council on the verge of passing a cease-fire resolution, the IDF understood on Thursday that Operation Change of Direction was ending, for better or for worse.

    The IDF was disappointed. Senior officers said they had been looking forward to the fight. Reaching the Litani and eliminating Hizbullah from the villages on the way could have provided, senior officers believe, the victory that Israel has been trying to obtain since July 12. By Thursday night, the chance of that happening was drifting away...

    ... But the political echelon thinks differently, and from the first day of this war the politicians, senior officers said, held the IDF back from escalating its offensive and hitting Hizbullah hard. First it was the massive air campaign. Then came the limited, pinpoint ground raids. Only when all that failed did Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his cabinet approve a large-scale incursion into Lebanon and the re-creation of the security zone.

    This wishy-washy decision-making process cost the IDF lives, according to one senior officer. "A military force always needs to be on the offensive, pushing forward and keeping the enemy on its toes," he said. "When you sit still for too long, you turn into a target and you begin to get hit again and again."

    That is what has been happening. Over the past 30 days of fighting Hizbullah, the army has lost 83 soldiers, 35 of them this week. "That is what happens when you sit still and don't move," the officer said. "The enemy fortifies its positions and gains the upper hand."

    The results of sitting in place can also be seen in the way most of the soldiers who died this week were killed. Hundreds of anti-tank missiles have been fired at troops in southern Lebanon. When a force sits still it becomes an easy target, officers said. One said he thought that the number of casualties from "just sitting and waiting for orders" could turn out to be the same as the IDF would have lost had it been allowed to make the push to the Litani...

    ...The IDF has been at a loss to stop the mostly old and primitive rockets. Hizbullah has been preparing for this war for the past six years and, alongside the 13,000 short-range Katyusha rockets, it has amassed thousands of anti-tank missiles..

    Hizbullah has thousands of Soviet-built Sagger, Cornet and Fagot anti-tank missiles, as well as the French Milan and the US-built TOW, all supplied by Iran and Syria. These missiles are usually fired by a two- or three-man team.

    There are many lessons the IDF needs to learn from the fighting about anti-tank missiles and the way to deal with the threat, a high-ranking officer said. But the most important lesson the top brass has to internalize is that it needs to bring clear plans to the political echelon and to always be on the offensive...
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 08-30-2012 at 11:46 AM. Reason: Add note

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default Same Subject: Very Different View

    From Israeli Dissident Yitzhak Laor:

    The truth behind this is that Israel must always be allowed to do as it likes even if this involves scorching its supremacy into Arab bodies. This supremacy is beyond discussion and it is simple to the point of madness. We have the right to abduct. You donít. We have the right to arrest. You donít. You are terrorists. We are virtuous. We have sovereignty. You donít. We can ruin you. You cannot ruin us, even when you retaliate, because we are tied to the most powerful nation on earth. We are angels of death.

    The Lebanese will not remember everything about this war. How many atrocities can a person keep in mind, how much helplessness can he or she admit, how many massacres can people tell their children about, how many terrorised escapes from burning houses, without becoming a slave to memory? Should a child keep a leaflet written by the IDF in Arabic, in which he is told to leave his home before itís bombed? I cannot urge my Lebanese friends to remember the crimes my state and its army have committed in Lebanon.
    See: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n16/laor01_.html

    Before anyone (everyone) howls for my stoning, let me say 2 things.

    A. Laor is a dissident and as such he will state (overstate) his arguments to achieve his goals. I don't agree with his overstatements on the IDF; members of the IDF have on occasion stood against certain actions. As for a semi-miltaristic culture inside Israel, that is--for many reasons both regional and imported--quite a reality.

    B. But look at it as a glimpse inside internal Israeli angst over Lebanon and the situation as a whole.

    Best
    Tom

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    Default Israeli Troops Criticize Army, Equipment

    18 August Associated Press - Israeli Troops Criticize Army, Equipment.

    Israeli soldiers returning from the war in Lebanon say the army was slow to rescue wounded comrades and suffered from a lack of supplies so dire that they had to drink water from the canteens of dead Hezbollah guerrillas.

    "We fought for nothing. We cleared houses that will be reoccupied in no time," said Ilia Marshak, a 22-year-old infantryman who spent a week in Lebanon.

    Marshak said his unit was hindered by a lack of information, poor training and untested equipment. In one instance, Israeli troops occupying two houses inadvertently fired at each other because of poor communication between their commanders...

    In a nation mythologized for decisive military victories over Arab foes, the stalemate after a 34-day war in Lebanon has surprised many.

    The war was widely seen in Israel as a just response to a July 12 cross-border attack in which Hezbollah gunmen killed three Israeli soldiers and captured two. But the wartime solidarity crumbled after Israel agreed to pull its army from south Lebanon without crushing Hezbollah or rescuing the captured soldiers.

    Military experts and commentators have criticized the army for relying too heavily on air power and delaying the start of ground action for too long. They say the army underestimated Hezbollah, and that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert set an unrealistic goal by pledging to destroy the guerrilla group.

    This week, Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz appointed a former army chief to investigate the military's handling of the war...
    17 August Jerusalem Post editorial - Investigating the War.

    Defense Minister Amir Peretz's external investigatory committee, to be headed by former IDF chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, might provide some useful information regarding the narrow question of military decision-making during the war. It will not be sufficient to determine the broader lessons of the war in the military sphere, let alone for the political echelon and our society as a whole.

    The public, according to polls, wants a commission of inquiry. Such commissions, with the power to recommend legal sanctions against individual officials, were created in the wake of the Yom Kippur War, the killings at Sabra and Shatilla, and the deaths of Israeli Arabs at the hands of police during the riots in October 2000.

    The record of such commissions is not a promising one. They tend to create an intense focus on only one question: who will pay with their job, or even be put on trial. Though some legal experts are proud of the strength of the law providing for such commissions, others, such as former foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami, think they go too far, in that they do not even provide a right of appeal...

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    Council Member Culpeper's Avatar
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    Default Ouch!

    Man, that is demoralizing. What happened? I wonder how Sharon would have responded from the beginning.

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    Default At least they're investigating

    It appears that Israel made several strategic mistakes in the conduct of this campaign, but I wasn't aware of that their Army was in such disarray until recently, and it ďmayĒ explain why Israel relied so heavily on air power in this fight, resulting a propaganda or moral defeat for Israel in much of the West and probably all of the Arab world.

    This appears to be another situation where capable leadership was ignored and Air Power / technical enthusiasts won the day (but lost the battle) in Israelís decision making process. There is no doubt in my mind that Israel has numerous experts in conducting this type of fight, but they clearly were ignored.

    Israelís tactics resulted in very little damage to Hezbollahís militia and actually helped Hezbollah politically. Furthermore the air attacks did very little to stop the rocket attacks on Israel. Ideally, Hezbollah should have been fought mano a mano with infantry, and probably with an amphibious assault to the north to conduct a pincher moment to block their escape routes. This would have been a bloodier fight, but it would have demonstrated Israeli political will and capability. Furthermore, since Hezbollah is state sponsored (not by Lebanon), then Iran should have at least received two black eyes and a fat lip as a warning they have going too far. What we have now is a narrative on the Arab street where Israel used their Air Force to kill hundreds of innocent Lebanese civilians (true), and that their infantry couldnít defeat the Hezbollah fighters.

    Now that the initial kinetic fight is over, the real battle for victory begins. While I think the Hezbollah can be still be defeated (I donít mean totally, but significantly weakened) by the Lebanon and the West (Israel should be sitting this one out now), it will be extremely challenging. Hezbollah has many advantages:

    1. The Lebanese people hate Israel for what they did to Lebanon.
    2. The Hezbollah has an established chain of command and a strategy that they are implementing now (theyíre inside our OODA loop).
    3. Hezbollah is perceived as credible on the battlefield (the Lebanese in S. Lebanon trust them).
    4. Hezbollah has an established infrastructure throughout Lebanon and will operate with information superiority.

    We on the other hand must rapidly introduce UN peace enforcement forces to facilitate Lebanon's Army in disarming the Hezbollah, which they can't do on their own. If the West and Israel can take the lead in the IO war (it will be hard after Israel's moral set back) and convince the people of Lebanon that the Hezbollah are the source of their problems and they are delaying the rebuilding the Southern Lebanon, then just maybe we can turn this into a victory. However, we have to form a coalition, work under a UN bureaucracy, and the ultimate key to success is an under funded, under equipped and poorly trained Lebanese Army.

    If I was Israel I would put an old war horse in charge of fixing their Army, they are going to need it soon.

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    Default War Stirs Worry in Israel Over State of Military

    19 August Washington Post - War Stirs Worry in Israel Over State of Military by Doug Struck and Tal Zipper.

    Sgt. Lior Rahamin's Israeli reserve unit had not trained in two years. When its members were called up for the Lebanon war, they didn't have straps for their guns, spare ammunition, flak jackets or more than one good radio. There were other shortages: Twice their operations were canceled because they had no water to take; once they went two days without food...

    From the failure to get food and water to the troops, to complaints of an uncertain war plan and overconfident generals, the Lebanon war is fast being viewed within Israel as a major stumble. Military and political leaders already are trading blame; some are expected to lose their posts. Officers say the mistakes show weakness in the military, the Israel Defense Forces, known as the IDF. Many Israelis worry that the failure of the military to squash the Hezbollah militia will make their country more vulnerable to other enemies.

    "For four weeks we failed to defend ourselves against daily bombardments against our cities. This is a failure that never happened before," said Yuval Steinitz, a Likud Party member and former chairman of parliament's defense committee. "This is going to send a bad message."

    Such fears were fueled by a strident speech by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at the end of the war, promising to follow Hezbollah's model to retake the Golan Heights. Less than 24 hours after the cease-fire, he boasted that Hezbollah had "defeated the legend of the army that had never been defeated."

    Brig. Gen. Ido Nehushtan, a member of the Israeli army's general staff who is taking over as head of planning for the military, defended the outcome of the operation. "This was a unique war," he said in an interview Friday. "You can't judge it in a traditional way. Our war was much more like a war on terrorism than a war against an army. . . . It's not realistic to expect any white flag coming from the bunker."...

    The complaints that have emerged as Israel's soldiers return from the field have heightened the country's concerns about the state of its army and the judgment of its leaders.

    "If we would have gone in with more foot soldiers, we would have done more," said Avi Hubara, 40, a schoolteacher and reservist who volunteered to go to Lebanon to fight. "But the politicians were scared to make decisions. It was a failure. We got people killed. There was lots of friendly fire. We did not hurt the capability of the Hezbollah. We did not return the kidnapped soldiers. We did not win."...

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    Default Implications for the U.S.

    Assuming these articles are an accurate reflection of Israel's Army, then what are the security implications for the U.S.? Although I frequently have been disappointed with Israeli strategy in dealing with their security problems, they are an ally that we are obligated to assist if they get in trouble, and if Syria or Iran feel emboldened enough after Israel's latest series of combat operations to launch a conventional attack with a supporting asymmetrical line of operation, then I could see a scenario where the U.S. military will have to come to Israelís rescue. It seems like it was only yesterday that this scenario was unforeseeable, and if it happens, how will it impact our relationship with the rest of the Middle East as we endeavor to make progress in GWOT?

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    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    Default

    I'm wondering if economics played a role in the IDF's problems. I have read that they recently had enact a number of austerity measures to resusitate their economy. If money really is that tight then that might also partialy explain their reluctance to start the ground fight and also explain the shortfalls in equipment, training and logistics. That is assuming, of course, that the problems are as wide spread as we have been led to believe. I am always immediately suspicous of anything that comes from the main stream media.

    SFC W

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    Somehow it is difficult to buy this line that it was because of poor kitting that the IDF did not make their mark.

    In fact, poor kitting, poor equipment, no time to train etc are the favourite excuses that are trotted out whenever any army faces a problem that they can't solve or when they have failed to deliver.

    In fact, if the IDF was not ready to take on the Hizbollah terrorists, then they should not have gone in. Their Generals should have had the moral courage to inform their Political Leaders that unless they are equipped correctly, then they would be able to this much and no more.

    BBC informs that the reservists are not only complaining about kitting, they are complaining about rapid change of order (muddle) and incorrect tactics application.

    Any links to fathom as to what really went wrong?

    Something has seriously gone wrong somewhere since the IDF could thrash every time Arab armies as a whole and this time the rag tag Hizbollah has held them for 30 days. It is most surprising given that the tanks were said to be amongst the world best and the soldiers motivated since it was a fight for the very existence of Israel.

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    Default 30 Tanks Wiped Out in Lebanon

    30 Tanks Wiped Out in Lebanon
    12:01 Aug 11, '06 / 17 Av 5766

    (IsraelNN.com) IDF officials admit that the biggest surprise of the ongoing war against Hizbullah is the ease by which terrorists have destroyed IDF tanks.

    At least 30 tanks have been totally destroyed or seriously damaged in bomb and anti-tank rocket attacks involving state-of-the-art Russian anti-tank rockets.

    About one-half of the military personnel killed in southern Lebanon were inside tanks.

    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/news.php3?id=109793
    This conflict has not gone as was usual in an Arab Israeli war.

    I wonder what could be the reason.

    Is it because of the state of art anti tank rocket? I believe RPG 29S was used.

    Is it because of poor tactics?

    Or, is it because the Hizbs were ingenuous in their tactics and use of weapons?

    Poor political leadership and decision making?

    Poor generalship?

    IDF actually being ill equipped but nonetheless launched?

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    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default Good Points Ray...

    ... and while many are still digesting the "lessons learned Ė or unlearned" (and will be for some time) one reason might be the "operational pause" the IDF took south of the Litani River as the political leadership decided that international pressure to end Israel's Lebanon incursion was too great to bear.

    Mechanized forces need to be "on-the-move" to be effective and are most effective in the conduct of "major combat operations." From first impressions the IDF faced more of a hybrid threat - heavy on the asymmetric with a sprinkling of conventional and reinforced with IO - and aided and abetted by a sympathetic and often supportive mainstream news media.

    This is just my initial gut-reaction - as more information becomes available I am sure many reasons will emerge.

    Other first impressions include an IDF over-reliance on air and lack of appreciation for the asymmetrical fight Hezbollah brought to bear - to include Hezbollah's (and by extension Iran's) use of IO - or "soft power" as referenced on another thread.

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    I doubt the RPG29 was the wonder weapon due to limited accuracy; guided missiles seem to be a more likely culprit. Even older missiles can deliver fatal shots to tanks from the tops, flank, and rear. If the IDF allowed missile crews to get behind them they would be vulnerable. As SWJED said tanks are designed for on the move fightin. . . with the enemy in front.

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    Default IDF problems

    The point about what missle or what weaponary was used is irrelavent. Israel used conventional weapons to attack a asymetrical problem. Like T.E. Lawerence theorized, you can not kill an idea. Hezbollah is an idea as much as it is an actual entity. If israel had used subtle political manuevering to poision the water around lebonon, by having Sunni opinion kill Iranian and Syrian imput, then they could have looked to strangle the hezbollah forces in southern lebonon. Instead they brought sympathy for hezbollah and the Lebonese people and killed any chance of accomplishing what they set out to do. So instead of asking what killed israeli tanks, we should ask why they used tanks or why they used planes. Maybe well placed acts of violence could have worked just as well. As with Iraq if their is a technology out there, it will have a counter measure and a why to beat it. The fact that it happens is rather pointless, it just means you have to find something else. I guess if any thing can be learned from this action is that israel could not control the battle space as we are having a hard time doing in our current operations.

    Further, its good to still see good post and comments, didn't get much of that with the hooahs in benning.

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    Default systematic

    Ray,

    I respectfully disagree with your arguments. First, I didn't think the jest of the article was that Israel's failure was due to logistical shortfalls, but rather that the IDF has serious systematic problems, logistics being the most visible. Second, poor kitting and inadequate training "are" the reasons for many army's failures. Note the U.S. Army's experience during the initial phase of the Korean War. Obviously the tactics were far from ideal, but not so surprising from a defense force that can't get the essentials correct: kitting and training.

    Bill

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    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    I spent 18 months in the OPFOR at JRTC and my experience is that tanks tend to be very poor at fighting infantry, particularly infantry that isn't intent on staying still and providing an easy target. I have never been armor but it seems to me they get tunnel vision. A trick that I saw used effectively was to have a few OPFOR fire a few shot at the tank to get his attention and then run behind some cover. The tank would then follow and chase the dismounted OPFOR, right across the front of a T-62. Head to head an M1 is going to crush a T-62 every time but if the M1 is busy chasing infantry and not paying attention it tends to even the odds. The Israelis learned some hard lessons about infantry vs. tanks in the Yom Kippur war when they didn't have supporting infantry for their tanks initially. Back then the Egyptians were using the old Saggers which weren't terribly accurate to say the least. My mother has friend who was a tanker in the IDF back then and after one battle they counted something like 15 Sagger guide wires draped across his tank. Fast forward to this conflict with better IDF armor but also better enemy anti-armor and you can see the result. If the MSM reports from the battle are to be believed then at least some of the IDF infantry were poorly equipped, poorly trained etc. In those circumstances there might be a tendency to want to follow the heavily armored tanks rather than the other way around. At the same time an improperly trained tank crew might go into the fight buttoned up which would feel safer but which is much more dangerous because of the loss of SA. I will very interested to see the AARs form this fight. You know AQ et all will be too.

    SFC W

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    Could it simply be that the Israeli army was a) overconfident because they had (some years back) smacked so many Arab armies around and b) rather out of practice when it comes to large-scale operations? They may also be seeing of the problems that can result from an army based on conscription - constant turnover leads to shortfalls in training and can also result in equipment being poorly maintained.

    I also tend to agree that Israel has come to rely too much on airpower. Airpower is a good "sell," since it doesn't put many of your people at risk and does look neat when replayed on television, but it simply isn't the right answer in many situations. It is a great supporting component, but over-reliance on it can lead to problems.

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    Our own armor force learned in Vietnam (and possibly forgot it) that tanks had to operate with crewmen exposed in order to be effective against an enemy that used mainly light infantry. Tank commanders would often engage targets using their override, with the gunner assisting the loader to keep up a high rate of fire. They also mounted extra machineguns on the M-48s, as they learned that suppressive fire was very important. Makeshift gun shields were also very common.

    Armor can be effective in these conflicts, but it often has to change its accustomed role. Failure to do so can be costly.

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    Default Anti tank missiles

    This report says that the Hezzies were using Russian AT-5 Spandral anti tank missiles. The serial numbers on many of these indicate they were in a shipment sold to Syria. Apparently the anti tank missiles were abundant enough to use them as anti personel weapons. Hezballah would usually attack the IDF troops that had "taken cover" in a house. I don't know enough about the terrain in southern Lebanon, but if they could dig in a fighting hole would probably give more protection than a house.

    Hezballah also got Brit night vision equipment that had been sold to the Iranians for a UN drug interdiction program. Indeed, Hezballah may have been better equiped than the Israeli reserve units. A father of several reservist wrote:

    ...

    Five of my sons and sons-in-law fought in this war. Now coming out of Lebanon and surviving some of the bloodiest fighting, they are filled with anger. Their short-term and long-term orders were confused and ever-changing. The emergency stocks for their reserve units were in horrible condition. One reservist special forces unit lacked basic communications equipment, they were provided guns that they had never trained on, and their rushed training was done in conditions unlike anything they would see in Lebanon.

    ...

    Over the course of the war soldiers were held back for weeks when they were ready to charge. When they were finally dispatched, they were given unachievable missions in impossible time constraints. Soldiers were sent on daytime missions that should have been carried out only under the cover of darkness. Some died as a result.

    ...
    Reports like this suggest that the cease fire actually help Israel much more than was believed at the time.
    Last edited by Merv Benson; 08-21-2006 at 09:19 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore
    Ray,

    I respectfully disagree with your arguments. First, I didn't think the jest of the article was that Israel's failure was due to logistical shortfalls, but rather that the IDF has serious systematic problems, logistics being the most visible. Second, poor kitting and inadequate training "are" the reasons for many army's failures. Note the U.S. Army's experience during the initial phase of the Korean War. Obviously the tactics were far from ideal, but not so surprising from a defense force that can't get the essentials correct: kitting and training.

    Bill
    Bill,

    I fully agree with what you have stated.

    I only wanted to state that one goes to war after taking all issues into consideration, weighing it against the enemy's capabilities and tactics, and being sure of an even chance of success. If war is thrust on you, then it is a different matter. In this case, the IDF had the initiative and launched the offensive.

    Thereafter, once in the fray, one must take the results of the events for what it is worth and not trot out 'excuses' (for the want of a better word).

    The IDF should have realised that the IDF was not well equipped, trained or whatever, to take on this campaign. Now, to state so as a reason, does not really cut ice. There will be failures in war or in life. One must squarely face up to them and not lament or find issues as "scapegoats".

    In 3O days, 30 Merkavas have been lost as per an Israeli newspaper. That is a lot if one considers the rag tag Hizbs. It is obvious that the Hizb tactics paid rich dividends. It is surprising that the Israelis did not find out about the Hizb tactics, when one is marvelled by the Israeli capability to be able to, with pinpoint accuracy, shoot down terrorist leaders on the move in a car or when strolling in gthe streets as in the Gaza strip! I wonder if any intelligence agency can equal that!

    Therefore, the IDF in Lebanon is quite a disappointment, apart from being a hue surprise for me. It is like a National team losing a football match to local club!

    Hence, it is important to know what are the lessons learnt and rectify the same rather than breast beat, if I may say so.
    Last edited by Ray; 08-21-2006 at 06:15 PM.

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    Thank you all.

    One is aware of Infantry - tank equations and mechanised warfare as I was fortunate to experience the same in the conventional combat format. I could not agree more with the comments made by you all. Indeed, 'buttoning up' by tankmen is asking for trouble in such an environment. One of the safer ways is to be in the 'infantry leading' mode and tanks in support, especially in close country or in the urban scenario. I am not too sure as to what type of terrain the IDF confronted when these tanks were killed and so my comments are not to denigrate or suggest modes. They are mere conjectures.

    The Hizb tactics sort of tickles my curiosity.

    I am very keen to know more of the Hizb tactics since it will be used extensively elsewhere as it has become somewhat of a benchmark of success for those who wish to indulge in asymmetrical warfare.

    Any links or articles available for study?

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