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Old 01-10-2008   #81
Penta
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I'm going to disagree, Matt.

I think Hezbollah can be destroyed militarily. However, it makes a difference who makes the attempt.

Unless the Lebanese Armed Forces are the ones to make the attempt, then it doesn't matter.

Reality is, so far as I can tell...Hezbollah is not even remotely subject to the authority of the de jure government of Lebanon.

Until Hezbollah is brought under Beirut's control, and the whole of Lebanese territory is actively under the sovereignty of the government in Beirut, then the situation won't change much.

Now, can the AFL do that? I don't know. At the moment, not by my estimation. Ever? I have no idea.

But until that occurs - it can't be a co-option, IMHO; it really has to be "Beirut asserts authority, takes all measures to back up that assertion when Hezbollah tells them to go away, and wins" - nothing is going to change.
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Old 02-14-2008   #82
Rex Brynen
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Default U.S. learns from Israel-Hezbollah war

U.S. learns from Israel-Hezbollah war
USA Today, 14 February 2008

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WASHINGTON Senior Pentagon officials are using a classified Army study on the 2006 war between Israel and the militant group Hezbollah to retool the U.S. military's combat strategy for future wars.
Incidentally, if anyone has access to the unclassified version mentioned in the news report (or a non-NOFORNed other version), could they PM me?
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Old 02-14-2008   #83
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U.S. learns from Israel-Hezbollah war
USA Today, 14 February 2008



Incidentally, if anyone has access to the unclassified version mentioned in the news report (or a non-NOFORNed other version), could they PM me?
Ditto.

I wonder if there's any correlation with this and Frank Hoffman's Potomac Institute report on Hybrid Wars, which has Hizbullah as its case study.
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Old 02-14-2008   #84
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Old 02-15-2008   #85
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Excellent example, Tequila--Hizbullah's tactical performance was often outstanding, as was their ability to operate in very small manoeuver units (which also exhibited innovation and leadership by NCOs). There was very little "spray and pray," and a great deal of coordinated ambushing involving multiple weapons systems, interlocking fields of fire, etc (for example, simultaneous ATGM, RPG, and deep-dug IED attacks, followed by LMG and mortar cover fire while AT units relocated or went to ground).
I strongly disagree. I have now interviewed 7 IDF front line infantryman, and am talking to more. None of them rated Hezbollah's combat performance, other than to place IEDs, and conduct ATGM shoots from villages that prevented counter-fire. Hezbollahs defensive mindset in fixed in hiding amongst civilians.

I know of two occasions where Hezbollah's surround IDF platoons and where unable to over run or destroy them, despite outnumbering them, maybe 4:1.I also know of IDF infantry companies continuously involved in combat operations, that took no combat casualties across 30 days. There were losses due to exhaustion and combat fatigue, so these guys were fighting.

There a various sources on the web and in the media, spreading the idea of Hezbollah tactical competence, with the aim of supporting a Hezbollah IO campaign, and thus supporting Hezbollah.

There is a vast difference between operational failure founded on very poor campaign planning resulting in poorly defined missions and actually being defeated at the the tactical level by forces with superior training and ability.

Sorry to say, but I am not yet at liberty to share precise detail, and yes, I am not objective. Hezbollah have as much credence with me as the KKK have with most educated and civilised people.
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Old 02-15-2008   #86
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No one here is arguing that Hizbullah's tactical performance was superior to (or even approached) that of the IDF. The issue, rather, was Hizballah's tactical performance compared to that of other militias in Lebanon (Amal, the PLO in 1982).

I also don't think the discussion has either been influenced by, or serves, Hizballah IO.
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Old 02-15-2008   #87
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No one here is arguing that Hizbullah's tactical performance was superior to (or even approached) that of the IDF. The issue, rather, was Hizballah's tactical performance compared to that of other militias in Lebanon (Amal, the PLO in 1982).

I also don't think the discussion has either been influenced by, or serves, Hizballah IO.
Sorry Rex. Didn't get that, but hey ho. I think we are all on the same side.

REF: The USA Today peice,

Quote:
"It's not just counterinsurgency," said Rickey Smith, of the Army Capabilities Integration Center-Forward Office. "This was a wake-up call to all of us as analysts."

The study by the Center for Army Analysis, which provided an unclassified version to USA TODAY, stresses that guerrillas armed with high-tech equipment can fight a modern military force to a standstill.
Well some analysts must have been sleeping very soundly. The only thing I found surprising was the use of C-802 SSM.

The idea that a bunch guerillas with some nice kit, can fight a competent modern military force to a stand still is ludicrously simplistic, inaccurate and misunderstands the nature of tactical operations.
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- The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
- If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition
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Old 02-15-2008   #88
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The idea that a bunch guerillas with some nice kit, can fight a competent modern military force to a stand still is ludicrously simplistic, inaccurate and misunderstands the nature of tactical operations.
But it does allow someone to argue to the otherwise militarily naive holders of the purse strings that the services need a lot more money to buy a lot more sophisticated materiel to be able to keep those guerrillas from succeeding in a stand up conventional fight.
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Old 02-15-2008   #89
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But it does allow someone to argue to the otherwise militarily naive holders of the purse strings that the services need a lot more money to buy a lot more sophisticated materiel to be able to keep those guerrillas from succeeding in a stand up conventional fight.
"...when proper training and the sensible employment of existing equipment will suffice?"

I concur.
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- The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
- If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition
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Old 02-15-2008   #90
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Default what is missing

What is missing in the analysis is a study of the nature of the fight, meaning defensive. The Hizbullah forces built a defensive position, a defense in depth if you will, that was attacked by the IDF. They used their suit of weaponry, some very good weapons-IED, Kornet etc to good effect in a defensive campaign. What would make Hizbullah truly dangerous would be if they could develop these tatics into an offensive capability.

As a historical reference the development of stormtroop tactics in WWI moved along the same lines. They started as defensive-local counter attacks and advanced to large scale offensive capable units, capitalizing upon new technology in arms. If the Hizbullah created an offensive capacity-one that could penetrate IDF defenses and enter Israel itself then they would have done something truly evolutionary. (note I said evolutionary not revolutionary as this is a natural progression of weapons-tactics-and technology).

A sizable armed force organized in small groups capable of infiltration and penetration, armed with mobile anti-tank weapons, shoulder launched anti-aircraft weapons, and preceded by a wave of suicide bombers (vehicle and foot) could make a serious impact. Ultimate success however would be questionable as the sustainability would be in question. Holding the ground gained and resupply would be difficult.

The actions of the VC and NVA in Tet could be looked at as a reference for the offensive capability of well armed infiltration forces.

I bring this up because like many of you I don't see any real radical change here. I certaintly dont like the Gen Scales response from the USA today article: more US infantry riding to battle in vehicles that can withstand roadside bombs... While these vehicles are important the focus should be on the training of the individual soldiers and Marines and developing tactics to defeat the hunter killer teams without blundering along roads waiting to be blown up. We can do better than that form of movement to contact.
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Old 02-16-2008   #91
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TROUFION, you've been reading some of our minds here, haven't you? Advance/Movement to Contact, as it is usually practiced, amounts to little more than a slaughter waiting to happen. While I share Wilf's skepticism regarding some of the claims regarding Hizbullah's tactical competence (especially given the tactical problems that the IDF had in its own forces), perhaps some of the tactical accomplishments, or at least concepts, that are attributed to Hizbullah in the summer of 2006 may be usefully taken into consideration as our tactics are (hopefully) reformed into something much more effective, and less costly in lives.

It really says something about our present tactical concepts and doctrine when we have to look all the way back to WWI German Stormtroopers for cutting-edge ideas about how to change out tactics for the better. Kind of twisted.
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Old 02-16-2008   #92
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I bring this up because like many of you I don't see any real radical change here. I certaintly dont like the Gen Scales response from the USA today article: more US infantry riding to battle in vehicles that can withstand roadside bombs... While these vehicles are important the focus should be on the training of the individual soldiers and Marines and developing tactics to defeat the hunter killer teams without blundering along roads waiting to be blown up. We can do better than that form of movement to contact.
You are right that there is no change. What Hezbollah tried to do would have been comprehensible to any WW1 officer.
Where the WW1 officer would have problems is not using 10,000 guns per 50km to flatten every village the enemy occupied.

The vast majority of Hezbollah's tactical concepts are founded on working from within a civilian population. Not something we would ever do.

Stormtroopers could only really ever work on the Western front, once vast amounts of artillery could provide suppression and fog could mask their movement. Huge numbers of Stormtroopers died during Operation Michael when they tried to operate without supporting fires and in daylight or good weather.

Combined Arms still rules supreme, against any opponent.
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- The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
- If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition
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Old 02-16-2008   #93
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Default How are we evaluating this?

The IDF failed in their recent fiasco into Lebanon, so all the chest thumping about how the IDF can defeat Hezbollah in combat is somewhat comical. I guess the caveat was if the IDF had a better plan they would have won, because they can fight better.

By most accounts the IDF's active duty forces did superbly, but several of their reservists didn't fare so well in tough urban combat. That is probably true for most nations, you have the A-Team and then a distant C-Team that normally requires a fair amount of time to knock the dust off of it after they mobilize to be combat ready.

The fact remains that irregulars achieved their goal, and just as in Vietnam it doesn't necessarily matter who actually wins the individual battles. This conventional mindset still blinds our military to the reality that in irregular warfare the fight is to shape the perceptions of the population (and other target audiences), not destroy the opposing military forces, because they know they can't.

We need to evaluate how the Hezbollah utilized tactical operations to defeat Israel in the last campaign, not how they used tactical operations to defeat the IDF, because they didn't, but then once again that wasn't the point.

We have this habit of saying we kicked their butt based on metrics that simply are not important, when we're actually getting our butt handed to us if you look at the metrics that count.
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Old 02-16-2008   #94
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working from within a civilian population. Not something we would ever do.
Depends upon who you mean by we and whether disguising soldiers as civilians counts as "working from within a civilian population."

The team attacking the target was mostly based on Sayeret Matkal commandos, led by then unit-commander Ehud Barak. (Barak later became Prime Minister). The team approached the buildings disguised as civilians and couples (Barak was disguised as a brunette).

From the Jewish virtual library: "When they approached their target they got out of the cars and began walking like lovers, as they had planned."
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Old 02-16-2008   #95
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Depends upon who you mean by we and whether disguising soldiers as civilians counts as "working from within a civilian population."
I was wondering when the discussion would get around to this. Some of you might be interested, if not surprised, to know that legal research has been working on those sticky gray operational areas where recce, SF, and intelligence takes on shapes and forms that are difficult to distinguish, at least in appearance, from guerrilla/insurgent/terrorist tactics. Issues of network embeddedness and the legitimacy thresholds they imply (one man's terrorist, etc.), are being revisited and deliberated with a view to better understanding how the Laws of Armed Conflict, designed for the linear battlespaces of old, can be reconciled with non-linear conflict environments like those inhabited by Hizbullah, AQ, etc.

For starters, take a look at the New Battlefields, Old Laws (NBOL) project. It's a joint research initiative of the Institute for National Security and Counter-Terrorism (INSCT) at Syracuse University, and the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) at the Interdisciplinary Centre Herzliya in Israel. Workshops have included discussion of scenarios just like the one cited in the last post, except they happened a bit more recently. More interestingly, scenario writers were very young Israeli Masters students who'd been faced with those very situations during their 2006 summer break, spent fighting in Lebanon.
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Old 02-16-2008   #96
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Military deception is as old as warfare. Inadvertently placing civilians in danger due to combat exigencies is also an unhappy circumstance of long standing. So too is deliberate use of civilians as shields an ancient practice -- but they are three very different things.

Lawyers and wordsmiths may parse the three to their hearts content to get accord -- because that's what lawyers and wordsmiths do. Fortunately, most of us can safely ignore both.

I know of no western nation or armed force that allows, much less espouses the use of civilians as shields. If anyone here knows of one that does, I'd like to hear about it -- and I am NOT talking about aberrations where some Commander locally gets or got stupid.

Anyone who conflates the three very different things to make a political point simply isn't thinking well.
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Old 02-16-2008   #97
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Military deception is as old as warfare. Inadvertently placing civilians in danger due to combat exigencies is also an unhappy circumstance of long standing. So too is deliberate use of civilians as shields an ancient practice -- but they are three very different things.

Lawyers and wordsmiths may parse the three to their hearts content to get accord -- because that's what lawyers and wordsmiths do. Fortunately, most of us can safely ignore both.

I know of no western nation or armed force that allows, much less espouses the use of civilians as shields. If anyone here knows of one that does, I'd like to hear about it -- and I am NOT talking about aberrations where some Commander locally gets or got stupid.

Anyone who conflates the three very different things to make a political point simply isn't thinking well.
Ken, use of civilian shields is only part of the picture when it comes to concealment warfare. What the legal research is attempting is important in this regard, I think, precisely because of some of the political points that have been made, and because many of the issues they have engendered have been poorly understood, poorly defined, and poorly operationalized.

One of the more difficult aspects of dealing with armed groups that deliberately embed themselves among non-combatant demographics and assets, is that forces that do abide by the laws of armed conflict are forced into situations that don't fit neatly into the laws means to govern military confrontation. Some of those situations require precision knowledge of law - boiling it down to local stupidity suggests an unfair mastery of subjects that not even the politicians and the lawyers have figured out. Elaborating and explaining the body of laws that governs such situations, in a way that reconciles it with the complexities of 4th Gen/compound/unrestricted/hybrid war, can only help forces comply with LOAC.

Another challenge is establishing legitimacy thresholds: laws of armed conflict aren't just designed for one side on the battlefield. How does this work in "asymmetric" conflict? How do you incentivize non-state armed groups to play by the rules? What are the behavioral criteria for ensuring one's own group members remain legally entitled to and protected by LOAC protection, when one's group has resorted to terrorist tactics?

The answers to these questions may seem fairly obvious to most of us. To my mind, the link directly to evolutionary aspects of insurgent and terrorist organizations, and from there to political decisions on when to engage/dialogue with "terrorists".

The reason any of these, which have ample historical precedent, are being revisited now is precisely because: 1) politics has kicked crap out of what's meant by law in/of war; and 2) the shape and conduct of war today is entirely different from what it was when the LOAC were originally designed.

Thoughts?
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Old 02-16-2008   #98
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We have this habit of saying we kicked their butt based on metrics that simply are not important, when we're actually getting our butt handed to us if you look at the metrics that count.
Global Scout,

I am working on and thinking about metrics these days and would appreciate your insights (and the rest of this august company for that matter) as to 'the metrics that count'.

My general impression of of Hezbollah is that of Iranian trained and backed units that live and marry into local Lebanese community and who are, as result, able to tie in using geographically calibrated (ie local) CA, PSYOP, and SF capabilities as required. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hezbollah

I have been thinking about the November-December 07 Special Warfare article on "Can Militias be Used Effectively" (along with the associated footnotes) and trying to overlay this with the Iran-Hezbollah relationship metrics-wise. http://www.rand.org/publications/ran...03/burden.html
http://www.foreignaffairs.org/200509...n-in-iraq.html

Some of my musings are about Hezbollah force ratios and strategy as related to the civilian population and if we can/should use some of their successful tactics in Iraq.

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Old 02-16-2008   #99
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And a war were Ken served.


But the AP found in researching declassified Army documents that U.S. commanders also issued standing orders to shoot civilians along the warfront to guard against North Korean soldiers disguised in the white clothes of Korean peasants.


Were the North Koreans moral or immoral: justified or unjustified?

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if we can/should use some of their successful tactics in Iraq.
Which specific tactics are you thinking about?
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Old 02-17-2008   #100
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Default Market Metrics & Associated Tactics

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Which specific tactics are you thinking about?
R.A.,

This quote from the Krepinevich article I referenced above sticks in my head....and I believe we can substitute Hezbollah/Hizbollah for Iraqi.

"Then there are "market metrics." Insurgents have exploited both the unemployed and criminals in seeking support. They often pay Iraqis to plant IEDs and declare bounties for the killing of government officials. Such measures indicate that the insurgency is struggling to expand its ranks and must buy support. It would be helpful to keep track of the "market" in this aspect of the conflict. What are the insurgents offering to those who will plant an IED? What kind of bounty are they placing on the lives of their enemies, and how does that price change over time? The assumption behind these market metrics is that the higher the insurgents' price, the fewer people there are who are willing to support them. Such a reduction in support could indicate success on the part of the coalition and the Iraqi government in improving security, reducing unemployment, and strengthening the popular commitment to the new regime, all of which would leave fewer people vulnerable to persuasion or coercion by the insurgents."

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