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Old 02-17-2008   #101
TROUFION
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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.
I added the bold because I think the statement needs to be evaluated. Defeat is an interesting word, true defeat for Israel means no more Israel, but Global Scout states defeat in the campaign, a much more microcosmic defeat. One that could sow the seeds of true defeat if Israel isn't careful.

Irregular forces have throughout history demonstrated an ability to quickly achieve a salient, to make a break through and to defend thick forest or urban areas. They have also proven that they generally lack the sustainment power to press salients-meaning continue attacks into foriegn terrain. On the defense side however they are highly effective and with the local population in support they have long legs and are capable of sustaining their defense against heavy attacks.

What I was getting at (with the reference to the stormtroops) was exactly that defensively they (irregulars) can conduct local counter attacks and prolong a defensive stand so long as a local population can render support. In the offense however they run into serious logistic problems, they are lacking in sustainanbility when attacking into unsupportive terrritory, their ability to live off the land diminishes. The stormtroops of WWI required massive supply and this is one of the reasons they faltered (there are too many reasons to discuss here maybe on a seperate thread).

Why I bring this up is because it comes back to the intent of the operation. The intent of Hezbollahs operation was what? I will give it a simplified answer: to provoke the IDF to attack into thier territory and to give the IDF a black eye, thereby gaining experience fighting the IDF and gaining a lot of support via a strong IO campaign. It hurt Israel, but they recover. It hurt Hezbollah but they too recover. The Arab World still hates Israel, no real substantive change there and Israel still exists again no change.

My question is has something changed? Can an irregular force bring about the defeat of a first rate power, and i mean true defeat, on its own? I do not believe it could not even if they had the perfect IO campaign along with it.

Could an assault by Hezbollah irregulars take down (or initiate the demise) of Israel proper? Possibly yes, If they made serious headway into Israel (like the NVA/VC in Tet) seizing multiple towns in the north and set in like the VC/NVA at Hue City. AND if the bordering Arab states (smelling blood) rushed in to provide them support. AND IF the Palestinians rose up to join the Hezbollah. Then Hezbollah fighters could take out Israel.

BUT the Hezbollah irregulars could not do it on their own. Once they entered Israel the population would be against them and their supply lines would be exposed. If they tried it on their own and no one rushed to thier aid with resupply then they would falter, become isolated, then be hunted and trapped or forced to withdraw. Again they can hurt Israel but on their own they cannot take Israel out.
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Old 02-17-2008   #102
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Default France, Soviet Union, US?

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My question is has something changed? Can an irregular force bring about the defeat of a first rate power, and i mean true defeat, on its own? I do not believe it could not even if they had the perfect IO campaign along with it.
The French, The Soviet, and the US experience in Algeria, Afghanistan, and Afghanistan & Iraq (respectively) are something to reflect upon depending upon how one defines 'true defeat' (failure to achieve strategic objectives).

A Savage War of Peace (ISBN-13 978-1-59017-218-6)
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Old 02-17-2008   #103
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Default true defeat defined....

your nation state no longer exists in the manner it once did, having a new government imposed upon it; or ceases to exist in entirety. Byzantium, Rome, Germany/Japan (WWII), South Vietnam, Nationalist China.

Bottom line the wars you listed are what I define as this: they are Small Wars (this is my own view of what small wars are)--any war where the Nation State, its government and soveriegnty are not at direct risk. Example The US in Iraq. The converse Saddam Hussien's Iraq faced a Big War, a total war, one that ended with the Nation State radically changed against its will and a new Government impossed upon it.
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Old 02-17-2008   #104
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Default Accept your definition, have some questions about your examples...

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your nation state no longer exists in the manner it once did, having a new government imposed upon it; or ceases to exist in entirety. Byzantium, Rome, Germany/Japan (WWII), South Vietnam, Nationalist China.
The Roman and Ottoman Empires seemed to be more of a death by thousand cuts than what Germany & Japan experienced in WWII. None-the-less I do not believe that militias such as Hezbollah or insurgencies such as the Iraqi/Afghani can directly take down a great power according to your definition of "...your nation state no longer exists..."

The Ottoman Centuries (ISBN 0-688-08093-6) Still chipping away at this one...
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Old 02-17-2008   #105
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Default Apples, Pineapples and Potato Pancakes Redux

Mike said:
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"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."
All true -- but does not negate my point that there are three disparate things being discussed.
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"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."
Even more true -- and, again, no contradiction to what I said. The first effect you mention in that quote is very much true and the driver of this sub thread. I realize 'politics' are an ever changing game and the trend is to leftist elements and I further understand that all politics are the art of the possible. The intent of many and of much of that ditzy maeuvering is to eventually outlaw war. I could approve of that with no qualms -- I can also doubt it will happen in any of your lifetimes. In the interim, if war is outlawed, only outlaws will start wars but not only outlaws will be involved in them.

I believe that comment merits some deep thought on the part of the anti-war types...

R.A. said:
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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?"
All war is immoral; period, end of sentence. Everything everyone does in war is thus immoral and anyone who thinks otherwise is deluding themselves.

While they're all immoral, some are necessary. The degree of validity or necessity can vary depending upon viewpoint. Korea was obviously deemed necessary by most of the players at one time or another for one reason or another.

Neither you nor I are in any position to make judgments on the North Korean decision -- we aren't Koreans and our mores are quite different. I've been there four times over a 25 year period and I cannot judge them; the culture is too different.

I will, however, note that I said ""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.""(emphasis added /kw) Having fired into crowds of refugees wherein there were NK troops in 1950 (didn't occur later in the war), I was well aware of that -- and they are far from alone in doing things like that, the Chinese and others have as well. That's why I asked if anyone could identify any western nation who had done that sort of thing -- so your attempt at diversion or obfuscation sorta falls flat...

Good try, though
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Old 02-17-2008   #106
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Default Immoral metrics

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Mike said:
All war is immoral; period, end of sentence. Everything everyone does in war is thus immoral and anyone who thinks otherwise is deluding themselves.

While they're all immoral, some are necessary. The degree of validity or necessity can vary depending upon viewpoint.
Ken,

I go back and forth on this; I have seen some good and some bad but I can say that in general things are more complex than they appear and you do the best that you can do at the time knowing what you know. I suspect I will need a few more years to think about it in order to have a more nuanced understanding.

What were the metric's de jour in Korea and are there any that apply to our situation today looking at things from the COIN viewpoint? What lessons learned can we cull from Hezbollah tactics? What's worth reading on this?

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Old 02-17-2008   #107
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Default Winning and losing metrics

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I added the bold because I think the statement needs to be evaluated. Defeat is an interesting word, true defeat for Israel means no more Israel, but Global Scout states defeat in the campaign, a much more microcosmic defeat. One that could sow the seeds of true defeat if Israel isn't careful.
Again I will argue those who are blinded by the conventional doctrines of war, where victory/defeat is focused almost totally on red and blue forces, instead of the larger strategic picture. One does not need to destroy a nation's armed forces then occupy to defeat it. If an irregular force can coerce/manipulate another nation to behave a way to its liking, then the irregular force wins.

One could argue that irregular forces defeated Spain because the Madrid bombings resulted in a change of government and Spain withdrawing from Iraq. The same is happening Poland now, due to irregular attacks against Polish forces and their Ambassador in Iraq, and soon they will depart.

S. Vietnam could be argued for days, but I think most of us will agree that the focus of the Viet Cong and NVA was not defeating our military, but rather conveying to the U.S. population that they couldn't be defeated, among other things.

Lenin overthrew the Russian government with irregulars? How? He moblized the population, just as Mao did some 20 plus years later.

It is great that our western militaries can't be defeated by irregulars, but the fact remains is despite our might, the irregulars can still manipulate the superpowers.

Here are some questions in regard to Israel's escapade into Lebanon:

1. Do the people in Lebanon support the Hezbollah more or less after the conflict? The fact is it was the Hezbollah who are seen as the heros of the conflict, and even those who didn't support the Hezbollah previously tended to favor them after Israel started destroying Beirut's infrastruture.

2. Who became more isolated in the international community, Hezbollah or Israel? While most the international community will never support Hezbollah, they effectively provoked Israel to take actions that further isolated them internationally, which limits their ability to undertake similiar actions in the future.

Irregular warfare is not about defeating your adversary's military force, that is checkers. It is an attempt to asymmetrically corner him and force him to change his behavior, this is called chess.

Winning and losing can be defined many ways. Ultimately there are forces that would like to see Israel go away, that would be probably be a total victory for them, and I agree I don't think that is feasible in one fatal swoop, but over time Israel can be degraded by these activities, and so can we, Europe and other nations. The answer is not to simply send our military forces in to crush them unless we're willing to break international law and wage total war on a population.

The answer remains elusive, if it was simple we would have implemented it already.
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Old 02-17-2008   #108
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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.
No chest thumping from here. A few too many new names carved on the wall recently for anyone to feel good about what happened.

However, your caveat is correct. Not just a better plan, but ANY plan. Some of the screw ups were unbelievable, and defy comprehension.

I see no problem with defeating the type of defence Hezbollah used. It's pretty simple, and, contrary to popular belief, not that sophisticated. I have a very clear picture of what went wrong, as do a lot of the folks concerned with the operation. The IDFs tactical competence is not an area requiring attention per se, though there are improvements to be made. - and this being said by a man who considers UK tactical doctrine to be stuck in the stone age!
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Old 02-17-2008   #109
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One could argue that irregular forces defeated Spain because the Madrid bombings resulted in a change of government and Spain withdrawing from Iraq. The same is happening Poland now, due to irregular attacks against Polish forces and their Ambassador in Iraq, and soon they will depart.
You can give the irregular force a battlefield victory here if they achieved a strategic aim BUT this is not a true defeat, LOOSING AN ELECTION is not the same as forced regime change, loss of statehood and subjugation. Loosing an election is democracy in action. It is what is done in Nation States. Stable nations hold elections and change politics all the time. The simplest example would be the US loosing a war and having the Constitution and the Government of the US thrown out, replaced with a system and personel of the Victors choosing or of a complete collpase of government.

Now I have never said an irregular force cannot issue a true defeat to a western power just that they would be hard pressed to do it alone. Hence the tie to Hezbollah, they can try to defeat Israel but without outside support they would be unable to do it alone.

As for Byzantium I was speaking more to the final battle of 1452. The completeness of it. Emperor dead capital city taken. Byzantium in any form ceases to exist.

Good debate & good points thanks.
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Old 02-17-2008   #110
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Question Excellent points

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Again I will argue those who are blinded by the conventional doctrines of war, where victory/defeat is focused almost totally on red and blue forces, instead of the larger strategic picture. One does not need to destroy a nation's armed forces then occupy to defeat it. If an irregular force can coerce/manipulate another nation to behave a way to its liking, then the irregular force wins.


The answer remains elusive, if it was simple we would have implemented it already.
It seems to be the hardest lesson for western societies to learn that our perception of win/lose/ or draw really doesn't matter in the larger scheme of things to those countries where we become involved. It is in large part their perceptions and subsequent actions/reactions which truly determine the end outcome.

It is notable that many of the successes throughout history can probably be traced to changes in the metrics which those forces looked to for what success looked like. This is a lesson which we can scarcely afford to miss.

The largest part of understanding the enemy is understanding ourselves and how they (the enemy) / the populace of our prospective countries / and ourselves as fighting forces differ in our approaches / perceptions / and overall intents.

It would seem to me that if I am a commander of irregular forces and that which I sought to achieve gets accomplished I would consider that a successful battle. Winning the war or bringing about the kind of overall change you seek that would involve much more than simply who manages to get in a good punch.

The funny thing about Hezbollah is how little they had to accomplish in order to gain such notoriety among military analysts. You would think the actions of the irregulars who accomplished much larger things such as the ousting of soviet forces would be better brain building material. Especially if you consider that pretty much any time this happened there was major help behind the scenes. Taken in context with current operational environments who is behind the scenes in each area and what are they helping with.

Not in any way trying to say that 2006 wasn't an eye opener but rather that it really shouldn't have been such a surprise considering what we did and do know about third party venders.
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Old 02-17-2008   #111
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Ken,

I go back and forth on this; I have seen some good and some bad but I can say that in general things are more complex than they appear and you do the best that you can do at the time knowing what you know. I suspect I will need a few more years to think about it in order to have a more nuanced understanding.
Things are and one does. Every war is different and we all change as we age and society changes also -- thus I'm not sure anyone will ever get it all sorted out even in their own mind, much less for the variety that is mankind. Nor am I sure that one needs to. For most of us, our instincts work pretty well.
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What were the metric's de jour in Korea and are there any that apply to our situation today looking at things from the COIN viewpoint?...
We were exceedingly fortunate in Korea as the war occurred before the DoD invention of 'metrics.' Thank the gods. The only numbers that counted were tonnages of munitions and chow delivered. The WIA and KIA were acknowledged as a cost of doing business and while they were mourned, briefly, there were no Memorial Services and no particular angst. Life went on, such as it was. New replacements came in every month so there was always a lot of training going on when not actually committed. Everyone was present for duty all day every day and there were no breaks though one did get two three day R&Rs in the Rear (if lucky) and one seven day to Japan (most everyone). Nice, peaceful, fun, little war.

The only significant COIN activity was that conducted against remnants of North Korean Divisions left in the south after Inchon. There were thought to be somewhere between 10 and 20 thousand (an overestimate -- or a lot of 'em went civilian and blended in locally). When 1st Mar Div got back south from the Reservoir, they and the 5th RCT were put to work cleaning them out.

That was done in a little over a month with TTP that probably would not be used today. Basically half the Division put out ambushes at night to enforce the dusk to dawn curfew and anything that moved got killed, the other half went on sweeps during the day and corralled most of them and not too gently. Intel was beyond rudimentary. No real lessons there IMO.
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What lessons learned can we cull from Hezbollah tactics?
That frontal attacks against defended positions are very costly? Don't attack fortified positions with tanks and too few infantry? Don't rely on air power to win anything against a determined enemy on their own ground? Don't attack an enemy that has attained social dominance in an area unless you can defeat him, he'll only emerge stronger? That the West will lose the info battle in the ME because we are not trusted there and will not be for many years if ever? That just as Saddam sucked us in, Hezbollah sucked the Israelis in? That nothing in the ME is as it seems?

Not being snide or snarky, everyone of those is a very serious point.
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What's worth reading on this?
Sorry, I'm unsure what "this" is? Korea? Hezbollah? Morality of war?
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Old 02-17-2008   #112
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In the interim, if war is outlawed, only outlaws will start wars but not only outlaws will be involved in them.
Too true. Very nicely summarized. But it's not as simple a differentiation as you suggest when you write

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does not negate my point that there are three disparate things being discussed.
While I'd agree that as categories of activity they can and should be distinguished, in practice, they quite literally bleed from one into the other - the exigencies of war. That said, this is where distinctions between intent and effect are critical, the former being what distinguishes us from criminals.

On western nations and deliberate use of civilian shields - I may have miscommunicated. I wasn't really looking to engage with the subject, since I don't fundamentally disagree or have anything intelligent to offer on it.
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Old 02-17-2008   #113
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Default Reference points...

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Things are and one does. Every war is different and we all change as we age and society changes also -- thus I'm not sure anyone will ever get it all sorted out even in their own mind, much less for the variety that is mankind. Nor am I sure that one needs to. For most of us, our instincts work pretty well.We were exceedingly fortunate in Korea as the war occurred before the DoD invention of 'metrics.' Thank the gods.
Ken,

I appreciate your insights.

As a young Lieutenant stationed in Vicenza I would occasionally wander the old WWI Battlefield of Asiago. It was above treeline so my breathing was a bit labored but no matter how much ground I covered the plethora of splintered bones, sharp shrapnel, live ordnance, and shattered rock always helped me to think about the true nature of war. Fortunately for me it was also located in a beautiful northern Italian setting so it was always an enjoyable hike.

Books-wise I was looking for some recommendations on Hezbollah and Korea. With regards to Korea, 'Task Force Smith' vignettes for cadets and Hackworth's thoughts about it in his book 'About Face' are pretty much the extent of my reading. I have no Arabic reading skills, but I am very interested in Hezbollah/Hizbullah tactics, in particular their CA stuff...and suspect that some of their tactics are worth understanding and applying to our current situation.

This month's foreign affairs has a painful but interesting article to read about the ME

"Summary: The Bush administration wants to contain Iran by rallying the support of Sunni Arab states and now sees Iran's containment as the heart of its Middle East policy: a way to stabilize Iraq, declaw Hezbollah, and restart the Arab-Israeli peace process. But the strategy is unsound and impractical, and it will probably further destabilize an already volatile region.

Vali Nasr, Professor of International Politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and Adjunct Senior Fellow for the Middle East at the Council on Foreign Relations, is the author of "The Shia Revival: How Conflicts Within Islam Will Shape the Future." Ray Takeyh is a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of "Hidden Iran: Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic."

http://www.foreignaffairs.org/200801...ning-iran.html

Regards,

Steve
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Old 02-17-2008   #114
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Default Defeated - wayback

Having read this thread and it's references to more contempoary conflicts, can I suggest two from the past that illustrate defeat can happen for a first rate power.

The Russian Civil War 1917-1922 (?) led to massive Great Power intervention against the Bolsheviks. For all sorts of reasons each power withdrew and the Bolsheviks / USSR won. Does this rate as a defeat?

The Second Boer War, with a series of defeats for the British forces at the start, then victories and the dispersal of the Boer forces, who then followed a guerilla campaign - which took even more resources and time to end. The Boer guerillas used the support from the rural Boer community to fight on and led to "concentration camps" and many tactics seen in COIN since.

I will now sit back in my armchair.

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Old 02-17-2008   #115
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Default Hezbollah Tactics

SurferBeetle,


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I would occasionally wander the old WWI Battlefield of Asiago. It was above treeline so my breathing was a bit labored but no matter how much ground I covered the plethora of splintered bones, sharp shrapnel, live ordnance, and shattered rock always helped me to think about the true nature of war.
I agree with you as far as this statement goes, but would add the large conventional battles are not the only true reflection on the nature of war. A walk in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Philippines, etc. will also shed light on the true nature of war. It comes in many forms, and war isn't simply about large conventional armies fighting one another. The reason I mention this is because you requested additional reference material on the Korean War (the untouched classic is, "This Kind of War" by TR Fehrenbach). That request led to a brain fart of sorts. TF Smith (there was a lot more to the story than the simplified vignettes covered in our leadership manuals) has been drumed into our minds from the first day we ever read anything about military leadership, so it has the call "no more TF Smiths", and not without good reason, but I now wonder if that was the turning point in our history where we jettisoned our knowledge of irregular warfare and focused almost entirely on conventional warfare? To me that seems to the event that shaped our Army's leadership almost more than any other, and I would bet it influenced GEN Westmoreland's views in Vietnam. I recall a quote by a senior Army officer in Vietnam (I'm sorry I can't cite the source off the top of my head), who said we're not going to destroy our Army for this miserable little war. I think he meant were not going to devolve into irregular warfare tactics and risk another TF Smith in the event we had to fight a "real" war. Just a thought, but I would definitely like to this council's ideas on it.

As for Hezbollah's TTP, I have read numerous outstanding studies on them, but for the civil affairs type focus I highly recommend you read S.W.E.T. and Blood. It was in the NOV/DEC 07 issue of the Armed Forces Journal, but I also found it at this link.

http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-172010720.html
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Old 02-17-2008   #116
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Default A few somewhat disparate thoughts.

Following this thread, I'm starting to find myself a little overwhelmed by some of the different points being made, and their implications. Responding to these with a few somewhat disjointed thoughts of my own, I'll start off by saying that Hizbullah is, in some ways, the archetypal la bete noire of contemporary warfare: it is likely to outlive Al-Qaeda, already has a "state" of its own, effectively, and also unlike AQ, has demonstrated a more or less consistent ability to achieve victory at the Strategic level, against all comers, regular or irregular. Hizbullah rarely, if ever, takes its eyes off the political objective, which of couse is what it's all about. As long as they stick to that, and Israel stumbles a few times at critical moments, ultimate victory may well pass to Hizbullah - whether it is in possession of potent regular forces by then or not.

There is a "recent" precedent for irregular forces utterly defeating and disposing of a regular opponent and state, and an opponent that was a true master of irregular warfare itself at that - Rhodesia. Zanu-PF and the like may have lost the war, may even have lost the free and fair election that immediately followed the end of the war in 1980, but it never took its eyes off the political prize, and in the finest Sunzian tradition, shaped, manipulated, and rode the international and regional political situation, forces, and trends to its own supreme advantage. All they otherwise had to do was to continue to maintain a military/paramilitary threat in being - however ineffective tactically or operationally that was in and of itself.

Hizbullah enjoys many of the same advantages as Zanu-PF did, and for many of the same sorts of reasons - Israel can take little comfort in comparing her own position to that of Rhodesia's. That said, Rhodesia's own military performance, generally superlative as it was, though incapable of winning the war by itself, would have been indispensible to victory in any case even had it been coupled to a successful political strategy. Israel so far has has been able to avoid the international ostracism that doomed Rhodesia, and ultimately, South Africa. But when you are on the strategic defensive as Rhodesia found itself and as Israel finds itself, and the enemy is not only on the strategic offensive, but is principally an irregular enemy at that, there is no substitute for superlative leadership and training at the individual, sub-unit, and minor-unit levels.

Rhodesia found Pseudo-Operations to be particularly effective against its irregular enemies, and much the same sort of approach, provided there was a sustained political will to persevere in their use, might go some way to not only wearing down Hizbullah's military strength, but even eroding its political position as well. Hizbullah has no shortage of other enemies, who might not hesitate to pounce at signs of weakness. Not least the Lebanese Government itself.

Pseudo-Operations have rather about as much in common with espionage as they do with "warfare" per se. I doubt that they are covered under the Geneva Conventions - except by the same provisions regarding spying, and they certainly blur the Law of Armed Conflict, probably beyond usefulness. That is a problem for lawyers and the like however; soldiers do not get too concerned, considering the enemies they fight often do not to observe the Geneva Conventions anyway. Where this becomes a problem is when the civil authorities oppose, equivocate, or lose heart in support of such operations; where there is solid support, such legal niceties may become meaningless. War is like pornography; you may not be able to fully and cleary define it in theory, but you recognize it when you see it. War is war, and an enemy is an enemy, and if you can maintain basic morality whilst engaging in such operations, you're okay; if you run into serious problems there, then you're probably engaging in something that you shouldn't be undertaking in the first place. And that usually goes back to decisions made at the political level, and subsequently the soldiers find themselves in the impossible position of being required to carry out.

The old Colonial Wars observed few, and recognized even fewer, if any, of the legal definitions that existed even then, let alone now. There was little to no distinction made between soldiers performing a deliberate company attack on a guerrilla hideout, or sending a capable individual or small party behind the lines to infiltrate the enemy's territory and spy away, or destroy some hideout, or raid some enemy caravan. Those were operations directed towards the same political end; nowadays we tend to try to formalize, create technical language and categories, make artificial or inappropriate distinctions where they shouldn't exist or at least should not be so hard, and generally get too abstract and ignore the organic nature of these things. Hizbullah doesn't.

Last edited by Norfolk; 02-17-2008 at 06:10 PM.
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Old 02-17-2008   #117
Ken White
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Default Very few things in war

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Innes View Post
Too true. Very nicely summarized. But it's not as simple a differentiation as you suggest when you write
are ever simple -- other than plans which should be so.
Quote:
While I'd agree that as categories of activity they can and should be distinguished, in practice, they quite literally bleed from one into the other - the exigencies of war. That said, this is where distinctions between intent and effect are critical, the former being what distinguishes us from criminals.
The intent does not so bleed in most cases, the effects may in some. Keeps the philosophers and the lawyers employed.

Everyone engaged in a war is criminal to some extent -- and I say that as one who has engaged and would cheerfully do so again. As I noted earlier, all war's immoral, some are necessary...
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Old 02-17-2008   #118
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Default Korea and the American way of war

Steve:

David Halbertsam's new book The Coldest Winter offers some good insights with recent research. So does Clay Blairs The Forgotten War. Both are more detailed than Fehrenbach's classic that Global Scout recommends -- as do I -- This Kind of War. If you want some interesting reading, Ed Evanhoe's Dark Moon talks about US special operations and behind the lines efforts in Korea.

Don't know much about Hezbollah but will send you one document if you'll PM me with an e-mail. BTW, not at all sure I agree with the conclusions in the article you linked. Most of that is IMO biased and speculative.

Global Scout:
Quote:
"...but I now wonder if that was the turning point in our history where we jettisoned our knowledge of irregular warfare and focused almost entirely on conventional warfare? To me that seems to the event that shaped our Army's leadership almost more than any other, and I would bet it influenced GEN Westmoreland's views in Vietnam. I recall a quote by a senior Army officer in Vietnam (I'm sorry I can't cite the source off the top of my head), who said we're not going to destroy our Army for this miserable little war. I think he meant were not going to devolve into irregular warfare tactics and risk another TF Smith in the event we had to fight a "real" war. Just a thought, but I would definitely like to this council's ideas on it."
Having been around before Korea, I'm in strong disagreement with that conjecture. World War I was the turning point. The Army got on the global stage and liked it. There were no irregular warfare commitments by the Army after WW I.

Then along came WW II and the 'big war' syndrome got firmly implanted. Further, since the bulk of the Army served in NW Europe; those that had served there got an extra share of promotions -- to the detriment of those who served in Italy and the Pacific. That was a terrible shame because those who had been in the latter two theaters were used to fighting outnumbered, used to being isolated and developed some innovative tactics -- whereas in NW Europe it became "High Diddle Diddle Right Down the Middle" with MASS -- no tactics to it other than kill 'em all and let god sort 'em out.

The NW Europe Generals with few exceptions led the Army into the big war syndrome and have endeavored to keep it there; their logical heirs, the Heavy Division fans of the Cold War kept the Army there. Even though their attempt with the Weinberger / Powell "doctrines" to force the Nation to do it their way failed miserably, I have little doubt they'll try again -- are trying now, in fact. In my view, that is very short sighted. Dumb, even...

That NW Europe mentality was shown in Korea by Walker and most of the Division Commanders. Couple with MacArthur's pathetic staff, they screwed up Korea. It took Ridgeway (NW Europe but from a very different tradition than the Armor folks) to turn it around and then Van Fleet, a NW Europe guy, who had other experience in Greece, to keep it going.

Edited to add: Korea, BTW, was viewed by the senior leadership of the Army in just as poor a light was later was Viet Nam. Most of 'em hated Korea, Truman and everything to do with it. The majority of the Army commanders there misused heir Armor because they tried to fight a European war in the hills and paddies of NE Asia. We made a lot of mistakes there.

In Viet Nam, Harkins set the course early on; Westmoreland was not an innovator so he just followed Harkins lead. Both were NW Europe alumni. So we tried to fight a land war in Europe in the paddies of SEA. Stupid. Sad thing is, most of the units who were there in 1965-66 knew how to do COIN but were directed to do the search and destroy foolishness instead. Seven long years of dumb tactics. We made a lot of mistakes there, too...

Bruce Palmer Jr. was DepComUSMACV, a Pacific veteran and an innovative thinker -- he was the architect of the the plan Abrams adopted and that led to the success of CORDS. After seven years, we started doing it righ but it was too late politically -- all because the Army blew it going in...

When the Army designed the Pentomic structure in the mid-50s, all the Airborne, Pacific and Italian veterans not only coped with but supported the structure -- the NW Europe types screamed about it -- they weren't flexible enough to adapt. They outnumbered the others so the concept was scrapped in less than ten years. When the entire Army (outside Europe...) started COIN training in 1962, they took to it pretty well and most units got good at it. Those folks went to Viet Nam in 1965-66 and knew what needed to be done. When the Second Team came in in 1967, guess where most of the replacements for Commanders came from...

Nah, Korea didn't do that -- the damage was done long before then and Eurocentric thinking is the culprit.

Last edited by Ken White; 02-18-2008 at 02:44 AM. Reason: Added paragraph
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Old 02-17-2008   #119
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Default Whose strategy in Lebanon

Iran and to some extent Syria supplied Hezballah with beau coup rockets for a purpose beyond responding to a Israeli attack on on Lebanon. Iran wanted the rockets to act as a strategic deterrent against an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. In that regard the war was a spectacular failure for Iran, because the missiles were so ineffective that Israel would have no difficulty making the decision to wipe out the nukes because they are potentially much more dangerous to Israel.

Another remarkable aspect of the Hezballah rocket attacks is that they only hit IDF forces by accident if at all. In other words the rockets were completely ineffective on military targets and were not that effective in hitting population centers that were the likely targets.

Hezballah's defenses in Southern Lebanon were somewhat effective in slowing an Israeli advance, but would have been ineffective against a determined invasion. Israel also demonstrated the ability to operate behind enemy lines and disrupt operations.

Israel's biggest failure was in using combined arms operations. They had an air war and a ground war, but they did little to tie the two together. They would have been much more effective if the ground forces had been used to "fix" enemy hard spots to be knocked out by the IAF.

While Hezballah may claim it won with a draw, Iran should have a different perspective. The IAF attacks in Syria should also have Iran worried.
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Old 02-19-2008   #120
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Default Ken Thanks

Ken,

You put a lot of history in your last vote that I'm not familiar with, or only vaguely familiar with, but I'll get on it when I return from this extended TDY. While WWI may have been the turning point where the Army developed a myoptic focus on big wars, the Army did quite well in Greece immediate after WWII, and they established a constabulary force in post WWII Germany to control the population there and rid the country of the remaining few Nazi true believers who tried to start an insurgency. As you said we got it completely wrong in Vietnam to start with, just as we did in Iraq, which points more to the failure of our officer corp than the politicians, though both were to blame. If it was new territory, then the mistakes we made would be understandable and pardoned, but the mistakes we're making now could have been avoided if we didn't officers who blindly adhere to the war is war mindset. The American people should speak out strongly against incompetence in the Army. Losing our young people in pursuit of national security is a terrible necessity, but losing them to incompetence is not acceptable.
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