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Old 01-05-2008   #41
William F. Owen
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The IDF view COIN as being a normal part of what they do everyday. The foundations of the IDF are in both insurgency and counter-insurgency. In 1948 the IDF had 8 tanks and 3 of those they stole from the British! They wanted to steal more but had no one who could drive tanks!

It was far harder for them to learn Combined Arms Armoured manoeuvre, (and still is) than it was to master guerilla or counter guerilla warfare. The IDF is founded entirely pragmatism. Do what works.

However this pragmatism has to be balanced against acceptable forms of conduct, which is further challenged by facing foes who tend to operate normal moral parameters. -EG: how do you conduct ATGM counter-fire into a village full of civilians?

...and do not be lulled into the simplistic idea that somehow the IDF performance in the August War was because of a lack or operational or tactical skill as a product of over investment in COIN doctrine. The failure of the IDF was purely to do with Effects Based Operations, driven by airpower doctrine.
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Old 01-05-2008   #42
Rex Brynen
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...and do not be lulled into the simplistic idea that somehow the IDF performance in the August War was because of a lack or operational or tactical skill as a product of over investment in COIN doctrine. The failure of the IDF was purely to do with Effects Based Operations, driven by airpower doctrine.
Don't get me wrong--I'm not at all arguing that the IDF lacks operational or tactical skill (although I do think that there were a number of tactical and operational weaknesses evident in 2006). Rather, I'm arguing that tactical and operational successes have not always resulted in strategic success--which, in the end, is the purpose of military force. Indeed, they might mask and ultimately exacerbate shortcomings in fundamental political strategy.

The Israel's failure in 2006 was only partially the consequence of airpower doctrine. A shorter and more closely focused set of air strikes, and/or a limited, successful set-piece ground strike, might have delivered more political and strategic gains. An air/EBO campaign with only a belated and half-hearted ground campaign clearly was a strategic failure. A more substantial ground campaign could have been more successful, but at very high risk (and with good chance of also being a strategic failure).

The IDF's major failure COIN in Lebanon--in 1983-2000, following its impressive conventional and semi-conventional victory in 1982--was not the consequence of a reliance on air power, which played little role. It was a conventional COIN military campaign, in which the IDF won almost every small unit head-to-head engagement against Hizballah and other Lebanese resistance groups, but ultimately withdrew under fire and was therefore seen as having been dealt a defeat. (If you've seen the loss ratios from engagements during this period, you'll also know that Hizballah steadily narrowed the gap.)

In the case of the WBG, although neither would put it in these terms, the disengagement strategy of Sharon, as well as Olmert's current diplomatic position, are in many ways based on the notion that Israel was too good at "operational" occupation/COIN, delayed adopting appropriate diplomatic strategies, and as a consequence has placed itself in a position of grave strategic peril (with Olmert in particular pointing to the demographic and political challenges of ruling over a growing non-Jewish population).
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Old 01-05-2008   #43
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...and do not be lulled into the simplistic idea that somehow the IDF performance in the August War was because of a lack or operational or tactical skill as a product of over investment in COIN doctrine. The failure of the IDF was purely to do with Effects Based Operations, driven by airpower doctrine.
Van Creveld, for one, would argue otherwise.
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Old 01-05-2008   #44
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Default External impact of IDF COIN?

Having watched the transfer of knowledge from Northern Ireland to the mainland UK, for the police primarily, it is interesting to note the similar process from Israel - primarily I suspect from the IDF, not other bodies.

In the UK context and in the public domain is the methods around what we called Op Kratos, the response to suspected suicide bombers and the preparation to shoot to kill. Which came to the fore with the mistaken shooting of the Brazilian Mr Menendez shooting in London, July 2005.

There have been comments elsewhere on the IDF strategy or tactic of eliminating leaders and its adoption beyond Israel.

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Old 01-05-2008   #45
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Van Creveld, for one, would argue otherwise.
...and Ron Tira and many other IDF members would disagree with Van Creveld. My own judgement is based on talking to members of the IDF who were there.

The idea that COIN operations degrades "war fighting" skills is only true if they never existed in the first place or where never practised. 3 Commando Brigade and 5 Brigade managed to fight the Falklands War having all served in Northern Ireland. 5 Brigade had problems because they came off public duties, not lack of knowledge of skills.
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Old 01-05-2008   #46
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@ Rather, I'm arguing that tactical and operational successes have not always resulted in strategic success--which, in the end, is the purpose of military force. Indeed, they might mask and ultimately exacerbate shortcomings in fundamental political strategy.

@ The Israel's failure in 2006 was only partially the consequence of airpower doctrine. A shorter and more closely focused set of air strikes, and/or a limited, successful set-piece ground strike, might have delivered more political and strategic gains.

@ It was a conventional COIN military campaign.

@ In the case of the WBG, although neither would put it in these terms, the disengagement strategy of Sharon, as well as Olmert's current diplomatic position, are in many ways based on the notion that Israel was too good at "operational" occupation/COIN, ....
@ If tactical and operational success cannot gain strategic success, then it's probably something military force cannot solve.

@ Risk is the coin of warfare. Israel's risk-averse strategy gained far less than it should e.g.- failure! Thus Israel's "failure" is a consequence of on an objective that was not achievable by military means.

@ Show me another COIN campaign where a nation has partially occupied another sovereign nation who is in the midst of a civil war, to create a buffer from diverse and competing terrorist organisations, with external sponsorship (Syria and Iran) that that focussed on attacking a regime (Israel) that is not involved in the civil war that they are supposedly party to. The 1970 US invasion of Cambodia is the only thing I can think of that is even close.

@ It was expressly and explicitly put in those terms, and from talking to those I talk to, that is the consensus amongst the informed public in Israel.
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- The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
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Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition
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Old 01-05-2008   #47
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@ Show me another COIN campaign where a nation has partially occupied another sovereign nation who is in the midst of a civil war, to create a buffer from diverse and competing terrorist organisations, with external sponsorship (Syria and Iran) that that focussed on attacking a regime (Israel) that is not involved in the civil war that they are supposedly party to. The 1970 US invasion of Cambodia is the only thing I can think of that is even close
.

Sorry Wilf,

The IDF does not do COIN. They do intimidation based operations. These may be counter-guerrilla counter-terror focused but they are not COIN. They do not seek to gain anyone's support.

Been there and watched it happen up close and personal.

Problems in Lebanon in 2006 have roots going back to 56, 67, and 73. EBO probably did have a dire influence. In the macro sense, the IDF's offensive based strategy has always been based on the idea that they could ultimately intimidate their opponents into quitting. It works in the short term; has distinct issues in the longer term.

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Old 01-05-2008   #48
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.

Sorry Wilf,

The IDF does not do COIN. They do intimidation based operations. These may be counter-guerrilla counter-terror focused but they are not COIN. They do not seek to gain anyone's support.

Been there and watched it happen up close and personal.

Best

Tom
Would you say that COIN has to be based on a hearts-and-minds approach? Isn't "counter-insurgency" simply seeking to defeat the insurgents? What the Russians in Afghanistan or Israelis in the Territories did may have been brutal, and maybe ineffective, but how is it not COIN?
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Old 01-05-2008   #49
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Would you say that COIN has to be based on a hearts-and-minds approach? Isn't "counter-insurgency" simply seeking to defeat the insurgents? What the Russians in Afghanistan or Israelis in the Territories did may have been brutal, and maybe ineffective, but how is it not COIN?
I think its a fair question, whether we define COIN as all military operations aimed against insurgencies, or whether we consider only FM 3-24-type operations to be COIN. I would use the broader definition.

That having been said, Tom points to an important characteristic of IDF operations in Lebanon on the 1980s: they were very much driven by a military security/deterrence/killing the opponent approach, and weren't anything that the modern US or British Army would consider appropriate. The actual, informal ROEs used by the IDF in south Lebanon were very loose indeed, a point that Jim Ron makes in both his academic book and in his op ed account of being an IDF paratrooper. Indeed, I believe that the IDF even shot at Tom on multiple occasions

Practice in the WBG has been rather more constrained for a variety of reasons (including more intense media coverage), and the nature of Israeli operations rather different. No one who has ever seen a checkpoint in operation or been at the back of a collective taxi as young men are hauled out for ID checks would consider it consider it akin to anything the British Army did to the general population in northern Ireland, however (although I'm sure that some elements of the RUC did to Catholics, on occasion--at considerable sectarian cost). Instead, it is all control/occupation, and no hearts-and-minds (which are, frankly, never likely to accept occupation). The few Israeli efforts to preserve, coopt, or cultivate a cooperative Palestinian elite (support for pro-Jordanian notables after 1967, the Village Leagues in the 1980s) were spectacular failures.

Perhaps, therefore, the best distinction is between colonial/foreign occupation-type COIN (where the locals will never really accept the legitimacy of your rule), and support-for-local-authorities type COIN (where a government may indeed be able to win genuine public support).
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Old 01-05-2008   #50
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.

Sorry Wilf,

The IDF does not do COIN. They do intimidation based operations. These may be counter-guerrilla counter-terror focused but they are not COIN. They do not seek to gain anyone's support.
Don't be sorry. You missed my point. The Lebanon was not COIN. It was a straight fighting buffer zone stuff. That was exactly my point.

In the occupied territories it's a different story and I'd submit that definitely qualifies as COIN, at least in the IDF mindset.
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- If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
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Old 01-06-2008   #51
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Default CSI Interview: BG (Ret.) Shimon Naveh

CSI Interview: BG (Ret.) Shimon Naveh
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Old 01-06-2008   #52
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.

In the macro sense, the IDF's offensive based strategy has always been based on the idea that they could ultimately intimidate their opponents into quitting.
How is that not the essence of creating defeat? What other mechanism exists? It worked against for the UK in every war we ever fought, and won.
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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 01-06-2008   #53
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Naveh has accurately characterised Hezbollah, and in a way I would agree with, but the rest of this article is, I suspect, about promoting his agendas - which appear fairly obvious and are in line the gossip doing the rounds in IDF military thought at the moment. EG- How were we so stupid as to buy into "Effects Based Operations?"

The idea that the IDF was "unprepared" - which it obviously was - does not, in my view validate his other opinions.
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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 01-06-2008   #54
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Don't be sorry. You missed my point. The Lebanon was not COIN. It was a straight fighting buffer zone stuff. That was exactly my point.
I'm not entirely sure how one distinguishes between the two. After the failure of quite ambitious Israeli efforts to establish a compliant Lebanese government in 1982-83, they certainly gradually fell back to a buffer zone strategy in south lebanon.

However, that buffer zone strategy involved support for a local political-military ally, the South Lebanese Army. Surely combat operations in aimed at supporting the preservation and power of a local (albeit de facto rather than de jure) administration are COIN operations? It certainly involved everything from counter-guerilla operations to financial aid, engineering assistance, intelligence support, PSYOPS, economic integration strategies (the "Good Fence"), engagement (and intimidation) of community leaders, etc. Indeed, Israel was far more involved in the administrative functioning of south Lebanon than it is in contemporary Gaza (in which case, are the IDF's Gaza operations not COIN either?)

I'm not trying to see how many COIN definitions can dance on the head of a pin here. Rather, it seems to me that there are real challenges in learning lessons (or assessing effectiveness) if we can't be clear what cases count as relevant, or what the criteria for "success" are.
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Old 01-06-2008   #55
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@ I'm not entirely sure how one distinguishes between the two. After the failure of quite ambitious Israeli efforts to establish a compliant Lebanese government in 1982-83, they certainly gradually fell back to a buffer zone strategy in south lebanon. ....

@ I'm not trying to see how many COIN definitions can dance on the head of a pin here. Rather, it seems to me that there are real challenges in learning lessons (or assessing effectiveness) if we can't be clear what cases count as relevant, or what the criteria for "success" are.
I don't think you can. Your final point is exactly right. In my own writing COIN is a word or abbreviation I try and avoid using. I consider it expedient for conversing here, but also intellectually lazy - as I have said many times before, in relation to other bumper sticky definitions that cast about.

The only purpose of the invading and occupying the Lebanon was to make the state of Israel safer from armed aggression. That's it. Fact. It had no other purpose. Call it COIN, call it a better Fence, call it war. In IDF eyes, the desired end state is absolute and not negotiable, and that alone creates pressures and realities that most other armies know absolutely nothing of.
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Old 01-06-2008   #56
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How is that not the essence of creating defeat? What other mechanism exists? It worked against for the UK in every war we ever fought, and won.
Quite simply that the UK and or the US has had the option of disengagement as a course of action. In the case of Israel that option is not there. For years there was the territory for peace option and in some cases--Egypt for one--it worked albeit with a very large US checkbook for both sides.

The difficulty for Israel is that while it can win decisively in a large scale conflict, its options are strictly short term. The longer term solution as in the case of the 82 invasion proved unsustainable as indeed did the longer term occupation of southern Lebanon and the emergence of Hizballah.

So there is Israel's conundrum: decisive defeat ala 67 is very short-lived thing. Longer term solutions are cast in doubt by demographics. I liked the Israeli general's description of hizballah because he keyed on something most outsiders miss. Hizballah is a nationalist organization with a religious charter. That means that it often operates purely in what it sees as Lebanese interests. Where it really constitutes a threat to Israel is in its ability to absorb punishment and remain intact.

As for the West Bank, the IDF does use limited responses but again what is the objective? They have been in the past to sustain Israeli settlements in the territories and limit Palestinian threats toward the settlements and Israel proper. COIN ultimately has an objective of creating or sustaining some sort of government. The IDF has used a one-sided approach to intimidate and undercut Palestinian leadership for decades. To a certain degree that has worked in that the IDF still has the West Bank. On the other hand it faces a much more robust and threatening enemy.

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Old 01-07-2008   #57
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As for the West Bank, the IDF does use limited responses but again what is the objective? They have been in the past to sustain Israeli settlements in the territories and limit Palestinian threats toward the settlements and Israel proper. COIN ultimately has an objective of creating or sustaining some sort of government. The IDF has used a one-sided approach to intimidate and undercut Palestinian leadership for decades. To a certain degree that has worked in that the IDF still has the West Bank. On the other hand it faces a much more robust and threatening enemy.
Territory for peace? Everywhere the IDF withdraws from becomes a base for attacking Israel.

The objective is essentially peace. Easy to say, almost impossible to do, and the goal posts in the occupied territories are pretty fast moving. It's to create an acceptable level of violence, so as other measures can work.

You would be perfectly safe driving around most of the West Bank today, indeed access to most of the West Bank is in no way restricted. Just don't climb over the Road Fence, and slow right down at checkpoint and open your windows.

...undercut the Palestinian Leadership? What Leadership? I agree there is a certain amount of pretty unproductive "divide and rule" but when the leadership is mostly corrupt and ineffective and cannot deliver on an agreement, then what else is there?
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Old 01-07-2008   #58
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most of the West Bank is in no way restricted. Just don't climb over the Road Fence, and slow right down at checkpoint and open your windows.
This is hardly the case: every major Palestinian population center in the West Bank is ringed by checkpoints. Vehicular traffic is so restricted that the norm is to exit the taxi on one side, line up at the barrier, and grab another taxi on the other side (I've done it more times than I care to count). Good are rigorously searched. Access to Jerusalem is barred to most of the West Bank population.

There are Israeli-only roads in the West Bank, largely reserved to Jewish settlers. The local population can't use them. Indeed, in some areas (the Jordan Valley) there are movement and permit systems in place for local residents on all roads.

You'll find extensive information on the scope, nature, and impact of Israeli mobility restrictions in the West Bank at the UN OCHA website. World Bank analysis on the economic and social impact of these restrictions can be found here.
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Old 01-07-2008   #59
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Measured as an effort to facilitate settlement activity, its a success.

"The most pious among them believe that God wants them to have these rocky hills. History has shown that when God becomes involved in politics, guns are brought in while tolerance and compromise are left outside."


What you call failure, is the inevitable result of the most pious getting what they want.
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Old 01-07-2008   #60
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This is hardly the case: every major Palestinian population center in the West Bank is ringed by checkpoints. [/URL].
Sure it is. I also drive around the West Bank, and specifically the Jordan Valley on a regular basis. Sure, Israeli number plates make a huge difference, and there are some areas off limits, but it is not Afghanistan or Iraq (or even Gaza!). If you know what you're doing, and you're there for the right reasons, then you are pretty safe. I feel a heck of a lot safer on the West Bank than I ever did in Algeria or Sierra Leone, during their security problems. There are parts of Thailand and the Philippines I'd stay the hell away from as well.

Yes, I've seen whole families of Arabs, standing in the winter rain, while their car is ripped apart and I read the Marsom Watch reports and I know members of that organisation, so I am in no way suggesting that there are not substantial problems. A lot of what is done is coercive, unjust and even cruel and unnecessary, but a certain amount contributes to security. How much? Give me a crystal ball, and I'll tell you.
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