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Lebanon Redux 2

by DoDo Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 07:35:41 AM EST

Like in the first part, I'm going to explore two issues. This time, I'll focus on the ground war:

  1. What was the actual scope of the IDF's ground campaign?
  2. How was resistance organised?

Some interesting conclusions can be drawn that are different from the received wisdom in most of the media.

Update [2006-8-25 5:14:6 by DoDo]: I added a sentence on Christian areas in the explanation of the first map, and to the arguments on the differing Hezbollah+allied casualty counts.

Update [2006-8-27 16:44:30 by DoDo]: Some new additions: update on the IDF occupation, and the IDF's supply problems.


The actual scope of the IDF's ground campaign

The big picture put forth in the news media was:

  1. the IDF conquered area a few miles behind the front in the first three weeks with 10,000 troops;
  2. then from the adoption of UN SC 1701 on Friday, 11 August until the ceasefire in the morning of 14 August, 30,000 troops made a big push for the Litani river 30 km to the North;
  3. then those troops began a slow withdrawal, drawing their feet demanding UNIFIL deployment.

But checking STRATFOR daily report maps and checking dozens of news reports of what happened in various locations against a map, a different picture emerges. First take a look at this map I drew of areas in which the IDF operated, with red arrows showing the movement of main troop contingents:

The first thing you notice that that big push for the Litani didn't result in much territorial gain. In fact, gains are even less impressive considering Christian areas: Marjajoun in the North, the border regions from where the larger of the two pushes for the Mediterranean started, and the unoccupied parts Southwest of Bent Jbeil.

The second thing to notice is that the IDF went around "difficult places" (in fact leaving pockets of resistance in most villages not drawn on the map), advancing in open terrain. There was a certain reluctance for using infantry:

The Israelis prefer to stay away from those bunkers, the soldiers said, instead calling in coordinates so forces massed behind the border can hit them with guided missiles.

What the map doesn't show is that the IDF has not even held the territories drawn in: troops withdrew after a day's fight and came back later, or units hunkered down isolated on hilltops. Thus when a Guardian reporter travelled the border a week before the ceasefire, he saw:

...few signs of an Israeli presence, let alone success. People in only one village had seen Israeli troops recently. Elsewhere, there was evidence of Israeli failures: burnt-out or crippled tanks...

Driving east through Aalma ech Chaab and Dhaira, reporters could see clusters of antennae and army huts on the Israeli side of the border but no sign of any incursion.

That troops were sometimes hunkered down in isolated spots may explain the supply problem:

"If our fighters deep in Lebanese territory are left without food our water, I believe they can break into local Lebanese stores to solve that problem," Brigadier General Avi Mizrahi, the head of the Israel Defense Forces logistics branch, said Monday.

Mizrahi's comments followed complaints by IDF soldiers regarding the lack of food on the front lines.

[UPDATE 27 August] Even more clearly, according to a Times article:

“We had no fresh water as it was too dangerous to ship it to us,” Moshe added. “I’m ashamed to admit we had to drink water from the canteens of dead Hezbollah, and break into local shops for food.”

Now look again at the map, at the troop movements! It is quite apparent that the four thrusts in the South weren't broad advances for the Litani, but were aimed to cut off significant Hezbollah holdouts: the two large towns the IDF failed to take (Bint Jbeil and Aita al-Shaab), and the two areas in the East from where Hezbollah maintained its rocket terror bombing of Israel:

The Israeli military has saturation air coverage over southern Lebanon... Yet Hezbollah squads are still firing dozens of rockets a day into Israel from locations lying just a few hundred yards from the border and within full view of the Israeli military.

One such position lies between the villages of Naqoura and Alma al-Shaab. The rocky, uninhabited hillside and deep ravine of 12 square miles is covered in a dense undergrowth of juniper bushes and scrub oak where Hezbollah over the past three years has established an unseen, but clearly formidable, military infrastructure of weapons depots, tunnels and bunkers.

So it appears that the IDF's strategy was to isolate and cut off pockets of resistance, and destroy those with air power, shelling, and waiting for supplies to run out. And it didn't work. It was the IDF ground troops that found themselves vulnerably exposed. For example, during the last push, in the Northwestern sector, on the hills South of the Litani, this happened:

Just like it did in other battles in the war, Hezbollah had prepared well. The force commander's tank was destroyed by a large mine. Ten other tanks were struck by anti-tank missiles. Some went up in flames. Many of the missiles were fired from the rear, from the direction of the village of Adisiye - an area the IDF had said it controlled two weeks earlier. By early Sunday morning IDF tanks had managed to climb the hill and joined infantry forces fighting Hezbollah men in the villages. Twelve soldiers had died: eight in tanks and four infantry troops.

That this failure was realised can be seen from the withdrawal. Robert Fisk observed:

...last night, scarcely any Israeli armor was to be seen inside Lebanon--just one solitary tank could be glimpsed outside Bint Jbeil and the Israelis had retreated even from the "safe" Christian town of Marjayoun. It is now clear that the 30,000-strong Israeli army reported to be racing north to the Litani river never existed. In fact, it is unlikely that there were yesterday more than 1,000 Israeli soldiers left in all of southern Lebanon...

Indeed checking news reports from villages against the map, I find that notwithstanding belligerent rhetoric about not moving until UNIFIL arrives, the IDF already withdrew in the Northwestern sector within days, and much of the areas in the South within a week. What's more, those left are a small number who seem to be in isolated observer positions. On Monday, DPA found:

Some 200 Israeli troops, backed by armoured vehicles, were seen at nine positions along the border, the sources said.

Combining details in that article and STRATFOR's map, I drew my own map:

[UPDATE 27 August] Towards the end of the second week of ceasefure, the situation remains unchanged:

Israeli troops still occupy nine positions in southern Lebanon...

Israeli troops also continue carrying out nightly incursions in border villages, "taking advantage of respect for the ceasefire from the Lebanese side," the Lebanese military official, who did not want to be named, told AFP Sunday. [Yahoo]

The failure of regular troops is rounded off by the failure of what the MSM started to call "daring commando raids".

The first was the attack on a hospital in Baalbeck, which ended with 26 Lebanese killed (almost all civilians, including a pregnant woman), the hospital flattened, and five civilians kidnapped -- from the story of a sixth left behind, all because one of them shared the name of Hizbollah's leader. Hasan Dib Nasrallah, a grocer in his seventies, and his companions were released on Monday after having been kept on a crammed bus for four days.

Another raid targeted Tyre, and in it ostensibly a rocket launching command centre in an apartment block. IDF and Hezbollah accounts of tactical success differ, but there was no reduction in rocket attacks on Israel.

Then came the ceasefire-breaking raid on Bouday, ostensibly to stop weapons smuggling, something airplanes would be better suited for. Indeed locals think the target was a senior Hezbollah cleric. The Lebanese military uniform wearing commandos' Arabic wasn't perfect, thus they were exposed at a checkpoint, and had to withdraw losing an officer.


How was resistance organised?

The War Nerd wrote an article that highlights the winning weapons, tactical and strategical choices of Hezbollah (if you're interested in this, the Guardian's Ghaith Abdul-Ahad's 'embedded' report with Hezbollah fighters also explains a lot). In the article he says:

an Israeli columnist... said, "If a lightweight boxer fights a heavyweight and gets a draw, the lightweight won." Except I'm not sure it was even a draw. I think Hezbollah flat-out won, not just in PR/Propaganda terms but by anybody's standards. They're in total control of the field of battle... Hezbollah may even have had a smaller casualty count than the IDF

So a militia numbering anything from 1,500 to 10,000 survived or even defeated an army of 30,000, as many write? Not really -- I think such analysis has too simple a view of just who fought against the IDF in South Lebanon. Let's start highlighting this theme with a quote from the second linked article on the foiled Bouday commando raid [italics mine]:

About 10 Hezbollah fighters initially confronted the Israelis, but some 300 townspeople heard the roar of helicopters, grabbed their guns and joined the fight.

"All the sky seemed like a cloud of planes, and all -- not only Hezbollah -- fought. All the people in the village brought their guns to fight. Fifteen year-old boys brought guns," said Suzanne Mazloun, 22, wife of Boudai's mayor, Suleiman Chamas.

Not just Hezbollah? Indeed a 3 August NYT article reported:

For the past week, the Israeli Army has thrown everything at Kfar Kila. ...so far the defenders, local fighters with Hezbollah and allied factions, have held on.

"How could you stay silent when you see your land burn and your children get killed?" said Yahia, who said he was a platoon commander with the local defense force. "The whole population here is resisting."

...He is part of the Amal movement...

Pat Lang wrote on 10 August:

"Even I have been surprised at the tenacity of these groups fighting in the villages," Timur Goksel, who served with UN peacekeepers in southern Lebanon from 1979 to 2003, said. "They have fought far beyond my expectations and they haven't even committed all their fully experienced troops yet." "  London Times

I hear that the Israelis have been engaged so far with "village reserves," and that they have not yet met the standing forces of HA.  This echeloning of categories of forces sounds a lot like the Viet Minh/NVA/VC politico-military set up.

From a Washington Post article:

Some residents said it was not Hezbollah that fired on the Israeli troops in Marjayoun, but operatives of a secular, leftist party whose posters still adorn the sides of buildings and telephone poles across the region.

Angry Arab also reports that Lebanese communists were into the fight too. He also writes:

...the right to resist Israeli occupation. This is the factor that allowed leftists and Arab nationalists in Lebanon--people who don't share the ideology of Hizbullah--to support its resistance in South Lebanon...

This connects to the last article to quote, a detailed account of the siege of Aita al-Shaab. This town is right at the border with Israel, the Hezbollah commando that kidnapped the two IDF soldiers crossed the border nearby. Over 30 days, the IDF launched three major attacks on the town but failed to take it (but didn't fail to reduce 80% of it to rubble). The passages summarizing the essential point:

...The vast majority of the fighters were locals, backed by highly trained and well armed guerrillas drawn from across the country.

Across the south the Israelis discovered that instead of facing a few thousand Hizbollah fighters, they were confronted by tens of thousands of armed men.

This was a popular resistance organised in cooperation with Hizbollah or under its leadership. Locals defended villages, freeing up Hizbollah fighters to take the offensive against the invading Israeli troops.

As other Lebanese organisations declared for the resistance, Hizbollah was able to draw on resources well beyond their ranks...

"The Israelis lost the battle because we all became the resistance," said Ahmed. "The left, the Arab nationalists and the locals all worked under the leadership of Hizbollah for the defence of our town."

So it wasn't a small militia vs. a large army. Hezbollah led a meta-army, which beyond their best-trained troops that used the most potent weapons, involved local militias and people from other political directions. (This is in line with how Hezbollah originally organised itself, binding all levels and branches of Shi'a society regardless of strength of religious conviction.) And apparently all of these forces weren't just deployed in a coordinated way, but got tactical training:

"During the final assault, the Hizbollah fighters took up positions around the community centre while we attempted to tie down the Israelis around Moscow Square. We ducked from house to house, firing then changing position," he said.

"For us it was a last stand - we feared they would trap us in a few houses and then call in bombs on us...

One last military issue is the 'kill ratio'. For a guerilla war, 1:10 is said to be standard. Even if we accept the Israeli estimate of 530 Hezbollah fighters killed, against the IDF's 118 KIA, that would be 1:4.5. However, Hezbollah claims losses of only around 80, with allies adding up to some 100. The Lebanese government itself claimed knowledge of 100 Hezbollah casualties, with allies that's still 1:1 against the IDF.

Part of the discrepancy could be down to the IDF counting wounded on the other side whom they saw falling over as dead (this would mostly account for the difference in IDF and local claims regarding the Tyre and Bouday commando raids). Another part could be explained by Hezbollah and allied groups not counting village militias killed. But for the siege of Aita al-Chaab, the figures claimed by the two sides also differ strongly:

I asked if there was any truth to the Israeli claim that over 50 resistance fighters had been killed in the area. He took me to a wake where we met a group of fighters, some of them wounded, drinking coffee. They all agreed that only eight local fighters had died, and pointed to a small trench that was being dug for graves. There was room for 14 graves - eight for fighters and six for civilians.

What might explain the wide discrepancy (and give credence to a lower figure) could be this claim by Ali:

"We would hold a house until the Israelis called in an air strike - we realised that they always pulled their troops back first, so we knew when it was time to set up new positions. Often their soldiers would seize a street, only for our fighters to appear behind them."

It is quite possible that the IDF assumed such airstrikes killed a number of guerillas, without seeing actual dead bodies.

Display:
Bonus: some recent polls. One from Israel:

Some 15% of Jewish Israelis polled said all Israeli Arabs supported Nasrallah, while 40% claimed that most Israeli Arabs supported him. Some 21% of the respondents said that half of Israeli Arabs supported Nasrallah, and 21% believe that only a small minority of Israeli Arabs supported the Hezbollah leader.

When asked who they supported in the second Lebanon war, 27% of the Israeli Arabs polled said they backed Israel, 18% said they supported Hezbollah and 36% said they did not support either side.

...62% of the Jewish Israeli public would be unwilling to rent an apartment to Arabs, and 35% said they would be willing to do so. Some 56% of those polled said it would bother them if one of their neighbors rented their apartment to an Arab...

...the other from Lebanon:

72% of Lebanese believe that the resistance (a reference to Hizbullah) came out victorious from this war (70.8% of Sunnis; 96.3% of Shi`ites; 62.8% of Druzes; and 59.7% of Christians.

To the question "Was the Israeli war on Lebanon due to the capture of two Israeli soldiers or to a premeditated plan, 84.6% of Lebanese believed it was due to a premeditated plan (81% of Sunnis; 97.2% of Shi`ites; 76.7% of Druzes; and 79.7% of Christians).

25.5% of Lebanese believe in the possibility of "peace with Israel" (21.3% of Sunnis; 1.9% of Shi`ites; 32.6% of Druzes; and 41.9% of Christians.)"



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Aug 24th, 2006 at 12:32:05 PM EST
Another Lebanon poll:

IPSOS (a right-wing polling firm in Lebanon) released the results of a new survey in Lebanon. Among the findings:
  • 65% of all Lebanese believe that Hizbullah emerged stronger from this war, while 14% believe it is weaker;
  • 51% of Lebanese believe that Hizbullah won the war, while 47% believe that nobody won the war, and a mere 2% believe that Israeli won the war ...
  • 91% of Lebanese believe that Israelis are worse off from this war;
  • 44% of Lebanese believe that UNSC 1701 was in the interest of Lebanon and Israel, while 17% believe it is in the interest of Lebanon, and 28% believe that it is in the interest of Israel.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 06:17:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Another angle on the kill ratio might be that the Israelis killed a number of "villagers with guns" which Hezbollah doesn't count as losses because they weren't "signed up members of Hezbollah."

That sounds like I am accusing Hezbollah of callous disregard for villager lives, but it may in fact be as simple as the fact that Hezbollah only had lists of it's own members.

Of course, at the same time, if the IDF repeatedly found itself faced with resistance from the entire population of various villagers, it is perhaps unsurprising that they turned to indiscriminate bombing. If every house has a man and an AK47 in it, then every house looks like a military target when you're on the ground being shot at.

That's not to excuse the indiscriminate action, but perhaps just to remind us all a little bit of how rapidly military action can escalate into large scale war.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Thu Aug 24th, 2006 at 01:10:49 PM EST
Of course, at the same time, if the IDF repeatedly found itself faced with resistance from the entire population of various villagers, it is perhaps unsurprising that they turned to indiscriminate bombing.

Well, entire armed population (say Aita al-Chaab is a town of 10,000). But, while your argument would work if that were the situation, the IDF in fact first bombed and then met surprising levels of resistance on the ground. Major ground operations started a week after the bombing began, and altough I haven't digged up quotes from articles saying so, the mode of operation was to first reduce a village to rubble with artillery before trying to enter it. (For example, you see the advance towards Tebnine at lower center on the maps: the village is in ruins, but it didn't came to ground assault.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Aug 24th, 2006 at 01:31:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On the other hand, it is possible that top IDF commanders were well aware that they'll face widespread and numerous resistance (though not knowing how well-trained and well-armed they are), and planned this village-flattening policy accordingly.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Aug 24th, 2006 at 01:33:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, I know. I was just trying to force myself not to seem too anti-Israeli all the time.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Thu Aug 24th, 2006 at 03:28:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Reducing a built-up area to "rubble" only helps the defenders.  Ruins allow great fire and movement cover and the illogic of ruined buildings, one way streets, and so on confuses the attackers.  The Imperial Germany army used bombed-out villages as strongpoints and centerpins of their defensive lines during World War I with excellent results.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot
by ATinNM on Thu Aug 24th, 2006 at 09:43:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A later famous example was the Battle of Monte Cassino, fought on the ruins of the Abbey.
It seems that modern elite forces engaged in urban warfare imagine a town inside-out. Read Israeli Military Using Post-Structuralism as Operational Theory.
by findmeaDoorIntoSummer on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 02:29:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And the tried to repeat that "success" in Berlin in 1945 with not so excellent results.

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.
by Gjermund E Jansen (gjans1@hotmail.com) on Tue Aug 29th, 2006 at 07:21:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Another angle on the kill ratio might be that the Israelis killed a number of "villagers with guns" which Hezbollah doesn't count as losses because they weren't "signed up members of Hezbollah."

I forgot to add a line on this into the diary, now corrected. The thing is that for Aita al-Chaab, we have a total local resistance figure of 8, vs. the IDF claim of 40, still a 1:5 ratio (vs. the overall 1:7). Now this leads to another question: if the bulk of the fighters weren't Hezbollah proper, how come that apparently Hezbollah's losses are at least half of those claimed on the Lebanese side? I can see two possible reasons beyond Aita al-Chaab not being typical or that cementery shown not representing all losses:

  1. Hezbollah claiming non-affiliated casualties, which is quite possible if they use the rhetoric "martyr of the resistance" instead of "fallen Hezbollah fighter".

  2. The bulk of the forces was 'used' to pin down IDF forces with closing fire from behind cover, and was advised to change positions and instructed on how to awoid airstrikes, while Hezbollah proper fighters with their anti-tank missiles had to fight in exposed open places, or could be hit with their terror-bombing Katyusha launchers.

"...they just told me about my best friend - he was my childhood friend and he was killed four days ago in Maroun al-Ras, he was trying to hit a Merkava [tank] with an RPG when another tank hit him." [Guardian]


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 04:19:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wow, DoDo, impressive work.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Aug 24th, 2006 at 04:09:50 PM EST
Amazing.

By the way, how did you create these maps?  Using PhotoShop/Illustrator?

Out of the Dark Age came the most magnificent thing we have in our society: the recognition that people can have a society without having a state.

by marco on Thu Aug 24th, 2006 at 09:17:28 PM EST
Oh, nothing advanced, in fact very crude... I took a map from the web, put it into Paintbrush, reduced color depth, then drew the borders myself and filled out areas.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 04:46:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The two most astonishing things in this diary for me were:

  1.  The discrepancy between the MSM's apparently far too optimistic portrayal of the IDF's military successes in Lebanon and your analysis.

  2.  The activity of the south Lebanese "meta-army" (as you put it) that supported Hezbollah.

If anything, the second point struck me even more than the first.  Especially this quote:

About 10 Hezbollah fighters initially confronted the Israelis, but some 300 townspeople heard the roar of helicopters, grabbed their guns and joined the fight.

"All the sky seemed like a cloud of planes, and all -- not only Hezbollah -- fought. All the people in the village brought their guns to fight. Fifteen year-old boys brought guns," said Suzanne Mazloun, 22, wife of Boudai's mayor, Suleiman Chamas.

Here I must ask: Could this -- at least partially -- explain the IDF's evident insouciance in bombing civilian areas with apparently little concern for civilian "collateral damage"?

Also, is this "non-fighter meta-army" an innovation, at least in terms of its apparently massive size?  Or have their been precedents for this sort of mobilization of the non-professional masses to support the hardcore "professional" fighters in recent conflicts?

Out of the Dark Age came the most magnificent thing we have in our society: the recognition that people can have a society without having a state.

by marco on Thu Aug 24th, 2006 at 09:31:06 PM EST
Could this -- at least partially -- explain the IDF's evident insouciance in bombing civilian areas with apparently little concern for civilian "collateral damage"?

Further to what I told Metatone, my answer is "quite probably". Let's consider the following things Olmert said:

Israel's offensive in Lebanon has "entirely destroyed" the infrastructure of the Hezbollah guerilla group, Olmert said Wednesday.

"I think Hezbollah has been disarmed by the military operation of Israel to a large degree," he said.

"The infrastructure of Hezbollah has been entirely destroyed. More than 700... command positions of Hezbollah were entirely wiped out by the Israeli army. All the population which is the power base of the Hezbollah in Lebanon was displaced," he said.

Also, is this "non-fighter meta-army" an innovation, at least in terms of its apparently massive size?

In its size, and in its mobilisation of locals as part-time fighters (which is what I presume you mean by "non-fighter"), I don't think so: I believe several guerilla movements operated similarly, I think for example the Greek partisans against the Nazi occupation was structured thus. I also don't think that a guerilla army configuration that unites several forces which accept one as coordinator and leader is unprecedented. Maybe Marek can tell whether the Polish resistance during WWII fits the bill, the French Resistance also seems a candidate, and so is what we knew as Mahdi Army in April-May and August 2004 (this is probably not well-known here, or even that there was fighting beyond Sadr City and Najaf; but those joining the uprisings in the South then included village and tribal militias, and former/present members of the Marsh Arab Hezbollah). Another example I'll be writing about next Tuesday, on the 62th birthday of its outbreak: the so-called Slovak National Uprising, which was a mayor rebellion against the Naziswhich is regrettably largely forgotten outside Slovakia.

The significance I saw to this "meta-army" configuration was thus not its novelty, but two other things: one that in a way Hezbollah's victory was less impressive, e.g. there was no gross numerical inferiority; the other that Hezbollah managed to form a broad unity in the South, without exploitable internal divisions like among the Palestinians and both between and within their armed groups.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 04:44:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All the population which is the power base of the Hezbollah in Lebanon was displaced
.

Not too subtle that, was it.

In its size, and in its mobilisation of locals as part-time fighters (which is what I presume you mean by "non-fighter"), I don't think so.

Then as someone (was it you?) wrote above, the fact that the IDF really underestimated, or even failed to anticipate this mobilisation, was indeed an incredible intelligence failure.

And yes, "part-time fighters" would be the better term.

the other that Hezbollah managed to form a broad unity in the South, without exploitable internal divisions like among the Palestinians and both between and within their armed groups.

It would be interesting to find out why Hezbollah succeeded in this while the Palestineans have not.

Out of the Dark Age came the most magnificent thing we have in our society: the recognition that people can have a society without having a state.

by marco on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 05:37:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the fact that the IDF really underestimated, or even failed to anticipate this mobilisation, was indeed an incredible intelligence failure.

Someone else said it. But I think they didn't necessarily underestimate the level of mobilisation: maybe they expected scores of easy-to-take-out Kalashnikov-waving fighters running across the street, say like the Mahdi Army in Najaf during the August 2004 US assault, or Palestinian fighters in Gaza or Nablus.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 05:59:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
More than 700... command positions

God damn - how many command positions do you need?

by det on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 06:39:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also, is this "non-fighter meta-army" an innovation, at least in terms of its apparently massive size?
I don't know... It's called a rural population under attack from a foreign force organising itself as a militia.
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
Sound familiar?

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 06:52:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Sound familiar?

Yes, but there are some significant differences.  I'mm to trashed too write right now, but iif you listent ot heis raiidio show you'll see that a well-regulated militia in early United States had a different meaning than the part-time meta-arm of southern Lebanoon:

http://www.wamu.org/programs/dr/06/08/02.php

(click on the second show:  "Saul Cornell: "A Well-Regulated Militia" (Oxford)">)

Out of the Dark Age came the most magnificent thing we have in our society: the recognition that people can have a society without having a state.

by marco on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 12:01:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just being [slightly] flippant.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Aug 30th, 2006 at 08:08:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've been trying to discover the T/O of the Israeli 188th (Barak) armor brigade. What I found is:

* Two Tank Battalions
    * One Mechanized Infantry/Paratrooper Battalion
    * One Battalion of Two Self-Propelled Mortar Batteries
    * Self-Propelled Anti-Tank Company
    * Recee Company

but its from a site I, frankly, do not trust.

Can someone either confirm or correct this?

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Thu Aug 24th, 2006 at 11:28:13 PM EST
Almost too much to comment on.

the IDF's strategy was to isolate and cut off pockets of resistance

This is the classic tactic.  Armour bypasses strong points in order to penetrate into enemy territory.  It is the job of the follow-up units, infantry and artillery, to reduce these strongpoints.  The IDF's problem was they didn't have any follow-up infantry and they lack the necessary artillery assets.  The IDF has gone for ground support aircraft over tube artillery as they have greater mobility.  But the IAF spent their time killing civilians outside of the battlezone and, anyway, aircraft cannot provide the accurate, consistent, fire of artillery necessary to allow infantry to successfully assault entrenched positions.

For the past week, the Israeli Army has thrown everything at Kfar Kila. ...so far the defenders, local fighters with Hezbollah and allied factions, have held on.

If this holds then the reports of Hezbullah "hiding" amongst civilians was wrong.  Those civilians were fighting alongside Hezbullah.  And poof goes another Israeli/US propaganda campaign.

instead of facing a few thousand Hizbollah fighters, they were confronted by tens of thousands of armed men

That is called "Surprise."  It happens in an operational commanders mind as a offshoot of bad intelligence, bad planning, and - most of all - victory disease.

It is quite possible that the IDF assumed ... airstrikes killed a number of guerillas, without seeing actual dead bodies.

Bomb assessment damage is a highly inaccurate intelligence source.  Most of the problems stem from the low rankers doing the assessment will never become high rankers if they keep saying, in effect, "That was pointless" when their bosses are telling each other, and politicans, how ducky wonderful they're doing.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Thu Aug 24th, 2006 at 11:57:00 PM EST
If this holds then the reports of Hezbullah "hiding" amongst civilians was wrong.  Those civilians were fighting alongside Hezbullah.  And poof goes another Israeli/US propaganda campaign.

Which aspect of the Israeli/US propaganda campaign goes poof?

Out of the Dark Age came the most magnificent thing we have in our society: the recognition that people can have a society without having a state.

by marco on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 12:42:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That Hezbullah is a terrorist organization.  

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot
by ATinNM on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 08:49:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From the Guardian link, above:

Hizbullah operates as "a state within the state", with its own hospitals, social organisations and social security system. "But we are also an Islamic resistance movement, an indoctrinated army,"

I don't know what to call, label, Hezbullah but it isn't a terrorist group and it isn't a guerrilla group - guerrillas don't stand and fight.  

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 09:38:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hezbollah hiding behind civilians is not grounds for calling them terrorists, but the kidnapping of civilian's and suicide bombings are.  

Whether Hezbollah hide behind civilian's or not, I believe they do and so does people in the UN (see Jan Egeland's comments), in the fight in Lebanon it shows that civilian's are taking up arms against military units something, which is clearly a violation of the Geneva Convention stating that all combatants including guerrilla forces, even civilians, have to wear recognizable and distinctive signs from a distance.  Even so my personal opinion is that Hezbollah has got a large amount of civilian supporters in the south, which has been supplied with weapons and is ready to fight on a relative short notice in direct violation of the Geneva Convention.

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.

by Gjermund E Jansen (gjans1@hotmail.com) on Tue Aug 29th, 2006 at 07:18:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know that the "propaganda campaign" goes poof. It takes a very severe lack of self-reflection to think that anyone would simply stand by while their homes, lands, families, etc were destroyed. Anyone who buys that argument (outside of government / military officials and maybe academics who can afford to live in another universe) is likely very pro-Israel to begin with. Rather than a propaganda campaign I think I'd call it "reassuring the believers."

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 03:38:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I give out information.

You advertise.

They spread propaganda.

;-)

The one-sided barrage of 'news' (sic) here in the US was propaganda.  There was no attempt at dispassionate analysis.  There was no attempt to put the conflict in its historical context.  There was a serious, on-going, effort to keep the American public thinking Israeli's 'stuff' don't stink.

Thought experiment:  Try to imagine an American 'news' (sic) organization reporting from Lebanon the way Richard R. Murrow reported from London during the Blitz.


Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 09:49:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course it's propaganda, my claim is that on the particular point you brought up, and not the overall media campaign, it doesn't operate as such due to the reasons I mentioned. Thus there is nothing to "bite the dust." Misinformation rarely dies because it is proven wrong.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 12:23:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I second that.

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.
by Gjermund E Jansen (gjans1@hotmail.com) on Tue Aug 29th, 2006 at 07:01:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It takes a very severe lack of self-reflection to think that anyone would simply stand by while their homes, lands, families, etc were destroyed.

If you find that missing self-reflection anywhere in the White House or in Olmert's office, be sure to pass on its location to the military planners so they can obliterate it with a precision strike.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 12:34:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This comment from an old fighter is very interesting. Uri Avnery points out a few striking examples supporting the idea that decades of occupation have weakened the IDF.
Notice that Uri Avnery has fought two very different wars. First he struggled for the independence of Israel and later has been a leading member of Gush-Shalom (Peace Bloc, in Hebrew) calling for the peaceful and dignified coexistence of the Israel and Palestinian States.

Excellent work, DoDo. The meta-army concept is quite nice.

by findmeaDoorIntoSummer on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 02:02:27 AM EST
was fantastic. I saw the controversial footage of Israeli paratroopers confused and disappointed about the war.

I will become a patissier, God willing.
by tuasfait on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 02:27:08 AM EST
Could you tell more about that?

BTW, tuasfait, can you point me to a good interactive on-line map of Japan? Something that goes down to a good resolution and doesn't only show roads? Something like what Multimap.com offers for Great Britain? (Of course I'd prefer if place-names would be available in English, but as I guess that's unlikely, just a good zoomable map does it if I can use it in tandem with a US world map.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 04:54:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, I did not know about it, but that MultiMap.com website seems to work pretty well for Japan, too:

http://tinyurl.com/je532

I have been using just use Maps, local.google.com,  MapFan.com, and maps.yahoo.co.jp .

But as these are all in Japanese, I may start using MultiMap too now.

Out of the Dark Age came the most magnificent thing we have in our society: the recognition that people can have a society without having a state.

by marco on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 05:24:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for those links, I will comb through them.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 05:54:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In the footage aired a few days ago, Israeli paratroopers operating in Lebanon appeared exhausted and complained "This war doesn't have any purpose," "Well, artillery can do whatever it wants..." (Accuracy subject to my poor French. Didn't anyone else see that?)

For a map, sorry, I can only find Japanese interactive maps. I often use Google map for its ease.

I will become a patissier, God willing.

by tuasfait on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 09:02:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Great diary, DoDo. Congratulations.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 03:13:32 AM EST
BTW, there is one question I couldn't find an answer for. Maybe someone here can venture a guess:

Why did IDF land incursions extend only until the protrusion of Metulla to the East?

Hezbollah is definitely present further to the East, at Shebaa, they were lobbing rockets at Shebaa Farms from there. And Khiam was another Hezbollah stronghold, but the IDF didn't attempt to encircle it with another incursion from the East, like it happened to Bent Jbeil.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 05:04:19 AM EST
Why did IDF land incursions extend only until the protrusion of Metulla to the East?

I'm not exactly sure what "Metulla" refers to on the map. I heard of a village near Mt Hermon, but I guess you are refering to a region?

I'm assuming for this comment you're asking "Why didn't the IDF go into places like "El Khiam" and "Chebaa" (and the area around and between them, on your map.

  1. Who knows the mind of military planners?

  2. More seriously, they may have had PR reasons (when designing the offensive) to not wish to draw attention to the Shebaa situation. Likewise, the design may have included earlier fears about ground forces too close to Syria bringing unwanted attention from the Syrians.

  3. They really believed bombing was the key and never intended even the level of ground operations they undertook. Thus, obvious (looking at the map) territory maneuvers weren't the issue. That is to say, the ground force attacks were not planned in advance and so occured in an ad hoc manner, depending on where the rockets landing on Israeli towns seemed to be coming from.

  4. Or, if you look at the map of undertaken attacks, it looks a lot like the political imperative was to annex the territory along the line of the Litani. Maybe turn it into a buffer zone or something. If we consider that the Israelis never expected the level of world opinion outcry to reach what it did, then the strategy of annexation makes sense in terms of the offensives undertaken:

a) Strike along the Litani towards the coast, encircling the desired territory.

b) Push troops from the south up toward the Litani.

c) Strike towards Marjayoun to prevent resupply and reserves from Metulla coming to the rescue of resistance south of the Litani.

All this is predicated on the idea that the Israelis thought they would have easier time of it than they did on the ground. And that they estimated they could conduct an operation to "annex" south of the Litani, then hold it for negotiations to turn it into a buffer zone or something.

That's a pile of speculation, but it's hard to draw more out of the limited information available.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 07:10:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Brilliant Diary and Maps, DoDo!

Colonel Lang is currently writing an off-line Lessons Learned on Lebanon for someone, and is soliciting reader input for his paper.

Your maps are the best I've seen to date, and the analysis of events is excellent

Might want to drag everything over to http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2006/08/pete_hoekstra_a.html#comments

and help the colonel out.

"When the abyss stares at me, it wets its pants." Brian Hopkins

by EricC on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 10:32:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not exactly sure what "Metulla" refers to on the map.

Sorry, didn't thought of it and just assumed others' knowledge. Metulla is a medium-szed Israeli town situated right at the Northern end of that protrusion of Israel from which IDF troops moved to Marjayoun.

I'm assuming for this comment you're asking "Why didn't the IDF go into places like "El Khiam" and "Chebaa"

Correct for Shebaa/Chebaa [I guess the two versions are down to English  vs. former colonialist French transliteration], but I see I was unclear regarding Khiam: the IDF did attack it, but only coming from the West, they didn't send another tank column from the East to cut it off. I.e., what they did was a rather senseless attack, unless it was all smoke and mirrors in service of the objective in your point 4 c) (e.g. they didn't meant to take khiam, only to bar through-passage to Kfar Kila [the town overlooked by that Northernmost outpost still in place four days ago] and further).

You call it a piole of speculation, but your points 2 and 4 seem like the explanations I looked for, thanks :-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 06:52:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fantastic piece, DoDo, really impressive work!!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 11:37:04 AM EST
Dodo, impressive!

The most scary passage of the War Nerd article is for me:


Remember, the IDF has instant access to all US military satellite intel, so this means that our tech intel was just as ineffective as Mossad's more traditional infiltration methods. That means Hezbollah, a huge organization with branches in every street in South Beirut and South Lebanon, has a scary effective counterintelligence branch. We all know the CIA is useless, but when Mossad and Shin Beth can't even penetrate the lower levels of a mass movement like Hezbollah, then the world has turned upside down.

For the potential Iran-USA conflict, I recommend a 2002 article by the same War Nerd, "U Sank My Carrier!".

by Laurent GUERBY on Fri Aug 25th, 2006 at 05:32:14 PM EST


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