Tuesday, July 31, 2007
30/07/2007 This study, prepared by researcher Amir Kulick (Institute for National Security Studies – Tel Aviv University), focuses on preparations and combat techniques used by both Hezbollah and the Israeli army during the July war of 2006. In the first part of this study (published by the Al-Akhbar daily in Beirut), the author concentrates on Hezbollah's methodology and the difference between it and the party's military approach in 1993 and 1996. The second part of the study (to be published Tuesday) will focus on Israeli military preparations.
Hezbollah vs. the IDF: The Operational Dimension
By Amir Kulick
"The IDF's Combat Approach vs. Hezbollah
If one were to generalize, one might say that since the War of Independence the IDF has been perceived by Arabs as a maneuvering army, that is, whose military operational doctrine centers on firepower and rapid maneuvers of large forces. And indeed, until the 1990s the major campaigns and operations waged by the IDF (except for the 1969-70 War of Attrition) were based on large scale maneuvers of ground forces.....The air campaign waged by the US in Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War and the campaign waged by NATO member states in Kosovo presented a different model of fighting, which centers on an air campaign. It seems that from this point, the weight the IDF assigned to air and artillery firepower began to shift.....
Hezbollah's Operational Preparation for Lebanon War II
From the end of the 1996 campaign and up to 2006, Hezbollah prepared for the next confrontation. Aided closely by Iran, it based its preparations on several assumptions derived from previous rounds of fighting, as well as from military and political developments of recent years. At the center was the organization's assumption that Israeli society is weak and cannot stomach a large number of casualties. In Hezbollah's eyes, this weakness induced the IDF withdrawal from the Lebanon security zone, and Hassan Nasrallah flaunted this ostensible frailty in his victory speech of May 26, 2000 in the border town of Bint Jbail, soon after the IDF's withdrawal from Lebanon, where he claimed that Israeli society is as weak as a spider web.
On the operational level it seemed that Hezbollah decision-makers grasped that IDF fighting in the future would also be based on massive use of the air force and artillery....
Based on these assumptions (the weakness of Israeli society and the IDF's reliance on a firepower campaign), Hezbollah proceeded with its force buildup. The recent round of fighting demonstrated that the organization's primary operational objective was to wage a war of attrition against Israel's home front. Thus at the center of the organization's combat approach was the need to strike within Israel's borders, as deeply as possible and throughout the fighting, even in the face of massive bombing or ground operations by special forces. On this basis, Hezbollah put in place three or four major fighting formations:
* A short range artillery array relying primarily on Katyusha rockets. This array was to bear the burden of striking within Israel's borders.
* A mid-range artillery formation, set up south of the Litani River. This formation launched most of the rockets that hit deep into Israel (the Haifa area and southward). It included 220 mm Syrian rockets and extended range Katyusha rockets.
* Two additional long range rocket formations (up to 250 km) set up in the area between the Litani and Beirut (seen, for instance, when the air force attacked the Zelzal launcher in Beirut). These two formations were intended as strategic weapons of deterrence to allow Hezbollah to deal blows of varying intensity to Israel's soft underbelly - the area between Haifa and Tel Aviv. Alongside these three or four rocket formations was a ground array created south of the Litani based on underground tunnels and bunkers, explosives-ridden areas, and anti-tank units. This array was intended to confront ground forces to a limited extent, to stall ground incursions, and to inflict as many casualties as possible, which would wear out IDF forces, slow down their progress, and allow continued rocket fire into Israel. This operational infrastructure was apparently intended to form a basis for continued fighting by the organization, should the IDF reoccupy parts of southern Lebanon (the less likely but more dangerous scenario in Hezbollah's view).....
....the organization chose three principal tactics:
1. Saturating the area with (short range) rockets.....
2. Advance preparation of a ground and logistics infrastructure for waging a prolonged campaign......
3. The organization has created a hybrid command and control model...."