From: Middle East News Line
The U.S. Army has commissioned a study that concluded
that conventional ground forces would be required to battle the
The Rand Corp. has relayed a study to the U.S. Army that analyzed
Israel's 2006 war with Hizbullah. The report, titled "Military Capabilities
for Hybrid War," concluded that Israel's air combat strategy against
Hizbullah was flawed and that infantry and armor would be required to fight
the Lebanese-based militia, trained by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard
"Finally, heavy forces -- based on tanks and infantry fighting
vehicles -- are key elements of any force that will fight sophisticated
irregular opponents, because they reduce operational risk and minimize
friendly casualties," the report, released on April 9, said.
The report was part of a project by the U.S. Army to assess emerging
insurgency threats based on Israel's wars with Hizbullah and Hamas over the
last four years. Rand said both Israel and the United States were facing a
so-called hybrid opponent, or a force that combined conventional and
"Although the U.S. security situation is much different from that of
Israel, similarities do exist," the report said. "Both nations believe they
must prepare for challenges across the range of military operations.
Therefore, the following insights from recent Israeli experience have
relevance for the U.S."
A key finding was that Israel's air combat doctrine has been ineffective
against either Hamas or Hizbullah. The report asserted that air strikes must
be combined with a significant infantry and armor component to minimize the
insurgency use of civilian shields.
"The basics of combined arms fire and maneuver are necessary for
successful operations against sophisticated hybrid opponents who, like
Hizbullah and Hamas, have a modicum of training, organization, and advanced
weapons, particularly if they are operating 'among the people,'" the report,
authored by David Johnson, said. "Additionally, precision, standoff fires
are critical, but not sufficient, to cope with sophisticated hybrid
opponents. Furthermore, responsive and adequate air, artillery, and unmanned
aerial system support are critical components of the combined arms fight
against hybrid opponents."
Rand concluded that the Israel Army had underestimated Hizbullah's
capabilities to combine military maneuvers with sustained rocket fire. The
report cited Israel's long counter-insurgency campaign in the West Bank and
Gaza Strip and the military's assessment that conventional warfare would not
return to the Middle East.
"The U.S. presence in Iraq following OIF [U.S. invasion of Iraq in
2003], coupled with low threats from neighbors except Syria, encouraged a
belief that Israel was beyond the era of a major war and that the primary
role of ground forces was LIC [low-intensity conflict]," the report said.
"Some of the political and military elites in Israel have reached the
conclusion that Israel is beyond the era of wars. It had enough military
might and superiority to deter others from declaring war against her; these
would also be sufficient to send a painful reminder to anyone who seemed to
be undeterred; since Israel did not intend to initiate a war, the conclusion
was that the main challenge facing the land forces would be low intensity
The result was that Israel's military budget had been slashed, main
battle tanks and mechanized infantry became idle and training declined, the
report said. The best army commanders were used for CI operations, and air
force tactical air control capabilities were removed from infantry brigades.
"In Lebanon, the Israelis faced terrain and enemy conditions for which
they were not prepared," the report said. "Hizbullah, although not 10 feet
tall, was trained and organized into small units and armed with
sophisticated weapons, including anti-tank guided missiles, RPGs --
including RPG-29s -- rockets, mortars, mines, IEDs, and MANPADS."
Rand said the Hizbullah and Hamas threat required what the report termed
integrated joint air and ground intelligence, surveillance and
reconnaissance capabilities "similar to those used against conventional
adversaries, but at a reduced scale." The report said the army's command and
control system must also be revised to battle Hizbullah.
Israel's military was said to have renewed its heavy armored force to
confront Hamas and Hizbullah. Rand cited the resumption of production of the
Merkava Mk-4 main battle tank and the launch of the Namer infantry fighting
vehicle, based on the Mk-1. These assets were used in the Hamas war in
December 2008 and January 2009.
"The single most important change in the IDF between the 2006 Second
Lebanon War and the recent operation in Gaza was the clear understanding by
senior Israeli political and military
leaders that ground operations are an essential component of military
operations," the report said. "They no longer believe standoff attack alone,
principally by air, can create success. Thus, from the beginning, it was a
given to Israeli political and military leaders that ground forces would
have to fight in Gaza -- putting troops on the ground was a necessary
precondition to achieving their military and political objectives."
Rand warned that Israel's war with Hamas did not prove that the
military was certain to defeat Hizbullah. The report said Hamas was not as
capable as Hizbullah, and the Gaza Strip was flat while southern Lebanon was
"Hizbullah defended its positions," the report said. "Hamas frequently
retreated. Hizbullah had advanced ATGMs and used them to good effect; Hamas
seems not to have had many and used few, if any, relying mainly on small
arms, RPGs, mortars, rockets, IEDs, and mines. Finally, Operation Cast Lead
[Israeli war against Hamas] was a relatively small-scale operation for the
Israeli Army, involving only a handful of brigades, one division, and the
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