Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Target: Baalbek

Israel screwed the pooch in 2006 when they fought on Hezbollah's terms in Lebanon and engaged in shallow, small-unit frontal attacks on small Hezbollah light infantry units that fought from prepared defenses to shield their missile launching sites.

Sure, you can call it a tactical victory because Israel inflicted more casualties on Hezbollah than they endured, but that is no way to measure victory against an enemy that values lives so cheaply.

The next time there is a war with Hezbollah, Israel will fight it way differently, I think:

I assume that any war will be a multi-division push north of the Litani that will take advantage of the fact that Hezbollah, after 2006, wrongly believes it can go toe-to-toe with Israeli troops and so will fight as light infantry rather than as insurgents. For a while, Israel will be able to really pound Hizbollah ground forces as the Israelis take over rocket-launch sites and armories with troops.

Further, I'd guess the Israelis will push rapidly into the Bekaa Valley as far as Baalbek to tear up Hezbollah's rear area to slow down rearmament after the war is over. Air strikes would take place north of that, if necessary, I'd guess.

The Gaza Winter War of 2008-2009 provides a hint of how the Israelis will approach that war. Israel may or may not have stopped in 2009 too early, but their ground forces did very well, in contrast to 2006.

And this makes me sure that the Israelis will go deep:

Israel recently held its first large scale airborne assault exercise since the 1990s. Over a thousand soldiers of the Paratrooper Brigade jumped. Since the 1990s, only small groups of paratroopers have dropped, and the mass jump is part of an effort to prepare the Paratrooper Brigade to carry out large scale jumps. This is part of a new policy to increase the ground forces ability to fight conventional war.

Drop paratroopers in Baalbek to hit and secure the Hezbollah rear area, drop troops by helicopters at key points between Baalbek and the Israeli border to facilitate movement north, and unleash mechanized units to advance around Hezbollah light infantry in the south to link up with the paratroopers (and smash up the isolated Hezbollah infantry left behind), and the next war will be very unlike the airpower-centric failure that 2006 was.