Thursday, December 23, 2010

Kill the Rain

No anti-missile umbrella can stop all the missiles from hitting the ground. All it can do is protect little footprints under their dome. The Israeli Iron Dome system is no exception:

The Israeli military revealed that its new Iron Dome anti-rocket system was not meant for defending towns and villages, but military bases. For years, politicians touted Iron Dome as a means of defending civilians living close to rockets fired from Gaza in the south and Lebanon in the north. But it turns out that it takes about 15 seconds for Iron Dome to detect, identify and fire its missiles. But most of the civilian targets currently under fire from Gaza are so close to the border (within 13 kilometers) that the rockets are fired and land in less than 15 seconds.

This explains why, after Iron Dome was declared ready for action six months ago, it was surprisingly placed in storage. The air force said they would prefer to save money and put the Iron Dome batteries in storage, to be deployed only for regular tests (and for training) and for an actual emergency (an expected large scale attack on southern or northern Israel.)

And even the military targets to be protected can be hit by overwhelming the umbrella. And Hezbollah is planning to do that:
Meanwhile, up north in Lebanon, Hezbollah have stockpiled over 40,000 factory-made rockets, mainly BM-21s brought in from Iran via Syria. This is three times as many rockets as they had in the Summer of 2006, when over 4,000 rockets were fired into northern Israel, killing about fifty people, most of them civilians. Over a thousand Lebanese died from Israeli counterattacks. Hezbollah and Hamas plan to launch a joint rocket attack on Israel eventually. The Israelis have been planning more effective countermeasures, which they have not been discussing openly. There is also the option of installing Iron Dome in the north, but that has not been assured yet.

An aerial solution (perhaps to compel the weak Lebanese government to do something, as foolish as that hope was) did not work in 2006. So ultimate defense requires the Israelis to control the launch sites. That will require an aggressive invasion that moves fast and moves deep to crush the Hezbollah light infantry formations and, for some period of time, occupy southern Lebanon (and maybe more).

Sometimes the only defense is a good offense.