Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Late night musings

I'm watching Fox news and reading about the fight in Lebanon. For the record, I think that Israel is doing the right thing. Hizbollah started this mess, misinterpreting the will of the Israelis that they had taken all they intended to take. That raid two weeks ago was a terrible miscalulation on the part of the Hizbollah commanders.

As I watch this fight unfold, I am concerned for the IDF, not because I don't think they can handle the fight, but because don't think the media and the international community can handle it. Israel has shown that they want to bury Hizbollah, and the fighters in southern Lebanon have had time to dig in, to get set, and they are spoiling to fight the IDF on their home ground. All they have to do to win is survive.

Pete Longstreet noticed back in 1863 that with rifles and normally matched forces, the advantage rests with the entrenched defender. That dynamic hasn't changed in the last 140 years. The Israeli Army is engaged against defenders who know the terrain and have had plenty of time to plan a defense. The defenders don't have an air force, or much artillery, but they are pretty good infantry. A couple of good men in a foxhole who know how to use rifles can bog down an infantry company for a couple of hours. If the defenders have fall-back positions, the fight might last longer. If three or four such positions are mutually supporting, the fight might last all day.

I am reminded that Israel has good armor, excellent artillery and great logistcal support. While amateurs study tactics, professionals study logistics. The modern battlefield is a huge meat-grinder that costs in men, equipment, and material. Normal expenditure rates go out the window and are often tripled or quadrupled as the fight takes shape. Normally, whoever has the most stuff on the ground wins.

Fox is saying that the Israelis lost nine men today. That battle-count might pale in the next several days against an entrenched Hizbollah. I am reminded of the Marines fight on Iwo Jima, on Okinawa, and the Army's fight in the Hurtgen forest during WWII.

I think the Israelis have the stamina to prosecute such a fight. I'm not sure the diplomats and the media have the same stamina. It could get messy. It could get bloody, and it could sound the death-knell for Hizbollah.

The next few days could be really interesting.


j said...

There's s shipment of US bunker buster bombs on the way to Israel. I suspect the IDF tactic is to keep the Hizbo boys busy and full of fight and concentrated on and in their forts. Then it's goodbye to some hilltops and everything on and in them.

oyster said...

When you say the "modern battlefield", what do you mean, precisely? Does that include batttlefields in WWI and WWII, for example?