Sunday, July 30, 2006

48 Hours

STRATFOR has an interesting bulletin out. Take these limited excerpts for what you will:


At this moment there appears to be a major shift taking place in the war. Though the scope of the operation is unclear, it appears the Israelis have shifted to a new phase of the war, focusing on broader and more intense ground operations. ...  We do not know this for certain, but it does warrant alerting our readers to the possibility. ...

There are reports of new areas involved in fighting and new Israeli units being engaged. For example, Israeli forces are now fighting in the area of Qana. This is a few miles southeast of Tyre and deep into southern Lebanon. We have heard that the Qana action consists of engineers, armor and infantry, indicating a more traditional combined arms effort. ...  There are additional reports of engagements near and to the west of the Israeli panhandle in the Dan-Dafna-Metulla region, along with heavy artillery fire in this region. This would be the jump-off point for an attack both westward along the Litani and northward into the Bekaa Valley. There were extensive reports of a major armored buildup in this area over the past 48 hours. This would also explain the decision to disengage temporarily at Bent Jbail in preparation for the new phase of operations.

Interestingly, the report about Qana that we have says the attacking force is from the Nahal Division ... This is of great importance because it indicates that the armor massed in the panhandle is moving in a broad encirclement as per traditional IDF doctrine.

I can't reproduce more without violating fair use. The STRATFOR report is hedged with maybe this, maybe that. So I'll leave the piece at that. Maybe this. Maybe that. We'll know soon enough.

Update

Yoni reports that 154 rockets have fallen on Israel today, the highest number since the start. "Maybe this should be a clue that what Olmert and Halutz the Chief of Staff are doing is just not working." In other news, "Senior officers in the northern command criticized the decision claiming it hurts the momentum that ground forces had achieved against Hizbullah in southern Lebanon. ... Despite the suspension, IAF jets reportedly carried out two raids at approximately 1:30 a.m. near the village of Yanta, about five kilometers (three miles) from the Syrian border.", according to the Jerusalem Post. And it appears that the moratorium on air strikes applies to whole of Lebanon. Haaretz says:

The Israeli suspension of air strikes in Lebanon began early in the day and covers the entire country, an Israel Defense Forces spokesman said. Nevertheless, IDF ground operations will continue as before, with the intention of completing the demolition of Hezbollah positions along the border by Thursday. ... Following the meeting, the bureaus of the prime minister and Defense Minister Amir Peretz decided to limit the aerial activity until the completion of the investigation. The announcement was supposed to have been made by the Israeli military, but due to a misunderstanding, it actually came from the American side.

This doesn't sound like a cabinet that is operating according to a strategic plan. It sounds like a bunch of politicians doing what politicians do.

As I said, we shall see.

43 Comments:

Blogger Final Historian said...

So Israel is slowing down the air war... only to turn up the ground offensive?

The question is then... was this part of a plan already in place, namely to use an opportunity which would dictate a reduction in bombing to increase the tempo of ground ops, or was it an instance of recent improvisation?

7/30/2006 08:31:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

The next few days will show whethether we are seeing the big picture at last or Halutz was dicking around from day one. Just a couple of comments.

First, although it is dangerous to ascribe too much to the IDF, it is also dangerous to credit them with too little. Second, much has been made of Olmert and Pertez being nonmilitary men and concluding that therefore they are going to meddle with the pros.

The little experience I have had watching civilians ignorant of military matters suggests the opposite. Inexperienced civilians are quickly captured by the generals because they have no confidence in their own military judgment and no informal networks to verify their military subordinate's claims. In a national crisis, without independent expertise, they'll go with the pros.

Old Sharon could pick up a phone and talk to some general who he once bailed out of some cathouse and say "now Shlomo, don't lie to your old Captain" and get the news straight. It would be suicide for any IDF Chief of Staff to try and pull a fast one on Sharon. Olmert and Peretz can't do that.

So for those two reasons, I'd say there's fair chance that we'll see what Halutz had in mind right soon, if ever had anything in mind to start with.

7/30/2006 08:46:00 PM  
Blogger Jake said...

One might assume that Hizzbullah sees the next phase of the war emerging also. That would explain their pulling out all stops on the propoganda side of things.

7/30/2006 08:50:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

A drive to the Bekaa would make it all worthwhile, if expensive.
Less than that is as bad as losing.

As to Politicians with little Military experience defering to the Generals, just look at the White House. The Generals are said, by the President, to make ALL the important decisions in Iraq. For better or worse.

7/30/2006 08:54:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7/30/2006 08:54:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

Does the "48 hour aerial ceasefire in southern Lebanon" make sense strictly from a military standpoint, in light of this recent information? In other words, would the aerial bombardment inevitably tail off once the ground forces went in? If so, that adds a wrinkle to the announcement.

In a war waged under the glare of international public opinion, a "48 cessation of aerial bombing" has a psychological value on many different levels. For instance, you could add a couple of prepositional phrases and make it "Cessation of aerial bombardment to enable the delivery of humanitarian aid", and then you have a Public Relations card. Or, you could imply the ceasefire is from confusion or timidity, making your enemy relax by playing a psyops card. Or you could do both.

In fact, one could go through an entire campaign and rank tactically necessary maneuvers--and even entire stages of conflict--by how well they lend themselves to being spun to the public, and then create a list of what that spinning could entail. Then, if one were to get in a bind--a PR disaster, say, or an enemy that is bunkered down and invisible--one could go to the list and figure out which card you could play, depending on what stage you were at in the campaign.

Then again, maybe I've been staring at a computer screen too long.

7/30/2006 09:07:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

06:51 Security sources: IAF launches attack in eastern Lebanon, near Syria (Reuters)

7/30/2006 09:07:00 PM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

I suppose I hadn't considered that the aerial suspension didn't also mean a suspension of ground attacks. I doubt that HB will suspend their rocket attacks for 48 hrs if Israel attacks them on the ground so I don't see this as lasting 48hrs anyway.

This article is a fairly detailed description of the attack at Qana, from the perspective of those on the ground. The pictures certainly don't look good for Israel. One of the locals interviewed said that HB had not been firing from the town at all. Either he's lying or the IDF is mistaken or lying.

7/30/2006 09:15:00 PM  
Blogger kingmanor said...

I really need to resubscribe to Stratfor.

7/30/2006 09:17:00 PM  
Blogger pauldanish said...

final historian asks:

The question is then... was this part of a plan already in place, namely to use an opportunity which would dictate a reduction in bombing to increase the tempo of ground ops, or was it an instance of recent improvisation?

Israeli doctrine encourages improvisation to accomplish the broad goals of a battle plan rather than slavishly sticking to it. I think the bombing pause is an example of this.

The ground thrust underway appears aimed at cutting off and trapping Hezbollah forces south of the Litani by cutting off their access to the Bekaa, while at the same time creating an opening for an IDF thrust up the Bekaa. This much almost certainly was planned.

I think it's unlikely that a bombing pause was pre-planned. But if politics required it, it probably wouldn't take too much improvisation to spend the next 48 hours hitting targets north of Khaim and up to Baalbek.

There is a possible tactical advantage to the bombing pause. Hezbollah may use it as an approtunity to move. That could be fatal, if a major IDF ground offensive is underway, airstrikes or no airstrikes.

There is one final aspect of the Qana affair as well that should be remarked: The global journalistic hyperventilation over it has served as a smokescreen for the ground war. This is important not only for reasons of international politics, but because Hezbollah is probably more dependent on the newsmedia for infomration on whats going on than the IDF is.

7/30/2006 09:21:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

I also wouldn't be surprised if Israel spun the ground incursion as an opportunity to stabilize humanitarian corridors.

7/30/2006 09:28:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

"One of the locals interviewed said that HB had not been firing from the town at all"

There's an IDF video of a rocket launcher in a small orchard at this site labelled "IDF Video: Hizbullah missile fire from within the village of Kafr Qana."

If you follow the instructions here you can recreate the exact view from the IDF warplane using Google Earth.

You then see that this rocket launcher was positioned less than 500 yards from the blue minaret that we see in the video footage from Qana today.

7/30/2006 09:29:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Wretchard mentions fair use:
Could someone please explain the current Internet status quo for linked pictures, thumbnail versions of copyrighted pictures etc?
...or where one could learn.

7/30/2006 10:08:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Here's What Charles refered to, I think.

7/30/2006 10:16:00 PM  
Blogger timmiejoebob said...

What is the precisely best moment to crush the Hez? When Arab and Persian sympathy reaches a frenzy. When the Lebanon PM vocalizes support. When Sunni Saudi Arabia gets in bed with Shia. When 82% of Lebanon sympathizes with Hezbollah. When Israel's enemies dare to believe they can win. Then is the best time to bring the hammer down.

Aristides is spot on. This Qana scenario has been both war-gamed and lived out in the past. The predictable civilian deaths numbering in the scores. The Beirut demonstrations. The frenzy of emotion througout the Mideast. It is precisely the point to deflate them a bit.

There's a lesson here for any nation or pseudo nation hoping to become more than just a second rate third world nobody. Fireworks and the sympathy of the left are not enough to rock your world or anybody else's.

The fact is that besides the Anglosphere, Israel and the two other sortapowers (China and Russia) the rest are just fleas on elephants. Heaven help them if we ever get serious because we sure as hell won't.

To Hezbollah with apologies to Mr. Gilbert:

"Go ye heroes, go to glory,
"Though you die in combat gory,
"Ye shall live in song and story.
"Go to immortality!
"Go to death, and go to slaughter;
"Die, and every Muslim daughter
"With her tears your grave shall water.
"Go, ye heroes, go and die!"

7/30/2006 10:34:00 PM  
Blogger NortheastOxymoron said...

Utopia Parkway said...

"I suppose I hadn't considered that the aerial suspension didn't also mean a suspension of ground attacks.

This article is a fairly detailed description of the attack at Qana, from the perspective of those on the ground. The pictures certainly don't look good for Israel. One of the locals interviewed said that HB had not been firing from the town at all. Either he's lying or the IDF is mistaken or lying.
"

Actually, Israel only committed to aerial bombing in southern Lebanon. They didn't define southern or specifically commit to not fire missiles in other areas.

As for the local Qana resident stating "HB had not been firing from the town at all." FFS, he's a Hizzie in Qana. Would you trust his word?

7/30/2006 10:39:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Wretchard - Inexperienced civilians are quickly captured by the generals because they have no confidence in their own military judgment and no informal networks to verify their military subordinate's claims. In a national crisis, without independent expertise, they'll go with the pros.

With the exception of the Neocon lawyers and academics that asserted their civilian authority and wiser judgement over the military folks at the Pentagon and the silly "old hands & outdated Realists" who had "gone native" from too much experience and time in foreign lands.

The fruits of the Neocon approach are there for all to see.

Just as the fruits of domestic supply side, free trade, Big Government is Best,globalist, open borders theorists who never worked a day in private industry are there for all to see.

Desert Rat - As to Politicians with little Military experience defering to the Generals, just look at the White House. The Generals are said, by the President, to make ALL the important decisions in Iraq. For better or worse.

Awww, come on, Rat! You believe that??? The strategic decisions and even the allowed troop strength levels for Iraq came from Neocons, not GenComms. It was "The Bremer Decision" not the JCS General Myers decision. With the tradition of principled resignations dead because of the career damage, loss of pension considerations - the post-mortems in military history will be written by the colonels that make a career transition, the two and three Stars that held their heated breath for the chance at Star #3 or 4.

Bush himself is limited to the "hero-kinda guys" who "fight the evildoers" level of thinking.

I am rooting for the Israelis to redeem themselves.

The only good that has come out of this war is an end to the neocon fantasy of an easy, cakewalk-like "high tech surgical precision strike" by Israel or America "defanging" all of Irans missiles or nuclear facilities.

Not Israel. Not from the air only. It can be done only by the US, with Israel bribed whatever it takes to keep them away. Bush is not trusted enough by Congress to start a 3rd major war. His successor, if it must be done, faces a war far more complex, expensive, and bloody than Iraq.

7/30/2006 10:56:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), people are not supposed to copy and post whole articles that are copy protected (such as the Stratfor piece).

Basically, one can copy a couple of paragraphs and post them but not the whole article. Other's say one can only copy a few sentences. But, it's a wide body of law and it's still up in the air on exactly what constitutes copyright infringment.

Here are some links to the DMCA:

See: DMCA & Fair Use

See: Copyright and Fair Use

See: Unintended Consequences: Seven Years under the DMCA

7/30/2006 11:34:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

Back to the Battle.

My concern about the "48 Hr. aerial bombardment cease fire" is the level of potent antitank weapons and sniper weapons found so far in Hezballah hands.

If the Israel is just going to use ground troops and mechanized units these antitank weapons could prove very dangerous without air support.

One would assume air support would be helpful in locating and destroying groups of men preparing to launch these potent weapons. Now, Spotters and Special Ops can probably do the job - but with much higher risk.

I am sure others posters have noted this story by Lgf in which five pictures reveal: a Soviet Sagger antitank missile, Konkurs laser guided anti tank missiles, 6-7 US style TOW missiles, US M24 sniper rifle with US-made Raptor night vision scope.

I wonder how much more heavy stuff will be found - or found the hard way.

See: A Closeup Look at Hizballah's Weapons

7/31/2006 12:01:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Thanks ledger:
I once had a book, and felt I knew enough to stay out of trouble.
Then I took a class and got to talk to the lawyer afterward:
Promptly forgetting any useful info in my brain as he assaulted me with exceptions and different opinions!

And we wonder why we don't win wars anymore.

7/31/2006 12:04:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Empire State Building took 13 Months to Build.
It is 75 years old this year.
Times has a bunch of great articles.

7/31/2006 12:22:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

A New Enemy Gains on the U.S.

7/31/2006 12:43:00 AM  
Blogger Ari Tai said...

re: Qana.

Given how sensitized the IAF is to these types of failures, I'd wager they didn't, and this will end up resembling the self-inflicted killing of Lebanese from mines the Hez buried (likely incorrectly) on the beach. The IAF lays a few PGMs on targets a couple of football field lengths away from this structure (which curiously the families don't abandon then) and some time later it is turned into rubble. Perhaps one of the Hez survived the earlier attack and was too angry and in too much of a hurry preparing another Kat, and managed to ignite an ammo dump (located in a storeroom under this school or hospital or community center they built?)

Granted, the truth won't make any difference (nor should it matter if the IAF hit the building directly by mistake), save in 30-40 years when a dispassionate history is written.

Golda Meir is reported to have said to those that made war on Israel (roughly) "I can forgive you killing my children, but I can not forgive you for forcing me to kill yours."

7/31/2006 04:32:00 AM  
Blogger 2164th said...

FYI Doug,

The Empire State Building took one year and 45 days to build.

Prior to the time when Americans were victims, litigants, consumers, grossly over weight, diversified and entitled, regulated and hyphenated, they got things done:

The entire 118-mile length of the New Jersey Turnpike took 25 months to construct, at a total cost of $255 million.

During WWII, the U.S. Maritime Commission managed the construction of 5,601 self-propelled oceangoing ships, including 26 Essex class carriers, plus tens of thousands of small vessels and barges, and countless conversions. The US also produced 324,750 military aircraft, 88,410 tanks and 71,067 self-propelled guns.

7/31/2006 05:31:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

C4, The President says it, so it is either true or Mr Bush is a liar. While I think what he says is highly improbable, I'd hate to think that he's lied about delegating his Authority.

Regardless, he retains Responsibility for the publicly announced strategy and it's current state of failure.

Seems that the Intrior Minister, in Iraq, the one that took 90 days to name, is going to be replaced, the anarchy being his responsibility to quell. He has faoled and Mr Maliki is replacing him. Perhaps Mr Bush should take note of how to replace failed subordinates.

doug's link, to the NYTimes, is instructive, but since it's from the NYTimes, just forget about it.

Overnight the IDF did not move north towards the Bekaa, maybe, like US hunting T's in Ramadi and Tanji, the Israeli will do it "later".

The FOX scroll says there is to be another Israeli War Cabinet meeting today.
War or retreat, which course will they choose?

7/31/2006 05:40:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

"Oops, darn it! Glad it didn't happen while Hugo was here!"

7/31/2006 06:13:00 AM  
Blogger Juan Golblado said...

When I heard about this ceasefire, an evacuation of civilians from the south was also part of the plan. But now I find aid workers and the media putting up cover for Hezbullah by saying that it is better to resupply civilians than to get them out.

They put forward two reasons for this, which are closely related: 1) evacuating civilians would meet what are described as "one side's political goals", with the implication that this side is Israel but without saying what the goals are, and 2) that it's just not right to depopulate an area.

I think they have taken their line from Hezbollah, and Israel has once again lost a crucial battle in media space where some of the most important aspects of the battlefield environment are decided.

Removing civilians from the south was the only thing in the plan that favored Israel because it cleared the battlespace out for them, removing Hezbollah's shields. In fact a complete evacuation of civilians would have been fatal for Hezbullah; they would have had to leave, too, or be destroyed by the IDF.

What I can't understand is why Israel doesn't make this point itself? Why doesn't it scream and howl about using this period to get civilians out of the south and that Hezbullah is using civilians as shields?

7/31/2006 06:29:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Because agreements are just tactical opportunities, to be exploited?

7/31/2006 06:44:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Reports are mixed, tho--

7/31/2006 06:49:00 AM  
Blogger Joe Buzz said...

"Now villagers in Qana tell them there are only five people that are unaccounted for, not the 25 or 30 they originally thought. The excavation teams give up the dig at about 7:30 p.m. Sunday. A beautiful soft dusk falls over the surrounding hills and valleys, a sharp contrast to the death and destruction they have been knee-deep in for more than 12 hours."
Courtesy of:

Hotzone

7/31/2006 07:27:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Seems that the IDF is using what they can of the diplomatic/political realities. The simple fact of the matter is that close-air-support is vital to IDF operations and they would not forego them willingly while maintaining their tempo. CAS is probably as important for disengagement than it is for assaulting through objectives. I’ve heard mixed reports as to whether civilians are evacuating the battlefield. It seems fair to say though any civilian that chooses to remain in a battle zone is taking their chances. In fact, as shields, they are defacto combatants.

7/31/2006 08:20:00 AM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

*

Qana is a feint.

The real action is the Bekaa. Here is my analysis:

Tactics, Strategy, Grand Strategy

Interesting discussion at Captain's Quarters

*

7/31/2006 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

Weretchard,

The move is strategic.

Syria and Iran are going down.

You should read my estimated plan. You will find it matches reality well so far.

It shows that almost every one has been fooled but me. The key for me was the Dorsai novels.

Sorry friend. Did you get my e-mail?

Well I left a link here. Read it and test it against reality. I cover the plan and the deception plan. Almost every one but me has been decieved.

7/31/2006 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger geoffgo said...

M. Simon,

Reading the link to CQ caused me to remember that Israel is prosecuting this conflict with Hezbollah voting "against" in the Knesset.

7/31/2006 09:44:00 AM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

final historian asks:

The question is then... was this part of a plan already in place,

Simon answers: yes. Read the plan i have outlined. The pause is just an added element. The key is that Qana inflamed the Arab street. That was a requirement of the plan. Without Qana it would have taken a few more days. Thanks Hizbollah.

Cutting off forces in Bekaa is tactical. Bringing Syria in is strategic.


timmiejoebob,

Crushing Syria and Iran is the important task. Hizbollah can wither on the vine.

C4,

As usual you are totally out of your depth. The neocons are going to clear the table.

Ari Tai,

An inflamed Arab street is part of the plan. The hizzies are helping with their human shield tactics. A good plan makes positive use of all elements.

desert rat,

When the Pres. says thye hizzies will be strategically reduced (Syria and Iran) believe him.

7/31/2006 09:53:00 AM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

geoffgo,

Yes. But with Israelis united it doesn't matter.

That was the beauty of the Sharon Plan (Gaza withdrawal) it united the Israelis when it failed (as Sharon must have known it would).

BTW i predicted the value of the Sharon plan two years ago in the comments at LGF and last year on my blog.

I'm on a roll.

7/31/2006 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger allen said...

m. simon,

Good stuff. Hope you are correct.
Thanks

7/31/2006 10:16:00 AM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

Allen,

When I started seeing it on the 27th I was willing to stick my neck out.

Today I'm almost certain. The Israeli cabinent today promised strategic victory. That sealed it for me.

Of corse Bush saying it on Thursday was pretty good too. Never misunderestimate him.

7/31/2006 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger Joe Buzz said...

M. simon,
While you are on your roll, can you tell us what you think that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has up his sleeve for the 8/21 surprise?
thanks,

7/31/2006 11:17:00 AM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

Joe Buzz,

I don't have a clue as to what Ahmadinnerjacket has up his sleve. I do know it must be very bad and that this war is cutting it close.

A nuke? A nuke test? A nuke for Israel? Poison gas on rockests? An attack by Hizbollah?

All I know is that it seems like a very good idea to have his take down in progress before the magic date. In fact it was a great relief for me when I figured all this out.

I'm sure American and Israeli intel know. They have told me nothing. I work from open sources and come to my own conclusions.

7/31/2006 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

wretchard,

If after reading my analysis you are still not sure, I am encouraged.

If any Syrians are out there reading thisthey will blow it off as an inexperienced American spending too much time with the hookah. Excellent!

As I said in my piece I could announce this en clear and it wound change nothing. Excellent!

===============================

Think about it for a moment. The one thing israel has known how to do for 60 years is to fight external enemies. The best Army in the world lost its touch? I'd go the other way. Better than ever.

Israel was never very good at strategic deception before this war. They have grown.

7/31/2006 01:14:00 PM  
Blogger the mad fiddler said...

I hate admitting this, but after seeing literally hundreds of incidents in the last decade in which Islamic fascists had massacred utterly innocent men, women, and children of their own communities and religion without hesitation, knowing that the whole world was watching, why should I believe for a single instant that Hizb'ollah would shrink from murdering Lebanese citizens and blaming Israel?

THAT, my friends, is EXACTLY the reason for using the civilians as human shields in the first place.

The deaths of civilians are the responsibility of Hizb'ollah, indirectly if Israeli attacks on Hizb'ollah produced inadvertant casualties; directly if Hizb'ollah staged a sacrifice of its hostages.

By the way, when did the Red Crescent (the Islamic version of Red Cross) yield its operational graphics and start using red crosses?

7/31/2006 02:29:00 PM  
Blogger the mad fiddler said...

("I hate admitting to being so cynically convinced of Hizb'ollah's undiluted evil...")

7/31/2006 02:32:00 PM  

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