Sunday, August 27, 2006

Ehud Ya'ari's Opinion

From Ehud Ya'ari's analysis:-

From the outset, there was no "victory" to be had in this war, no resounding knockout. Still, the final score, on points, should have turned out very different from this. The perception that we've ended in a draw is actually a great achievement for Hizballah, one that all terror organizations will be celebrating for many years to come.

Israel should have fought this war in a different way, at a much faster pace, and essentially, with true grit and determination. Instead, it conducted the campaign hesitantly, clumsily, in an improvised, hodgepodge fashion. Hizballah stuck to its defensive plan-rockets on the Israeli home front, anti-tank missiles on the ground-and did not change its tactics, even as it absorbed lethal blows. And indeed, it lost most of its stock of heavy rockets and the best of its fighters.

With the hysterical impatience that characterizes the internal political discourse in Israel, the search is already on for scapegoats-the more the better-and the ritual calls for a commission of inquiry are already being aired. But it is no secret where the points of weakness were, and it is clear who bears the responsibility. All this was ruthlessly exposed while the fighting was underway, and regrettably, nothing will change in the aftermath.

So here is some of our dirty laundry:

Prime Minister Olmert and most of his cabinet, including Defense Minister Amir Peretz, did not want a broad ground offensive in southern Lebanon, for fear of a high casualty rate and of getting bogged down in the notorious "Lebanese quagmire." Therefore it suited them to go along with Chief of Staff Dan Halutz, the first air force man to be appointed to the top job in the military, who had suggested that a sustained air campaign, with no ground invasion, could achieve decisive results. Thus, instead of the IDF's original plan, drawn up during the term of the previous chief of staff, Moshe Yaalon, the government chose to let the General Staff conduct a "no risk battle"
from the sky.

From the moment it became apparent that this method was neither breaking Hizballah nor causing it to take flight, the government approved a plan to "clean up" the strip of Hizballah positions within 6-10 kilometers of Israel's northern border. However, instead of sending in enough ground forces to do the job, they preferred to try a superfluous experiment dubbed the "Swarm of Wasps," which involved sending small groups of elite soldiers into Hizballah strongholds.

This resulted in tough battles with heavy Israeli losses at Bint Jbail, Ayta a-Shaab and other places. Israel wasted two to three weeks in this vein without producing any curve of success on the battlefield.

Only at the very last moment, with the UN Security Council's approval of ceasefire Resolution 1701, did Olmert finally give the go-ahead for a large ground operation. It was like trying to score a goal after the referee has blown the final whistle.

Contrary to the impression created in some quarters, Israeli troops on the whole performed admirably, in the air and on the ground. Less impressive were some of the generals in the Northern Command. It seems that the Peter Principle has been running riot in the IDF as well; too many major generals and brigadier generals have been given more authority than they are able to handle.

But the mediocrity and lack of sophistication in some of the army's upper echelons was not the problem so much as the decision-making process at the highest political levels. War is not just another operation, not a large incursion, and not a pressure tactic. War is war.

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