< meta name="DC.Date.Valid.End" content="20050825"> Amendment Nine: Some Thoughtful Analysis from Robb

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Some Thoughtful Analysis from Robb

Robb's latest post at Global Guerrillas is very well put ("It's Not Too Late for Israel"), very thoughtful (as always), and has the benefit of being quite concise as well. Do read it in its entirety.

There is, in my opinion, a deep conflict arising within the IDF and Israel as a whole. The camps are split between: a) full scale ground invasion in order to seize enough ground to push Hizbullah back beyond the launch envelope and b) effects based-like operations in order to eliminate Hizbullah's operational basis.

Robb's post hits on several keys, pointing out a middle path is required between the two camps as I've framed them above.
In a world where the state is growing weaker, our victory can easily destroy the enemy state itself, not merely bring about “regime change.” If this happens, it may prove difficult or impossible for us or for anyone to re‑create a state. The result will then be the emergence of another stateless region, which is greatly to the advantage of Fourth Generation entities. As is so easy in the Fourth Generation, we will have lost by winning. Therefore, we must learn how to preserve enemy states at the same time that we defeat them.
(quoting from the Fourth Generation Seminar's own FMFM 1-A).

This is the central problem with Israel right now, they never wanted this war because in their mind they had won. But by winning, they lost. This is a Hegelian moment to be sure. They failed to "preserve" a state in Lebanon strong enough to challenge Hizbullah's violence.

Originally, the stopper in the vacuum of power was Syria (not much of a stopper), but over time this too become sucked away in the blackhole of what Robb terms "open source warfare."

So now Israel is likely to attempt a full scale ground invasion, challenging Hizbullah's violence, and pushing them back behind the Litani river (query whether this is beyond the launch envelope for their newest weaponry or not?).

Yet, as the document Robb quotes extensively from points out, this is not exactly the way to go (it could be, of course, depending on their force mix, but early returns say the mix is too heavy). Here Robb points out:
Light infantry is the best counter to irregulars because it offers... First, good light infantry (unless badly outnumbered) can usually defeat almost any force of irregulars it is likely to meet. It can do this in a “man to man” fight that avoids the “Goliath” image. If the light infantry does not load itself too heavily with arms and equipment, it can enjoy the same mobility as the irregulars (enhanced, as necessary by helicopters or attached motor vehicles). Second, when it uses force, light infantry can be far more discriminating than other combat arms and better avoid collateral damage. This is critically important at both the mental and moral levels.
Robb himself notes:
Israel's only chance to reverse this situation and win (which will be at most a limited victory, given previous blunders) in this war is to fully embrace the light infantry approach and fight this at close quarters. This means sending the tanks back to the sheds, slowing down the air campaign (limiting it to counter-battery fire), and reducing the infantry's dependence of tactical firepower support. Further, all efforts that destabilize the Lebanese state should be reversed.
A9 readers will no doubt note I've noted similar tactical preferences here before. However, I also believe the "light infantry" approach advocated here is capable of some significant refinement.

Light infantry alone will not convince Hizbullah they are beaten. All it will convince them of is that Israel has decided to fight like men.

The short-term consequence of a return to light infantry engagement is to rally Hizbullah's base. You can see the soft, half-smiles on the grizzled faces of Hizbullah's most hardened fighters: "now they fight us on our terms."

In a nutshell, this is the knife's edge between imperliasm and colonialism. Imperialism just sends the Armada to float off the coast and maybe fire a few canons here and there in order to scare the natives back into peaceful acquiesence. Colonialism, however, sends the troops into villages and torches them.

That is: Air power v. grunts or: McClellan v. Sherman or for the Kantian crowd: Power v. Murder.

Again, the Hegelian balance here should be clear enough and the opportunity for even a limited light infantry approach to devolve into a host of still more unintended consequences after the "victory" should also be readily apparent.

Roaming bands of light infantry will be met by the steel of all hardened Hizbullah veterans as well as the steel of the youth of Lebanon, Syria, and many others. As the veterans smile, the youth will rejoice. Rumor will spread. Hopes will be raised. Sure, the battles will roll up in favor of Israel, but the myth of Hizbullah and resistance will inflate the resistance worldwide.

In my opinion, light infantry alone is insufficient. Just as carpet bombing alone is insufficient for a successful air campaign. The enemy will not be disoriented by Israel's change in tactics, they will be thrilled.

Alexander was a ruthless general. He was rumored to have teams of assassins working with his army. They would poison the drinking water of the finest combatants on the other side. Or slip into their tents at night and dagger them in their sleep.

Undoubtedly, this was mostly legend. But it is an important legend. Leaders and fine warriors were afraid of the unknown when fighting with Alexander. They were disoriented. They were scared, more than usual, of death. And this made them uncomfortable in battle.

We must get serious about disorienting and disrupting the tribal hierarchies. They exist even though they are hard to pinpoint or even identify. I'm speaking about their unwritten codes and pecking orders. Their moral, spiritual, and physical rankings are what we can use to upend them. In much the same way good cops disrupt gangs by playing on these social characteristics, we must do the same.

Of course, we can't merely go and put the chief of a small gang in a police cruiser while he's out for a night on the town, thereby embarrassing him and reinforcing the impression that even he answers to the law just like everyone else. But we can resort to the type of tactics Alexander was rumored to use.

Light infantry attacks limit the field of battle, which is good considering the toll expansion of the field of battle has recently taken on Israel's moral fight. But they also limit the field of battle too much if we simply engage the enemy on their terms alone.

Indeed, I fear such a course of action would only harden the resistance for the next few years while bleeding Israel dry.

It may sound like dirty pool to a lot of you, but this is a dirty business... Israel needs to hire teams of assassins, and make the use of them notorious. Some may forget, they once were.

Indeed, in my opinion, killing militia leaders in their homes, in their beds, at night, with no warning, is the only way to turn newly recruited irregular fighters back into disenchanted civilians. Once you start that process, and only until you start that process, will you see the tide starting to turn in this very long of wars.