we’re history, there ain’t nothing left to say
The U.S. Army’s top historian has a paper out on the war between Israel and Hezbollah (and most of Lebanon) in 2006. It was worth reading when I read it before Christmas, and it’s even more so now.
Specifically, Dr Biddle’s view of Hezbollah strategy is interesting; in his opinion, they adapted to the fact that really long-range rockets would be easy for the Israelis to spot from the air by changing their tactics so as to keep the smaller and more mobile rockets in range of northern Israel, while not over-committing the core army they needed to remain a power in Lebanese politics. In practice, this meant moving from a guerrilla war to a mobile defence in depth, rolling with the punches rather than getting out of the way.
This is roughly what this blog said at the time about NATO reconnaissance screen tactics, the self-declared insecurity zone, and the fleet-in-being inside Lebanon. There’s a lot of interesting stuff about their surprisingly good command and control, the use of anti-tank missiles, and much else. I’m slightly surprised that Biddle thinks that the incident where Hezbollah fired a volley of 13 guided missiles at a group of 15 Israeli tanks and destroyed three of them was a failure, but then, this is an American way of seeing. Targets, probabilities, and the like.
In today’s context, it’s clear that many of the same points apply to Hamas. Their top priorities are to stay in charge in Gaza, which is achievable with a thin layer of supporters with access to aid and rifles, and to maintain their insecurity zone, which they are able to do with very primitive rockets that can probably be made under occupation conditions. Sten guns were made in thousands in clandestine workshops in occupied Europe in the second world war, and those had quite precise mechanical workings.