Iran-Syria vs. Israel, Round 1: Assessments & Lessons Learned
In the aftermath of the 2006 war between Iran/Syria proxies Hezbollah and Israel, after action reviews and assessments began to trickle in. While war is inseparable in practice from political strategy, and the Olmert government’s interference in military planning & operations was significant and negative, DID has searched for analyses that offer more of a techno-tactical assessment. A picture has begun to emerge, as independent evaluations were made of the 2 forces’ effectiveness.
Hezbollah can safely be characterized as a state within a state and was aided by Iranian forces. Accordingly, this conflict featured most of the accoutrements of full state conflicts: Armed UAVs (apparently used by both sides), air and missile strikes with corresponding air defense activity, anti-ship cruise missiles, tanks vs. advanced anti-armor missiles (incl. AT-13s and Milans), etc. As such the performance of the two forces and their equipment is of serious interest to defense observers around the world. The fact that public assessments are still being published in 2012 is solid evidence of that interest.
The war higlighted technology used in the Ahi-Hanit missile attack, prospects for the THEL laser (now Skyguard), and the array of Iranian rockets and missiles being employed. The conflict also raised questions about the limits of military transformation as a doctrine. What follows is a collection of independent public assessments and reviews.
- RAND Corporation (MG708-1, Fall 2012) – All Glory Is Fleeting: Insights from the Second Lebanon War. Notable for its savaging of key “American” military practices, incl. “effects based operations,” over-reliance on airpower, over-estimation of intelligence, using tech-laden command posts as a substitute for front-line presence and understanding, and operations disconnected from strategy. RAND’s report does miss the logic of Israel holding Lebanon’s government to account, a tactic that wasn’t actually aimed at the government and was about the aftermath more than the war. It also failed to address how Israel changed by 2008, with Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. With that said, the report is well done and highly worthwhile.
- Infinity Journal (Issue 3, 2011) – The Second Lebanon War: A Re-assessment. By Martin van Creveld. He’s right that the northern border has been a lot quieter post-war.
- RAND Corp (April 9/10) – Military Capabilities for Hybrid War; Insights from the Israel Defense Forces in Lebanon and Gaza [PDF]
- Ha’aretz (Oct 5/08) – ANALYSIS: Two years on, IDF is starting to look like an army that can fight a war. See also “ANALYSIS: IDF plans to use disproportionate force in next war” and “Ex-IDF chief Ya’alon: Air force failed in Second Lebanon War.”
- Israel’s Winograd Commission, Final Report (Jan 30/08) – English summary | Links to coverage. If readers can point DID to a copy of the full report, we’ll post the link here.
- Strategy Page (Jan 25/07) – Merkava Muddles and Miracles in Lebanon
- Defense Update (Jan 3/07) – Col. David Eshel’s Assessments of the Second Lebanon War. Includes assessments of Hezbollah’s Intelligence War | Israel’s Intelligence Dilemmas | Merkava Tank performance | Hezbollah anti-tank tactics | The rocket blitz.
- DID (Sept 13/06) – Israeli Defense Increases May Depend on Key Management Reforms. In order to fight better, some Israeli lawmakers believe there must be deeper changes.
- Jane’s Defense Weekly (Aug 25/06) – Article claims that of 50 IDF Merkava Mk 2, 3 and 4 MBTs hit, 21 were penetrated (45%). Hezbollah used advanced dual-warhead Russian RPG-29 rockets and AT-13 and AT-14 anti-tank missiles, which can defeat explosive reactive armor protection. Most tanks returned to the fight even when penetrated, but too many tank crewmen did not.
- Winds of Change.NET (Aug 24/06) – A Military Assessment of the Lebanon Conflict by Ben Moores. Those unwilling to pen a full article but with an insight or two to contribute are encouraged to use the comments section here.
- DefenseTech (Aug 22/06) – More Lebanon War Lessons Learned. Includes an assessment from Jane’s.
- DefenseTech (Aug 21/06) – Lebanon War Lessons Learned. Is a shakeup coming in the Israeli military?
- NY Post (Aug 17/06) – Hezbollah 3, Israel 0 by Lt. Col. Ralph Peters [ret.]. The revelations concerning the state of the reserves are particularly troubling. On Winds of Change.NET, Trent Telenko expands on that aspect, noting the importance of the corruption factor and wondering if the IDF has become a “hollow force” like the US military was in the 1970s.
- Center for Strategic & International Studies (Aug 17/06) – Preliminary “Lessons” of the Israeli-Hezbollah War by Anthony H. Cordesman [PDF format]
- Jamestown Foundation, Terrorism in Focus (Aug 15/06) – Hezbollah’s Creative Tactical Use of Anti-Tank Weaponry
- STRATFOR (July 24/06) – Israeli Tanks and Hezbollah Countermeasures
- DID (July 20 /06) – Israel Discovering Transformation’s Limits?