The point to this was that they had used a tremendous number of missiles, and that Syria and Iran were likely to experience considerable fiscal pain to replace the large amount of ordnance that Hizbollah had expended.
- The reserve army, the IDF's main ground force, was exposed in the campaign as an insufficiently trained and equipped force. Years of negligence, due to budgetary constraints, brought highly motivated but sometimes poorly equipped units into Lebanon. "We have been warning for years on the deterioration of the reserve army, through its lack of training," claimed Gen Halutz. There's a consensus among senior IDF officers that the reserves will have to undergo a significant upgrade effort.
JDW Aug 23, 2006
Israel introspective after Lebanon offensive
An introspective account of the conflict by ALON BEN-DAVID JDW Correspondent
As Israel started to withdraw its forces from Lebanese territory on 17 August, there were growing calls from the Israeli public demanding an investigation of what is perceived as a series of failures in the current campaign.
Although the Israeli political and military leadership claim the goals of the offensive against the Islamic Resistance (the armed wing of the Lebanese Shi'ite Party of God - Hizbullah) were achieved in UN Security Council Resolution 1701, the majority of the Israeli public believes the Israel Defence Force (IDF) failed to obtain the objectives set for the operation.
In response to growing public pressure, and perhaps in an attempt to impede a public inquiry committee, Israeli Defence Minister Amir Peretz has established a commission of inquiry that will examine the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and IDF's conduct before and during the conflict.
IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Dan Halutz has also indicated he intends to appoint an internal IDF inquiry. Internal inquiries can never scrutinise the officials who initiate them, however a public commission of inquiry bears the authority of the Israeli Supreme Court and examines performance and decision-making process at all levels.
While most of Israel's post-war inquiry committees tended to spare the political echelon and placed the onus on the military levels, it is clear in this instance why Israel's inexperienced prime minister and defence minister are reluctant to appoint such an inquiry, let alone the IDF Chief of Staff.
Gen Halutz came under severe public criticism after it was revealed that he had sold his entire stock portfolio just hours after the abduction of two IDF personnel on 12 July: a time when the IDF was preparing for war.
With the confidence of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Israeli Defence Minister Amid Peret's backing, Gen Halutz rejected accusations of misconduct, saying that he "like any other civilian, has a household to manage".
Aside from personal allegations, IDF soldiers now returning from Lebanon are revealing the inside stories of the conflict, shedding more than a shred of doubt on the IDF's readiness for the war and its conduct during the fighting.
"We are winning the war," Olmert declared several times in the last weeks of the conflict, but Israelis now appear to feel anything but victorious. However, both politicians and senior IDF commanders agree that Israel enjoyed unprecedented international support in the campaign, combined with a solid internal consensus, both of which underscore the question of the IDF's failure to achieve the campaign's objectives.
'Aerial dominance' failure
As recently as June, the IDF held an exercise based on a scenario in which an incident whereby Hizbullah kidnapped an IDF soldier quickly develops into a wide-scale conflict in Lebanon. During the exercise, the IDF launch a week-long air and land stand-off campaign against Hizbullah, as the Shi'ite militia respond with rocket attacks on Israeli towns. After a week of air strikes and artillery, the IDF launch a ground operation, with three divisions taking over southern Lebanon and beginning a four-week cleansing operation to destroy Hizbullah's presence in the area.
On 12 July that scenario materialised with the abduction of two IDF servicemen during patrol along the Lebanese border. The IDF immediately recommended a massive operation, which will "set Lebanon back 20 years" as Gen Halutz phrased it.
The Israeli government approved the launch of an aerial campaign against Hizbullah to achieve three goals: to create the conditions of return of the abductees; to damage Hizbullah's military capabilities; and to push the Lebanese government to accept UN Security Council Resolution 1559 and assume sovereignty in southern Lebanon.
The IDF, while translating the directive into an operational plan, added another objective: to strengthen Israel's deterrent image. From that moment on, reality departed the exercise's scenario and the IDF's standing plans for a conflict in Lebanon were never executed.
Israel launched an aerial campaign, which for the first two weeks did little to reduce the rain of rockets Hizbullah poured daily on Israeli towns. After two weeks, a local skirmish along the border drew two IDF brigades into a long bloody battle in the village of Marun Al-Ras and later to the town of Bint Jbeil. By the fourth week, three IDF divisions were operating in Lebanon, struggling against Hizbullah's first line of defence - the Nasser brigade. Only on the 29th day did the Israeli Cabinet approve the expansion of the operation, which was initiated on 11 August - just hours before the UN approved a ceasefire resolution.
On the 33rd day, 13 August, when the ceasefire took effect, Hizbullah was still active in southern Lebanon and capable of launching more than 200 rockets on Israel, while the IDF still could not control southern Lebanon.
"Up until the fourth week, the IDF had not recommended a wider ground operation," claims Olmert, insinuating that Gen Halutz was opting for an aerial campaign, believing that Israel's "aerial dominance" could subdue Hizbullah.
"I never said an aerial campaign would suffice to prevail," Gen Halutz claimed. "The original plan was to combine an aerial campaign with a ground manoeuvre."
The result, however, was an indecisive operation, which was conducted ad hoc rather than based on a comprehensive plan, and which revealed a series of flaws within the IDF, including:
The reserve army, the IDF's main ground force, was exposed in the campaign as an insufficiently trained and equipped force. Years of negligence, due to budgetary constraints, brought highly motivated but sometimes poorly equipped units into Lebanon. "We have been warning for years on the deterioration of the reserve army, through its lack of training," claimed Gen Halutz. There's a consensus among senior IDF officers that the reserves will have to undergo a significant upgrade effort.
The anti-tank threat emerged as the most serious challenge to the IDF. Operating Kornet-E and Metis-M anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), Hizbullah successfully destroyed 14 Israeli Merkava Mk 2, 3 and 4 main battle tanks (MBTs). In response, the Israeli MoD has ordered Rafael Armament Development Authority to accelerate preparations for production of its Trophy active protection system (APS) for future IDF procurement. Israel Military Industries (IMI) has also been asked to complete development of its APS, dubbed Iron Fist, for IDF evaluation.
The Israel Air Force (IAF) is considered to have been the most successful service in fulfiling its goals. With more than 10,000 fighter sorties, the IAF attacked more than 7,000 targets in Lebanon, initiating its new F-16I Soufa multirole fighters, which took significant part in the campaign. Based on accurate intelligence, the IAF is believed to have destroyed more than 50 per cent of Hizbullah's arsenal of long-range rockets in the first hour of the campaign. Striking storage facilities and launchers of the Zelzal 1 and 2, the Fajr 3 and 5, the Raad 1 and Khaibar 1 rockets, Hizbullah was capable of launching only several dozen longer-range rockets during the war. "Moreover, 90 per cent of long-range rocket launchers which fired were destroyed immediately after [launching their salvos]," a senior IAF source told Jane's. However, IDF field commanders have complained about insufficient air support during the ground battles, mostly of attack helicopters, as a result of the anti-aircraft missiles threat.
Military intelligence provided information about Hizbullah capabilities, both in artillery rockets and in ATGMs. However, it was not able to provide the IDF with accurate intelligence on the whereabouts of Hizbullah's political and military leadership, which the IDF wished to target. Also, field commanders claimed, information on Hizbullah's ground alignment of tunnels and bunkers in southern Lebanon was insufficient.
Rocket threats proved impossible to suppress from the air, nor was it easy from the ground. However this lesson is not new to Israel, which has been dealing with artillery rockets from Lebanon and the Gaza Strip for years. Nevertheless, Peretz has ordered a re-examination of potential protection systems, such as the Nautilus project - based on the Tactical High Energy Laser.
The Israel Navy (IN) suffered a severe blow in the war, with its Sa'ar 5 class flagship, INS Hanit, hit by an Iranian-made C-802 'Noor' anti-ship-guided missile. "The Hanit's multi-layered protection systems were not activated at the time of the attack as we were not aware of such threats in the Lebanese arena," a senior IN source told Jane's. While the Hanit did not sink, IN sources acknowledge that the incident could impact upon the IN's plans for future procurement of additional corvettes.
The IDF's Logistics Corps failed to supply some units inside Lebanon during the fighting with food, water and ammunition. "In some cases we couldn't secure a land route for supplies so we sought other ways, such as airlift supplies," said Major General Avi Mizrahi, Head of IDF Logistics Directorate. "We have found ourselves operating without a logistical tail," an IDF field commander told Jane's.
The next round
"We cannot ignore that some Arab countries consider Hizbullah's resistance to the IDF a success," a senior IDF source admitted. The IDF fears that the ongoing fighting by Hizbullah against IDF tanks and infantry in Lebanon's southern villages is perceived in the Arab world, particularly in Syria, as a sign of Israeli weakness.
"In this respect I cannot say we have deepened our deterrent image," added the source.
Indeed, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad praised Hizbullah for "defeating the Israeli Army" in a speech in Damascus on 15 August, pledging to "liberate the Golan Heights by our own hands". Attempting to circumvent IAF and armour superiority, Syria has for years invested in ATGMs instead of tanks, in surface-to-surface missiles, which could threaten the Israeli rear, and in surface-to-air missile systems that could challenge the IAF.
Israel fears that Hizbullah's success in operating Syrian- and Iranian-supplied weapons could accelerate additional procurement of such systems and might encourage Syria to experiment with a military confrontation.
With Israel fearing that the recent conflict with Hizbullah will not be the last and could also mark the prelude for a future confrontation with Iran, calls are growing for a quick rehabilitation of the IDF to prepare it for what could be the "next round".
The war in numbers
33 days of fighting
Israeli casualties: 119 servicemen, 41 civilians
Lebanese casualties: At least 900 civilians and 500 Hizbullah fighters
Rockets fired on Israel: 3,970
Israel Air Force sorties: 15,500
Targets struck in Lebanon: 7,000
Hizbullah rocket launchers destroyed: 126
Israeli MBTs destroyed: 20 (6 to mines and 14 to ATGMs - they were all Merkava Mk 2,3 or 4s)
IAF aircraft shot down: 1
IAF aircraft lost in accidents: 4
Israel Navy operational hours: 8,000
IDF Artillery shells fired: more than 100,000
Source: Israel Defence Force
All times are GMT - 6 Hours