Thursday, February 14, 2008

America Again Benefits from Israel's Experience

The last Lebanon War might not have been very successful for Israel, with hundreds of Katyusha rockets making northern Israel unlivable and Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser still being held captive by Hezbollah terrorists, but the United States is learning from Israel's experience.

Once again, it looks as if we will save American lives thanks to Israel.

U.S. learns from Israel-Hezbollah war

By Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON - Senior Pentagon officials are using a classified Army study on the 2006 war between Israel and the militant group Hezbollah to retool the U.S. military's combat strategy for future wars.

That means focusing on heavy armor, such as Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles; more body armor; and unmanned aircraft that can monitor enemy activity and fire missiles at enemy fighters.

Such an approach conflicts with the current emphasis on counterinsurgency operations, which are being waged in Iraq and Afghanistan. Counterinsurgency tactics could leave U.S. forces vulnerable to the kind of coordinated attacks that stymied Israel.

TROOPS AT RISK: Combat discussions, investigations into military readiness, interactive graphics and more

"It's not just counterinsurgency," said Rickey Smith, of the Army Capabilities Integration Center-Forward Office. "This was a wake-up call to all of us as analysts."

The study by the Center for Army Analysis, which provided an unclassified version to USA TODAY, stresses that guerrillas armed with high-tech equipment can fight a modern military force to a standstill.

The Army has identified several lessons, according to Smith. They include:

  • Train soldiers to use a full range of combat skills, not just how to conduct counterinsurgency operations against an enemy with limited weapons.
  • Equip soldiers with vehicles that can take blasts and shoot down rockets; sensors that can detect enemy tunnels; and unmanned planes that provide video of enemy activity. In President Bush's 2009 budget, the Army asked for $3.6 billion to develop Future Combat Systems, a suite of vehicles, weapons, sensors and communication equipment.
  • Conduct a media campaign during such conflicts to get out the U.S. message to local and international audiences. Soldiers skilled in communication need to be on the front line not for propaganda, but to explain U.S. actions.

"It's still going to boil down to a human contest," Smith said. "But we don't want it to be a fair fight. We want to win with overwhelming force."

Members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Secretary Pete Geren and Marine Commandant James Conway have seen the classified version of the briefing.

"The Army's lesson is that it has to focus on a continuum of threats," said Dov Zakheim, former Defense Department comptroller and now a vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton. He has not seen the briefing but has studied the conflict.

Spending billions on the Army's Future Combat System to confront the threat would be the wrong approach, said Michael O'Hanlon, a military analyst at the Brookings Institution.

Read the rest on USA Today.

No comments: