Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Where We Messed Up In This War. Mistaken Concept.

In Today's Haaretz. There was an interesting piece by Reuven Pedatzhur (who I usually disagree with.) Today he said something that struck a chord with me.

He claimed that part of the failure of the war is rooted in a mistaken "concept." The notion of an error in concept goes back to the Agranat Commison of inquiry to the failures of the Yom Kippur War. They assesed that the country, leadership and army, were simply in a psychological trance - believing too much in the power of the army, and seeing the enemy as incapable of mustering a fight. The mistake lies, not in training, nor management, but something deep in the mindset that underlies the entire army mechanism. With all the obvious differences between the two wars, he compares 1973 to 2006. This is what he says:

The commission of inquiry that now hopefully will be set up will quickly conclude that on the eve of the second Lebanon war, the IDF - and consequently policy makers - were working with two mistaken concepts.

First, over the past six years, Israelis came to believe a large-scale fight against Hezbollah would not be necessary: Any military actions in southern Lebanon would be limited and short. Second, if a war arose against Hezbollah, the IDF would dismantle the organization within a few days, break its command backbone and end the fighting under conditions favorable to Israel.

And this is how we entered the war.

The army led the prime minister and his cabinet to believe that the air force would annihilate Hezbollah's fighting capability within several days and that thereafter a new situation would prevail in Lebanon.

On the basis of these promises, Ehud Olmert set ambitious objectives for the war, which of course were unattainable. Just as before the Yom Kippur war, there was a destructive combination of arrogance, boastfulness, euphoria and contempt for the enemy. The generals were so certain of the air force's success that they did not prepare an alternative. And when it became clear after about one week that Hezbollah was not disintegrating and that its ability to fire rockets had not been significantly thwarted, the IDF found itself in a state of acute distress and embarrassment. This is the reason for the hesitancy in using force and the lack of determination in the use of the ground forces.

This is all pretty worrying. He continues:

.....The arrogance and the overconfidence that characterized the top brass left the home front unprotected. If it was clear that the air force would destroy the rocket launch pads within a few days, why call on the residents of the north to prepare the air raid shelters and stockpile food? We know the outcome: More than one million people sat for more than one month in stinking shelters, some of them without food or minimal conditions.

The second critiques goes to the lack of preparedness in the Army, and apparent waste of funds:

.... the inquiry commission should look into the home front command. Millions of shekels were invested in this command. A major general, brigadiers general, colonels and many other officers and soldiers man this command. And what was its contribution to the war? Warning notices broadcast over the radio and televisions about alarms and sirens. That's it. For more than a month, the entire command made do with drafting public notices about seeking shelter and staying in interior rooms. Where was this command over the past six years? Was it not its task to examine and check whether the shelters were satisfactory?

...The state allocates some 11 billion dollars annually for the defense budget. Almost 15 percent of the GNP is devoted to security. (The official figure is 10 percent, but this does not include all the investments in security issues). But when the reservists are called up, they discover that they lack basic equipment: flak jackets, helmets, vehicles and even stretchers. Entire units were forced to fight more than 24 hours without food or water. Where did the money go?

And I think we are all waiting for some good answers.

Well, at least, to get the ball rolling, a review committee has been set up. Is this simply a goverment sponsored cover-up, or will it seriously and objectively examine the war. Let's see.

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