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    Friday, July 21, 2006

    Israeli IDF Magic - turn failed air war into failed land assault

    Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, was bragging last week about bombing Lebanon back 20 years.Now his military colleagues have been stunned by the failure of Israel's massive air war against Hizbullah. The huge, unending aerial assualt has been shrugged off and the rocket attacks continue. So much for Patriot missiles.

    "Air power is not the answer here," a senior officer said in despair. 'You have to go from one Hizbullah [weapons] bunker to another. Some of these bunkers are seven meters deep and can't be destroyed by aircraft, even if you could find them."

    Military sources attached to Western embassies claim Halutz was convinced that communications and air power rather than troops would rapidly win Israel's wars. Reports persist that air force was surprised by its failure to halt or even reduce Hizbullah rocket strikes.

    Only a month ago, Lt. Col. Itay Brun explained the concept of Israel's military. The concept envisioned an army based largely on special operations units and backed by air power.

    As Brun described it, most of Israel's operations would be conducted from the air. Fighter-jets would destroy guerrilla strongholds, helicopters would pick off enemy combatants while unmanned aerial vehicles would select and track targets. Most of the tactics would also be used in a conventional war.

    "The next challenge is to win the war against terrorism and guerrillas from the air," Brun, adviser to Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, told a military conference.

    As a result, the General Staff are panicking and has approved the entry of at least 5,000 troops (mostly reservists and conscripts) in Lebanon in a limited search-and-destroy mission for Hizbullah rockets in villages near the Israeli border. So far, about 3,000 soldiers have been deployed in southern Lebanon, where attack aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles have failed to detect and battle Hizbullah fighters.

    To add to their woes , On Friday, two AH-64A Apache attack helicopters (the most advanced killing mcahine in the world) crashed in northern Israel near the Lebanese border. The military said a pilot was killed and another four soldiers were injured as the helicopters sought to support troops in Lebanon.

    Israel's advanced technology is failing to detect, and does not stop Hizbullah assaults. Military sources said Hizbullah quickly developed methods to penetrate Israel's C4I [command, control, communications, computers and intelligence] border system, based on advanced sensors and heavy air surveillance.

    Hizbullah, sources claim, learned how to disable cameras and exploit blind spots to cut through the border fence and attack Israeli military positions. They said this was how a small Hizbullah force attacked an Israeli border post on July 12 and abducted two soldiers.

    The military acknowledged that for more than one hour commanders were unaware that soldiers had been taken to Lebanon. Commanders said they were caught off guard by Hizbullah's mastery of anti-tank weapons, mortars and platoon-sized maneuvers.

    "It may be that we don't have our priorities straight," said [Res.] Maj. Gen. Yiftah Ron-Tal, who until 2005 headed the Ground Forces Command.

    To some strategists, the Israeli concept of air power was doomed to failure. In a lecture at Tel Aviv University in March, [Res.] Maj. Gen. Yaakov Amidror, a former head of military intelligence research, warned that ground forces and tanks have remained far more flexible and resilient than aircraft.

    "The policymakers must understand the limitations of the air force," Amidror said. "My feeling is that the air force does not sufficiently stress its weaknesses."

    If the air war is converted to a ground war , memories will recur of the retreat from Lebanon previously. The much vaunted invincibility of the IAF, the F16's is being tested in the melting pot.

    When will there be calls to sue for peace ?


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