Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Tactical Moves

Yesterday I discussed the overall plan for taking out Syria. Today I'd like to look at a bit more tactical detail. I'm going to use as my foil this Y-Net article To the Litani River - from the North. The plan is presented by Brig. Gen. (res.) Dr. Roni Barrett formerly an officer in the IDF tank corps.

The General starts our explaining why the Israeli Army must go north of the Litani. He says that the Israeli Army must go that far north to keep the shorter range rockets out of Israel. In this he is correct.

He then goes on:

This war will not end with a crushing victory with an unconditional surrender (such as World War II), or with a total humiliation of one side (such as the Six Day War). Because of this, Israel should have conducted the war in such a way that it would be clear that Hizbullah lost.
He is wrong here as I explained in Tactics, Strategy, Grand Strategy and Syria Has a Problem. Syria and Iran will be decisively defeated. Hizbollah will be out on the street with a tin cup.
It doesn't matter how much you hit the enemy, the fact that he still manages to survive, and even manages to carry on his daily affairs of firing 100 or more rockets at Israel daily – means they have won.

We should have worked quickly and determinedly to stop the katyushas, if not for the sake of our "terrific home front," then at least in order to strike a blow to Nasrallah's political-image standing.
Now he is correct if Hizbollah and Syria and Iran remain intact. Not going to happen. He is totally right on about home front morale being crucial to winning the war with the plan I have described. How is home front morale? Read I Hope You Get Called Up. In short morale is excellent or better.

The next thing the general talks about is occupation. He mentions that the Lebanese Army is not strong enough to occupy Southern Lebanon in the face of Hizbollah opposition. True. However, with the defeat of Syria and Iran Hizbollah will wither on the vine. Even the Lebanese Army will be able to hold its own against an unsupported Hizbollah.
There are several principles for waging war. These include continuous attacks and concentration of power. To this point, the ground campaign, media reports suggest, has been conducted with startling ignorance for these rules.

Instead of being aggressive we are hesitant; instead of continuous, we hold our fire for extended periods; instead of concentrating our forces, we provide a slow trickle.

The media quotes army officers who rightly complain about this "half-pregnant" philosophy. Even in this war there should be a minimal critical mass.
Notice how he keeps emphasizing "the media"? I wonder if he is in on the real plan? The rest is standard military strategy and tactics. I explain why they were "violated" in Tactics, Strategy, Grand Strategy. Bottom line? The IDF/Olmert Government wished to seem incompetent in order to entice the enemy.
In consideration of the first three points, this minimum must be the Awali River, but there are also strategic-operational reasons for this.

Except for the (slightly amazing) incursions to Baalbek and Tyre, we have yet to hear about broad processes based on the principle of guile or "alternative approaches."

Even though Hizbullah has got a strong, well-trained guerilla army waiting for our forces north of the border, the IDF attacks head on, rather than outflanking them.

In light of this path, the ground war should not only have reached the Awali River, it should have started from there. We should have used the air force and navy to place the thrust of our forces in the area (and perhaps even infiltrated from the east), and we should have attacked north-to-south, cutting off Hizbullah from its home front. The Awali is a most appropriate line to accomplish this.
Not too bad. Now let me show why this plan the general outlines is also a deception plan.

Any encirclment north of the Litani will be a feint. The real action will be the move towards the Bekaa. When the right flank of the encirclement movement makes its left turn a blocking force will be sent up on the road to the Bekaa. The blocking force will really be the hammer. Light forces will be inserted North of Ballbeck to act as the anvil. They need only have anti-tank and light artillery. The heavy artillery will be air cover. Think Market Garden (WW2 Holland - a Bridge Too Far) without the failure. The light forces will be on the defensive. The strongest tactical position. Thus the force need not be over a regiment or two in size.

Syria will be forced to attack ( see Syria Has a Problem ) they will mostly be defeated on the road. This will draw Iran in.

At the end of all this the Palestinians will be told by their Arab brothers to take what they can get and shut up. The new rule in the Middle East will be business not war.

Game, set, match.

Update: 09 Aug '06 0000z

Gates of Vienna discusses this piece and also Syria has a Problem (link above).

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eyesallaround said...

Well said. It will be interesting to watch it unfold. In the meantime, this gem from that idiotarian Iranian website "Fars News":

"Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei stressed that the entire Islamic society must defend the Lebanese Hezbollah."

I'm reading a book you'd like (if you haven't already read it), "Guns of August" about WWI. Lots of details on strategy (of which I'm completely ignorant)... both WWI and military strategy... I guess that's why I like your blog:>)... strategy in real time!

M. Simon said...


"Guns of August" by B. Tuchman. Excellent.

May I also suggest "Strategy" by B.H.L. Hart which covers the strategic aspects of WW1, WW2, and some parts of Israel's 1948 War. Lots of other wars too.

Also excellent for a strategist is the Dorsai novels by Dickson. They used to be on the Army recommended reading list.

Thanks for the compliment. I do this for my pleasure and the enjoyment of my readers.

And thanks for the links!!!!!!!!

Bless you,


M. Simon said...

Re: the Fars News bit.

The Iranians will be forced to come in. Maybe the 22 Aug bit. Mabe there is another reason. It may just be that if Syria falls their plan for world conquest tanks. Or something.

My crystal ball is cloudy on that one.

Cogitatus Incognito said...

M. Simon, thanks for this excellent series of posts. I'd add in support the following: if anyone thinks that in the days after 9-11 when Rumsfeld, Cheney and the rest sat down to map out our strategy, they somehow didn't take Iran into consideration as the primary source of terrorism in the modern world, then they really don't know either man's record very well. I cannot imagine that group of men setting out a plan of action that did not include final victory. The plan has probably changed across the last five years, but they didn't surround Iran on two sides by mistake. And now, notice that Bush and Rice stick to their guns about not returning to the status quo ante. I'd bet my oldest child's life they have a well-thought-out plan and are working it day-by-day. Bush, like any good poker player has allowed, almost encouraged Iran to up the ante on its bad hand. They think him a fool. They think they've got the winning hand. They keep upping the pot like a manic on a ten-day drunk. Like you, I'm guessing we'll see some major changes around August 22nd. I'm just glad I've lived long enough to see the Iranians finally pay for taking over our embassy and all the pain they've caused in the last thirty years.

eyesallaround said...

Thanks for the suggestion MSimon, I'll look into it! And... Amen to Marks comment about finally getting even with the mulllaaaahhs for 1979!

Anonymous said...

Yes, M. Simon, terrific work!

But since I'm thinking Olmert's more like Golda Meir, than either Bibi or Sharon, I'd like to take a stab at what might be his mistakes. And, why he may not survive this, any better than Golda survived the Yom Kippur War.

Notice there's very little said today about Eshkol. Or Golda. Even Ben Gurion, seems a "grand old man" of the past. With so many changes in the landscape. Including the old world nature of the kibbutz system. And, the new economic model of BUSINESS. And, not just for the arabs!

Anyway, Golda had her Gonen and Bar Lev. And, in this summer match, some of Olmert's weaker points are showing up. Please let me explain.

He came into office with drag. Losing what Arik had built up, in introducing Kadima. And, the Settler's had taken it on the chin. What with Bibi losing so much.

SO? Olmert goes Golda. He knows he's not attractive, so out goes Mofaz. And, in comes a new batch of "Gonen/Bar Lev" oversight for the IDF. Which is not getting praised, now.

Unlike America (where I live), I take into consideration how closely Israelis pay attention to their soldiers. About 10,000 are fighting now. But the real number of fighters is around 200,000. All with families. All with opinions. And, all more roused towards victory than Olmert.

Olmert's biggest mistake was to suddenly go "alien" and have a "convergence." So, a lot of people are way more concerned with him; than they are with Arik, who's 2nd stroke made him a vegetable.

I thought it weird the way Olmert sat his team in the Knesset. But he fears stronger men. SO, for him, it was easy to sit Amir Putz into the Defense chair.

Again, Golda would have done the same.

Her complaint against Arik, after 1967's success, was that he wasn't allowed to advance. Because Labor was in charge. "And, he wasn't one of us."

Of course, I could be wrong. Olmert may be a genius, like Bush, in that people think he's an idiot, so they ante up to the betting table. While the best cards remain hidden.

If I'm wrong? Bibi's chances at the next election don't grow. If I'm right? The next election is just around the corner. CAROL HERMAN

M. Simon said...


Excellent points.


Every point you make is true. Each strengthens the deception plan. The essence of good military planning is to turn weakness into strength.

The Israeli cabinent is about to authorize a move north of the Litani. Once the move starts it will be hold onto your hats time.


As you know i counted the move out of Gaza a plus. It has destroyed all illusions giving national unity. Hardly any one can say "if only". The move out of Gaza was the Sharon plan.

BTW I really liked:

Of course, I could be wrong. Olmert may be a genius, like Bush, in that people think he's an idiot, so they ante up to the betting table. While the best cards remain hidden.

I definitely agree about Bush the poker player. He has gotten the Iranians to bet everything, because America and Israel have a weak hand. Now they are out of chips and have to bet the farm. (Yeeehaaaa) He is going to clear the table. Look up my piece "Tactics of Mistake" which is a review of Bush and the novel of the same name by Dickson.

Anonymous said...

In reply, M. Simon,

I agree that getting out of Gaza was brilliant. And, that Arik Sharon knew the weaknesses in the "cobbled together Likud." So many Israeli politicians are masters at extortion. So "unity" is only a word used by Arik Sharon to get Labor out of the driver's seat. Letting Menachem Begin, and Shamir,drive, only pulled Israel back to Ben Gurion's fantasy of an idealistic socialist state.

Olmert, however, has a weak man's propensity to surround himself with ugly ducklings. He wants no "Snow White" stealing his limelight. Unfortunately for him, it seems Amir Putz is willing to fight harder; with less experience all around, than Olmert. Who should go to the closet and borrow Golda's old skirts.

It's just a matter of time before he flops. And, deception fails if you're really incompetent. (Just ask Bar Lev!) Remember that pick? That was still supposed to sit on Arik Sharon's head. CAROL HERMAN

Anonymous said...

(What would Dyan do?)

PaladinTiberius said...


its not just about the '79 hostage taking. THIS IS ABOUT EVERY SINGLE F@CK#NG ATROCITY committed by these crazy mullahs. While I'm at it, include those illiterate fundamentalists as well.

amazing how the left cries foul over this war, little do they know that, unchecked, the scourge will target them next. So onwards with the war.

im not a warmonger, nor a peacenik.i do however think that its time to take a stand, and stand with America and the West I will.