The “Tabouleh Line?”

"Although the army had conquered the town, Hezbollah men were hiding in underground bunkers well camouflaged from the outside. The bunkers had been stocked with large quantities of food, enough to last for weeks, and ammunition, including antitank missiles and, in several cases, short-range rockets.

The bunkers are connected to electricity and, according to one report, are air conditioned. When the fighting dies down, Hezbollah fighters emerge from the bunkers and set up ambushes for IDF soldiers and armored vehicles.

That is why soldiers are hit repeatedly in the same places.

On several occasions, there have been difficulties evacuating wounded soldiers under fire. At times, Hezbollah fighters have fired rockets at Israel from areas close to the border that the IDF had supposedly conquered already. The means available to flush the guerrillas out of their underground shelters are not always employed."  Ze’ev Schiff in Ha’aretz


These fellows have had a lot of help from someone.  One does not learn how to organize and plan a deliberate defense like this from reading a few books.  They may have learned a good deal by reading about construction of such positions but the "art" of integrating all this into a coherent whole probably required outside help.  I would "vote" for the Iranians as "helpers."

It is to be expected that there may be further fortified belts to the north of this one.  "Belts" may not be an exact dexcription.  What I mean is a defense distributed in depth over a considerable distance.  It has usually been the case that command of a defense like this is facilitated by organizing the command structure into zones of some kind.

It begins to sound like an historic battle in the making.  The intention seems to have been clear.  It was to lure the Israelis into an attritional battle.

Pat Lang

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55 Responses to The “Tabouleh Line?”

  1. Nabil says:

    Hizbullah did this on their own. They know the IDF as well as anyone and they know the land. These hidden bunkers would not require expertise or money from outside.
    Hizbullah has been planning a defensive strategy for 6 years.

  2. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Do you know that for a fact?
    If that is so, then we have some of the greatest natural military planners and engineers there in Lebanon who have ever lived.

  3. Patrick Henry says:

    Col..Thyats my impression too..Very Good training and Preperation…Well Supplied…Organized..
    Wonder who the Advisors and instructors are..Nationalitys..??
    Location of Training Centers..
    All done this Covertly..??
    How many of these Hezbollan have traveled out of Lebanon for training..??
    Is this a Escalation of the Iranian ..Al Quaeda Ji`Had..Plan..??
    Beginning with 9/11 and follw up plans..??
    Where we suckered into iraq..??
    Why and How..
    Are the Israelis being Drawn into Traps..??
    Heavy loss’s..
    Urbal and Gurilla Fighting..Well Planned..
    Disregard for Cicilian life or Loss’s..
    Because its JIHAD..
    and Only JIHAD that Matters..
    More fanatical Goal oriented Aggression..?
    top Carry out the ULTIMATE Objective..
    I dont like the Civilains Being Pawns..or wasted for someones fanatical…vicious..brutal cause that has no regard for human Life..Not even thier OWN..
    Israel is in a tought spot to resolve this matter..
    All elements ought to turn against and condemn Hezbolla before they destroy Lebanon.(and they are willing to turn Lebanon into another iraq..).and demand they disarm..
    .or the Lebonese Army and police ought to help locate and disarm them.. and help bring Peace and stabalize the situation..
    WISDOM….Or WAR..??

  4. Ben P says:

    Well, to put my 2 cents in, I’d say that Iran has obviously been furnishing equipment and tactical advise.
    But I think Nabil is in part right as well.

  5. hk says:

    One does wonder if outside help is a necessary condition for building defenses like this–if I understand correctly, both NVA and VC became experts in tunnel building, with similar features as these tunnels, and they did so while constantly under heavy attack. I imagine that the conditions available for Hizbullah in southern Lebanon might have been more favorable, plus, I have to suspect that these folks probably know their enemy much better than the Vietnamese communists knew us.

  6. Duncan Kinder says:

    OK, I’ll bite.
    By “from someone,” you mean Iran.
    Presumably, any United States ‘ action against Iran which would include physical invasion, therefore, would be at least as unpleasant as that which Israel now is facing in Lebanon.
    It would follow that, at minimum, the United States should adjust any potential action against Iran to take these sorts of defensive capabilities into account.

  7. ckrantz says:

    There also seems to have been serious intelligence failures by the israelis. Had this adventure been well planned they should have had a better understanding of the extent of the preparations made by hizbullah. Or am I missing something?
    If the idea was to knock-off the hizbullah supporting arm in lebanon to make an attack on iran easier someone sure seem to have miscalculated. Assuming most of southern lebanon have similarly prepared positions hizbullah should be able to keep fighting for a long time and keep a large parts of IDF busy chasing guerillas. It looks to me like a lebanese version of iraq.
    I wonder when the washington foreign policy establisment will wake up and see that the middle east is ready to explode and that the administration lives in a fantasyland when it comes to foreign policy with an urgent need of adult supervision.

  8. Ghostman says:

    Well, if you stick your hand further into a hornet’s nest, you probably just get stung more! Perhaps the IDF should get out the history books. Study up on the battles of Okinawa and Iwo Jima. Those historical lessons should paint a pretty grim picture for the IDF. Will the IDF learn from history?
    And what of the timeline, say 5-6 years out? Suppose the IDF fights this grueling battle and prevails. Hizbollah forces are finished. Will Nasrallah announce a general surrender? I doubt it. Time will pass, and future Hizbollah fighters will filter back into S. Lebanon. They are children today, they will be fighters tomorrow. And they will learn even more from these lessons of today. Iran, unless obliterated, will train today’s children to be tomorrows fighters. Only no doubt, better armed than the fighters of today. And filled with even more hate for Israel, for tomorrows fighters, children today, will have seen their family members killed.
    I continue to question Israeli long-term thinking on this conflict. And I continue to worry that factions in Israel and in DC seem hell-bent on dragging us into an ultimate conflict with Iran.

  9. ckrantz says:

    And by the way do this haaretz article sound familiar to anyone else?
    ‘Reserve soldiers called up for duty in the North are reporting a severe lack of equipment and major problems with equipment they have been issued, unsuitable protection during Katyusha fire, and insufficient food.
    “I feel like we’ve been thrown into the field and told to get along,” Ram Dagan, who serves with a combat unit called up to the Lebanese border 10 days ago, said on his first leave. “I’m not talking about showers, not even about the food that’s lacking, but about basic equipment to protect us. The helmets we’ve been issued are old-fashioned and hardly can be closed, and the body armor is 30 years old. It doesn’t close on the sides or on the neck. We don’t have a place to take shelter from rocket attack, and we are under fire all the time. We’ve been told that when we come under fire we should go into the APCs. But there are too many soldiers and not enough APCs. And anyway, they’re not missile-proof,” he said. ‘

  10. mt says:

    I thought someone had previously mentioned Hizbullah was employing a Viet Cong style network of tunnels as part of it’s defense. Today, the media identified North Korea as assisting in the construction of bunkers. In any event, someone other than Hizbullah has been busy.

  11. b says:

    The tactic of underground bunkers behind the enemies back sounds like Vietnam. Maybe Giap gave them a few lessons.
    It definitly does NOT sound like Iranian or Syrian training.
    There are good books available on Vietnam and why is it not possible that there are some really smart guys with Hizbullah who have read and did understand them?

  12. Hannah K. O'Luthon says:

    The surprises from southern Lebanon continue without stop. The presence of an elaborate network of sophisticated bunkers which were not well-documented
    and mapped out by Israeli military intelligence is astounding, given the daily
    reconnaissance flights, frequent intrusions, and almost certain attempts at penetration of Hezbollah (or at least Lebanese) lines of communciation by Unit 8200, not to mention satellite surveillance. How could such major construction projects go undetected in an area which is contiguous to Israel and under constant surveillance?
    It may be that Israeli military intelligence has indeed failed very badly at the tactical level. Perhaps the vaunted bravura of Mossad, Lakam, Unit 8200 and all their ilk by now lies mainly in their expertise at psywar disinformation and political blackmail of the type needed to maintain effective control over both parties and the “docile” media in the U.S. (with Rupert Murdoch assuming the role formerly played by Robert Maxwell). In this they still seem unsurpassed, but perhaps that’s just my gullibility emerging.
    Naturally, it rankles to see Hezbollah fighting so effectively in South Lebanon
    while the presumably highly defended strip between Forte Meade, Maryland and
    Arlington, Virginia has fallen to Israeli forces without a shot being fired either on or after September 11.

  13. m.hasan says:

    I have read reports (all western and Israeli) that say that there are complex fortifications and deep tunnel systems and that HA received some help from the Syrians, Iranians, N Koreans and even some German Companies .
    Other reports deny the truth of those reports and consider them a mere exaggeration designed to give an excuse for the failures of the IDF. Consider the air conditioning part in the analysis you quote. Consider the claim that Iranians are fighting with HA fighters or that Iranian experience was used to attack the military Israeli vessel. These exaggerations remind me of similar ones made by the Americans before the invasion of Iraq. Similar claims of deep bunkers built by N Koreans and that turned out to be mere holes like the one Saddam Husein was using for hiding.
    It is reasonable to say that no one knows exactly the truth, which requires us to wait until this war ends. However, I would like to add here that I noticed that even Hasan Nasralla expressed his astonishment of the achievements of his men when he described it as a miracle that they are still fighting in the front line up till this moment. This was apparent in his speech yesterday and the one before that (I will try to find a transcript). His surprise indicates that whatever the techniques they are using, they are not that sophisticated. Besides, I do not think that he used N Korean or German expertise because he said from the start that his strength stems from the fact that the Israeli’s did not penetrate HA. Among the Israeli failures he enumerated was the intelligence failure and he described the Israelis with all their might as a blind giant who does not know his way and using his power indiscriminately.
    Regarding your comment:
    “It is to be expected that there may be further fortified belts to the north of this one. It begins to sound like an historic battle in the making.”
    One commentator with good links with HA said that HA has prepared itself for a 4-phase war and each phase with very different tactics. Phase 2 begins with expansion and widening of the ground operation . He added that tactics and weapons that will be used by HA in phase 2 are very different than the ones already used in phase 1 and will be a surprise to Israel. He added that tactics used so far will look like a child’s toy compared to the ones that will be used in phase 2 and I guess that we have to wait and see. From the beginning, Nasralla considered Olmert, Peretz, and Halutz as naïve and stupid believing that they will exterminate HA in a week or two. His words were that invasion of south Lebanon will be a catastrophe for the Israeli army and that they should consult more experienced Generals before embarking on this folly. They probably thought that he is just bluffing. This commentator also said that thousands of HA fighters have been deployed and they are waiting for the Israelis.

  14. zanzibar says:

    “These fellows have had a lot of help from someone.” – PL
    If you had to speculate who could it be?
    “The bunkers had been stocked with large quantities of food, enough to last for weeks” –
    How long is “weeks”? 2,4,16??? This would be important as their re-supply must be limited.
    With the UN cease-fire resolution going nowhere fast this could get ugly for both sides. And it seems the IDF will make a more forceful push with a new commander who was ex-Golani Brigade commander.

  15. billmon says:

    If they didn’t learn how to fight like this on their own, who would have taught them? The Syrians? Then why aren’t they in downtown Tel Aviv right now? The Iranians? Did they teach them how to use little boys as human mine sweepers?
    I did hear or read somewhere that Hizbullah has been getting advice from some old NVA and Viet Cong vets. Which makes sense to me — why not the best?

  16. zanzibar says:

    I continue to be impressed by Haaretz for publishing a wide range of opinion including hard hitting dissent to current Israeli policy. This report by Aluff Benn is astounding.
    The defense establishment’s proposal to expand the Israel Defense Forces operation in Lebanon was approved by a large majority of cabinet ministers on Wednesday: Nine ministers backed the proposal, while three abstained. But according to some attendees, the results of the vote do not reflect the ministers’ true opinions. “If everyone voted the way they spoke, there would be a majority opposing the proposal,” one minister said. So why didn’t anyone vote against the proposal? We were afraid, the minister explained, of showing the public and the Hezbollah that there are rifts within the government and cracks in its support for the IDF.
    The problem is that such cracks exist and no one is really making an effort to hide them anymore. Rifts between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz. Rifts between Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz. And those between the head of the Mossad, Meir Dagan and Head of the Imtelligence Corps, Amos Yadlin. And between Peretz and his predecessor, Shaul Mofaz and between Mofaz and Avi Dichter. One of those present summed the situation up by saying, “everyone was involved in at least one quarrel.”

    In the end, his salvation came from Condoleezza Rice. The U.S. Secretary of State called to inform the cabinet of expected progress in talks over a UN resolution which have so far been unfruitful. Livni had earlier conditioned her support for the proposal on a “timeout” to pursue a diplomatic resolution first before going ahead with the operation. As a result of Rice’s news, Olmert and Livni managed to convince Peretz that the operation should be postponed for at least 48 hours. And so the cabinet meeting ended in a rather predictable compromise: Approval of an outline of the operation in principle, while postponing its implementation to allow for development in the UN talks. Troops, however, will take up positions in preparation for the operation. Israel is telling the UN “hold me back,” in efforts to prevent itself from getting swept up in any one decision and hoping for the best. Olmert’s moment of truth has been postponed, at least until Friday.
    “everyone was involved in at least one quarrel”. Wow! A war cabinet meeting. Looks like HA has rattled the Israeli cage!

  17. Michael says:

    If I can express my opinion I’d say Nabil is probably right because this is the most simple explanation, no Shaddoks here.
    And considering the article, the writer is overestimating Hezbollah capabilities and sees them as more powerfull than really are.
    I still remember the million soldiers army Saddam had ‘on the paper’ for the first Gulf War.
    “Air conditionned Bunker”? I am not sure Hezbollah has money to spent on leisury things, ac consummes lots of energy which does not come cheap nowadays.

  18. searp says:

    We know HA has help from many quarters, but I am on the fence here because the usual suspects would not be expected to be much more sophisticated than HA.
    I think PL’s more significant statement is on the nature of the battle. HA will want a war of attrition, Israel will want a blitz. I’d say HA will probably get its way. While Israel has temporary territorial objectives, the remaining unoccupied territory simply becomes the new safe haven/border, and I don’t see HA quitting.
    So: maybe the rocket threat goes away, but it is replaces by combat on the forward edge of the battle area, and Israel will take losses.

  19. blowback says:

    We are not talking about massive concrete contructions here. The structures are proably very similar to the underground nuclear shelters that are sold to individuals with more money than sense. The engineering would be straight forward. Anyone with a mining, civil or military engineering degree would be able to come up with the designs. I would even expect that a decent builder would have the necessary knowledge.
    The camoflaging of the construction work would be a pain but would not require great technical skill.
    The “original idea” is actually not very original. The British did it in 1940 although luckily they never had need of it. As Billmon points out, the Japanese frequently did it. Probably the Vietnamese did it. Other than these, I am hard put to think of anyone else who has used this approach.
    All three examples I cite above are well documented even if the documentation is a bit difficult to find but the web makes that a lot easier.
    So the knowledge is out there so although I can’t prove it, I can at least say it is possible verging on probable that this is a home-grown effort.
    So all Hezbollah really need is one man to come up with the idea and the west does not have a monopoly on innovative military thought. You just have to look at Vietnam for that.
    In some ways, I think that Hezbollah may have shown their cards too soon. For the best results for them , they should have waited until the Israelis were at the Litani River and then hit then in one go. The result could have been catastrophic for the Israeli. Now they will bring up the ground-penetrating radar, etc. to look for these bunkers and destroy them as they advance. However, this is will slow down the Israeli advance very dramatically.

  20. Mo says:

    Re-The Tabouleh line, I posted in another post about what Nasrallah said last night, which is that in this war, geography means nothing to HA so I doubt they’re strategem involves the classic “lines”.
    What Nabil says may or may not be fact but in the early 90’s Nasrallah said his aim was that the ressistance fight like guerillas but plan like an army. As such, HA as built engineering divisions, and departments with experts in all battlefield areas. I have no doubt they have recieved inital training and help, some even from Iran, and some merely by recruiting people educated in specialist areas, but that has long been turned into their own training and tactics adapted for the unique terrain of Lebanon. In fact, one of the resons the so called “HA captive” who “confessed” on Israeli TV was seen in Lebanon as bogus were his claims of going to Iran for training.
    As such, their planning and engineering is not “natural” but I dont think it comes from outside anymore.

  21. Paul says:

    Sounds like Hizbullah studied the tactics of the Viet Cong and improved upon them? Or the Jewish resistance in Warsaw during the Nazi occupation? That said, I do not doubt the assistance of the IRGC.

  22. Pan says:

    Did the Israelis see any sign of this extensive construction? If they missed this, that would certainly constitute a major intelligence failure.

  23. Nabil says:

    I don’t know it for a fact, but I don’t see what an Iranian could teach them about doing it that they don’t already know. Hizbullah have always believed that such an outbreak is probable. On that basis, they dotted the landscape with bunkers, and amassed all the katyushas they could, as a deterrent. It’s not the kind of line where you have to think about the relative positions of pillboxes and minefields and ditches and so on. It’s hiding places big enough to hold a few men, who can then observe and set up ambushes. Hizbullah have been observing and setting up ambushes for 20 years. They know more about it than anyone in Iran.
    I think people are just surprised that the IDF has not been able to ‘flush them out’, and is still taking casualties in the border villages.
    I am not saying that they don’t have Iranian help. Iran gave them these anti-tank missiles, silkworms, iglas, know-how on building reconnaissance drones, and buckets of cash. Much of the rest is learned from experience.

  24. Mo says:

    Re. all the comments on foreign contractors – Please guys try to think Lebanon not New York. How obvious would a team of North Koreans be in Southern Lebanon do you reckon?
    In regards to the fight if the Israelis try to push to the Litani, well in the words of Timor Goksel, former political adviser to the UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon,
    “What we are seeing so far are what they call ‘village reserves’ – that’s a very interesting thing. Hezbollah have not committed their troops yet,” he says.
    “What is in store for the Israelis if they go deeper, and then hold on to territory for a while, is that they are going to see the real combat in south Lebanon – a very classic insurgency and it will be a very costly one because then I think Hezbollah will commit its professional troops.”
    That would explain why Nasrallah is so surprised by what his troops have accomplished so far seeing as they were the not so proffessional ones.

  25. Chris Bray says:

    I’ve read about guerillas from the Tamil Tigers visiting the Bekaa Valley to train with Hezbollah, and members of the IRA meeting with Colombian narcoterrorists to trade notes. It seems to me that the learning model for organizations like Hezbollah is probably more of a conversation than a relationship between Iranian teachers and Lebanese students, or anything like that. Isn’t it possible that a whole international community is meeting in partnership to brainstorm approaches to fighting against the American way of war, which Israel — more about this in a moment – seems to have adopted. This model of tactical and strategic discussion would bring people with different interests and ideologies together around a common goal. I would bet good money that al-Qaeda’s leaders have all read the PLA’s book on “Unrestricted Warfare.” So Hezbollah may just be benefitting from a long and more general exchange of ideas and plans.
    Also, I wonder if American military support of Israel hasn’t come with an unrecognized cost, imposing our own idiotic, hardware-centric model of warfare on a historically tough army.

  26. david frost says:

    I would offer that it is communication, home turf advantage and clarity of purpose that is giving Hezbollah some success. This is their home turf, and they have had time to prepare, but their greatest gift is that they have developed a good C&C structure with good communications.
    Reporters always mention how a civilian type guy with a radio or cell phone is always nearby checking things out and then they disappear just as rapidly to report to their local leader. They clearly have situational awareness when it comes to moving assets before the IAF comes in to bomb them.
    The IDF on the other hand probably get conflicting orders all the time down their chain of command reacting to the days political pressures. Their goals and tactics change daily.
    I’ll wait till more information comes up about tunnel networks and bunkers, like was mentioned before, exaggerating your enemies prowess often starts at the front line and gets repeated to reporters eager to break news.
    I think there is irony that in today’s hi-tech warfare, that vehicles (tanks and APC’s) have become more of a liability due to the increasinly accurate nature of shoulder launched ordinance and the large target they present.

  27. John in LA says:

    I think Nabil is right. We’re wasting a lot of energy trying to track the evidentiary source of Hizbullah tactics/materials.
    They fight with Russian equipment and Viet Cong tactics. That’s not rocket science. And if we can “prove” that they came from Syria and Iran — well, that’s blindingly obvious as well.
    And so what? We provide Israel with cluster bombs, white phosphorous, satellite intel, F-16s and nuclear weapons!
    What I don’t fully understand is their will to fight. And I might say that, regardless of their motivation, one has to admire their tenacity.
    The Palestinians I get — The Israelis stole their land and I’d be fighting Israelis too.
    But the Hizbollah don’t want to occupy Israel.
    Clearly, they want to occupy Beirut and make a Shia/fundamentalist Islamic State. And they correctly surmised — the politics has really been artful — that to lure the Israelis into a killbox they could achieve that goal.
    Plus–when they send up a flare for the Shia of Iraq to declare war on U.S. “occupiers” — well, you can forsee almost anything — revisitation of the Iraqi claim (not without logic) to Kuwait; Palestinian overthrow of the Hashemite dictatorship/monarchy; Hamas declaration of an Islamic State in New Jordan….and all we (the US) is left with is the mid-twentieth century petro dictatorships of the soft-palms Sheikhs and the mid 20th-century Pinochet-style Police dictatorship in Egypt.
    Oh…you say you wanted a clean break?

  28. As usual, well said despite some details in question, the money para is right at the end:
    “It begins to sound like an historic battle in the making. The intention seems to have been clear. It was to lure the Israelis into an attritional battle.”
    The implications are pretty intense.

  29. Alex says:

    If this is the Tabouleh Line, and the next one is the Shawarma Line, would it be true to say that Hezbollah are drawing the Israelis into a hoummous?

  30. mike says:

    I agree with those above who speculate that the bunkers are a homegrown effort. It does not take a rocket scientist to design bunkers (even concrete ones). As for the air conditioning in fighting bunkers, my suspicions are that something was lost in translation. It was probably meant to mean some type of primitive air circulation system. A bunkered hospital or aid station on the other hand may possibly have been built with AC.
    However, I do believe someone in HA has been studying American military history – both Iwo Jima where we suffered 26,000 casualties (4,000 more than the defending japanese), and possibly Cowpens if speculation above re Hezbollan phase lines with different tactics at each line is correct.
    PS – Michael: I do not get the “Shaddoks” reference. Please excuse my density, but my only point of reference is a pomelo – WTH???

  31. chew2 says:

    “These fellows have had a lot of help from someone. One does not learn how to organize and plan a deliberate defense like this from reading a few books. They may have learned a good deal by reading about construction of such positions but the “art” of integrating all this into a coherent whole probably required outside help. I would “vote” for the Iranians as “helpers.”
    Great analyses. I really appreciate your insight.
    But I don’t think you are giving Hizbullah enough credit. They operate a whole civilian infrustructure, and large construction companies that rebuilt much of Lebanon. They are not technically simple rubes. They successfully fought a long guerilla war against the Israeli occupation. Since then they have been trading shots with the Israelis and anticipating their countermoves over the last 6 years. I don’t think Iranian or Syrian or Russian military doctrine has much to tell them about how to fight Israel. Although they no doubt need training in operating the advanced weaponry they’ve been supplied with.
    You seem to believe this is some prepared defense in depth. Perhaps it is nothing more than guerilla tactics, from prepared hiding places. It’s hard to tell whether HB is really defending fixed positions or not.
    The one question I have is whether Hizbullah still has an effective centralized command and control capability. Or whether all of this fighting is taking place on an independent decentralized basis. The fact that Hizbullah mostly stopped its rocket attacks during the 48 hour “cease fire” suggests HB still has some means of communicating with the field. Frankly I am surprised that their command and control remains so effective.

  32. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Closer to Beirut the Israelis may encounter the “Gucci Line.”

  33. zanzibar says:

    While negotiations flag, Israel’s cabinet has approved a wider, 30-day military campaign in Lebanon. “It’s going to be very bloody,” an Israeli official told me today. “The diplomacy is dead.”
    And the confrontation to come could make this one look like a sideshow. As summer turns to autumn we are likely to see the Hizbullah proxy war morph into an even uglier fight between the United States and Israel, on one side, and Iran, on the other. Israeli officials are increasingly forthright in saying that their current effort to neutralize Hizbullah, and Washington’s eager endorsement of this effort, is part of a larger strategic campaign being waged against Iran, one of Hizbullah’s chief sponsors, at a time when Tehran is getting fearfully feisty.

    I don’t know how much credence there is in this report and others with a similar theme on the plan to widen the conflict to Iran. But I suspect there is something to it for such stories to constantly be circulated in our corporate media. The Judy Miller’s and the WMD in Iraq stories are always a reminder that someone is planting these stories for a reason. I just hope that they are just stories and only for the purpose of racheting up the rhetoric as a backdrop to this November’s congressional elections. Anything further will be sheer insanity IMO.

  34. julie says:

    The Washington Post indicated that the Israeli public opposes an expanded ground war. Evidently they want victory without casualties.
    Israeli leaflets have evidently explicitely warned Lebanon that will make war on all the Lebanese people rather than doing so and having their supporters say that they only destroy rockets.

  35. Margaret Steinfels says:

    Somewhat tangential: I am reading Thomas Ricks, “Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq.” So many accounts of military mistakes–at almost every level–reported, it seems by the military itself and after-action reports.
    Two questions:
    First, what do the professional soldiers make of Ricks’ book?
    Second, has the IDF been training with the U.S. military (neocon division), helping to explain in Lebanon its poor showing, lack of over-all strategic planning, and inadequate intelligence gathering?

  36. BadTux says:

    Thing is, HA is not really using advanced weaponry. The most advanced weapon we’ve seen so far has been upgraded Saggers with Iran’s new two-stage warheads. These are literally 1950’s vintage anti-tank rockets. The Katyusha rockets they’re firing at Israel are basically a WWII design that is so simple that it can be manufactured (other than its detonater) in any well-equipped workshop using nothing more than hand tools. These weapons may *seem* advanced compared to the rocks and rifles that Israel has been up against on the West Bank and Gaza, but really, we’re talking 40 year old technology here.
    The most advanced weapon which Iran is reputed to have supplied HA is the Iranian clone of the Chinese clone of the Stinger missile, which is itself a 1970’s-era weapon. However, if so, it hasn’t been used yet, because it appears antiquated SA-7’s are the extent of what they’ve used against the Israelies so far (SA-7’s are only useful from the rear aspect of departing enemy at low altitude, and have a tendency to hit hot spots on hills and such rather than their target). SA-7’s are 1960’s technology.
    So it appears that 40-year-old technology is the newest technology that HA is using against the Israelis. Their innovations in Lebanon are tactical, not technological. Everything they’re using was available in 1973 the last time Israel fought an Arab army, and Israel was supposed to know how to deal with that.

  37. taters says:

    Col. Lang,
    I always thought the term “Gucci Guerillas” referring to Chablabi and his crew was very apt. Did you coin that, by chance?

  38. confusedponderer says:

    No matter how good HB really is, I see a clear incentive on the Israeli side to make them somewhat bigger than life to justify their somewhat embarassing shortcomings, given their reputation.
    IMO somewhat like the British tendency to make the Germans larger than life to gloss over own shortcomings at the beginning of the war. Maybe that’s neccessary to maintain morale.
    And as for German engineers … gimme a break. That’s all so holocaust/ axis-of-evil-ish. Germans again aiding killers of Jews! Evildoers from Iran, NK, Syria uniting with HB against Israel and the West! Geez … all the standard themes.
    Despite all my scepticism I think that HB is underestimated. They have considerable experience, the will and time to learn lessons, good light infantry training, good small unit cohesion, quite probably skilled and experienced leaders and the will to fight.
    They differ from folks like the Taleban season campaigners in that they are indeed seasoned campaigners. That’s probably enough to give a good fight.

  39. W. Patrick Lang says:

    That conference at Fordham seems eerily prophetic.
    The general consensus among soldiers is that “Cobra 2,” “Fiasco” “Assassin’s Gate” are all accurate depictions of events past. In reading these books one must sort out which things are military mistakes and which are the mistakes of the civilian government.
    The professional officer corps has no control whatever over US foreign policy and so compartments its collectve mind to get on with the job and not obsess over things it can not control.
    As for the IDF and the US forces it is arguable as to which group has been the teacher. pl

  40. pbrownlee says:

    Things are not exactly rosy at the IDF command level:
    “Senior officers in the Northern Command were harshly critical yesterday of Halutz’s decision to place Kaplinsky over Adam as de facto commander of fighting in the north. They also slammed the government’s conduct in the affair.
    “According to the officers, Adam showed ‘loyalty to the system under the very difficult circumstances that were created. He gets a lot of support from us, his subordinates, and for now he will probably stay at his job until the end of the war. But he has a bellyfull against Halutz and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and there’s no doubt that when things calm down, he’ll express his opinions’.
    “Adam said yesterday to his subordinates, ‘the important thing now is to win the war. We’ll have time later to deal with this saga’.
    “The officers added that ‘a smear campaign’ had been directed against Adam over the past few weeks,’to blame him for all the failures of the war’. It was carried out, the officers said, in a way that was ‘mean and low’. They said the purpose was clear: ‘to cover all kinds of mistakes that other people made and to turn the GOC into a scapegoat’. According to the officers, ‘Adam may be accused of all kinds of things. But the claims that he doesn’t understand tactics, that he was lacking in knowledge and is not a real leader, are false’.”
    More at
    Sound familiar?
    BTW you’ve reached the Gucci Line when the bad guys wear tasselled loafers.

  41. Montag says:

    It’s like the old joke about tic-tac-toe–the only winning move is to refuse to play.Are you ready for this? On TV an Israeli “expert” was being interviewed and he insisted that the IDF failures were due to them facing “a regular Iranian division.” If there was ever a case of a propaganda machine exceeding the speed limit, this is it. Oh yeah, thousands of Iranian soldiers would really BLEND IN in South Lebanon. I guess next they’ll blame it on the Swiss Marines.

  42. tomas del sol says:

    Unforunately everyone should remember that access to the actual battlefield is limited on the Lebanesse side and the Isreali censorship prevents realistic reporting on the events of the day from the south.
    Although these discussions are intelligent and enlightning, as in all wars, history will (hopefully) discover the truth(s).

  43. “I have read reports (all western and Israeli) that say that there are complex fortifications and deep tunnel systems and that HA received some help from the Syrians, Iranians, N Koreans and even some German Companies.”
    Add some more helpers:
    Ehud Barak and Shaul Mofaz, the authors of the premature withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000.
    “In May 2000, Israeli forces withdrew suddenly from the occupied zone without having given any warning to the SLA.”

  44. Leon says:

    Anyone who takes on Israel has been suckered. Just like the human sacrificial bombers. Tough luck and goodbye ! Israel is a hard target. Lebanese should be careful about their residents. For terrorists, stick to killing soft targets, children, old women, civilians. This will make you even more popular than what you have already achieved. I do sympathize with the poor old Palestinians, do Muslims ? Not really.

  45. Mo says:

    “In May 2000, Israeli forces withdrew suddenly from the occupied zone without having given any warning to the SLA”
    Ah Wikipedia, where facts are facts because someone says their facts.
    In actual fact, the Israelis withdrew because Hizbollah had infiltrated the SLA to such an extent(it was estimated that as much as 50% of the SLA were Hizbollah) that they all “desserted” at the same time causing the rest of the SLA to collapse, leaving the Israelis with no buffer between them and Hizbollah.

  46. Piotr Chmielarz says:

    This tactic of hezbollah is nothing new the same was useb by Jewish Fighting organisation during uprising in Warsaw Ghetto they prepare bunkers and they use them as advance points or places where they ca rest.

  47. DM says:

    My guess is that Israel is being pushed into attacking HA by the neocons.
    Up until the push into Lebanon this year, the 6 years since Israeli withdrawal have been pretty quiet, except for action around Sheeba Farms.
    I dont think the Israelis want this war; theres simply nothing to be gained from it for them, but for the neocons, the desire to give Iran a bloody nose is too great, and the resulting pressure on Israel pushes them into untennable actions.

  48. M. Simon says:

    I have been saying for the last week or two around the net that the Hizbollah strategy was not to blunt the tip of the spear but to attack the shaft.
    The counter to that is what Israel has been doing. Slow foward advance.
    However, the best way to counter such a strategy is bypassing. Go after the source of the infection and let Hizbollah wither on the vine.
    Syria and Iran are the key.

  49. sophia says:

    Col. Lang:
    So far Hizballah (HA)has done well fighting in dug in positions.
    How well would they do if they were forced to maneuver? (Which of course was a strength of the VC)
    Today’s NY Times had this interesting tidbit:
    “As soldiers entered homes in the village, they found hundreds of explosives and weapons. On Monday morning, Sergeant Yousef fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the door of a heavily barricaded house the troops planned to enter.
    He hit the door, but it was so well reinforced it did not open, and instead sprayed bits of burning metal back at him, puncturing his abdomen in six places.”
    Erm, a door that is so well reinforced that it resists fire from an RPG isn’t something that your average local carpenter can construct, eh, Billmon?
    “If they didn’t learn how to fight like this on their own, who would have taught them? The Syrians? ”
    Billmon: I think Colonel Lang’s point is not that HA aren’t tough fighters, but the defenses and fortifications they have constructed are too elaborate and sophisticated for them to have built without expert help from abroad. Iran. Russia. Who knows? What do you think?
    “Then why aren’t they in downtown Tel Aviv right now?”
    See above. They are good at defense,not maneuver. Let’s see how well they do when they are flushed out of their hidey-holes, if the Israelis aren’t forced to quit beforehand.
    “The Iranians? Did they teach them how to use little boys as human mine sweepers?”
    They use the local equivalent, ensconcing themselves among the civilian infrastructure.
    But I’m glad to see that you have saved me the trouble of pointing out the unspeakable evil of HA’s main sponsor: Iran.
    BTW the Iranians were not the aggressor in that war.
    Oh, and for extra credit, to the dude who stated that Israel “stole” land from the Palestinians, this is a side issue, but has everyone noted history repeating itself with Nasrallah’s call for Israel Arabs to quit Haifa? Now, where have I heard that one before??
    I did hear or read somewhere that Hizbullah has been getting advice from some old NVA and Viet Cong vets. Which makes sense to me — why not the best?

  50. W. Patrick Lang says:

    The VC/NVA maneuvered by infiltration and under cover of both darkness and heavy forestation.
    We will have to see about these men. pl

  51. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The relationship between the Iranian state and the Shia of South Lebanon is at least 400 years old.
    Iranian State & polity are deeply Shia; that religion is what created and has sustained modern Iran (after 1500).
    It is the epitome of living in a fantasy world to expect ties of religion and blood that have grown over the last 400 years to not matter.

  52. sophia says:

    “The VC/NVA maneuvered by infiltration and under cover of both darkness and heavy forestation.”
    Right–they maneuvered. And yes, we will have to see about HA. I have read that their anti-tank missiles are accurate from 2 miles away. My guess is that they can’t maneuver–they fight well when they are dug in. Well, I hope that the IDF gets the chance to dig ’em out.
    I apologize if it was not clear that the last line of my comment above was a quotation from Billmon.
    As Billmon has publicly expressed skepticism on his blog as to whether Iranians corpses have cropped up among the dead combatants, a reliable cite as to the NVA helping HA would be greatly appreciated. Sounds like a George Galloway wet dream to me.

  53. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I am not sure where you are going with this thought (maneuver) You think the Hizbullah are cowardly because they won’t stand out in the open to fight IDF tanks? Was the Red Army cowardly to defend the ruined city of Stalingrad? There was precious little maneuver there.
    The VC/NVA defended fixed positions when they thought it to their advantage or they had no choice.
    Hue (twice), Hamburger Hill. These are examples of instances in which the NVA fought to the death to hold a particular piece of ground.
    The IDF have lost a lot of men and vehicles trying to dig these men out of cellars, bunkers, etc.
    What you should want to see is HA attacking IDF positions instead of the other way around.
    The NVA were the best? They lost to us just about everywhere, everywhere but in the states. pl

  54. Mo says:

    “My guess is that they can’t maneuver–they fight well when they are dug in.”
    No artillery, no air support, no back up. You really think a fighting force could hold the mighty IDF for a month simply by digging in?

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