IDF already implementing some lessons of Lebanon war
The Israel Defense Forces' debriefings on the second Lebanon War will be completed by the end of 2006, IDF sources said yesterday. However, a number of the IDF committees investigating the war intend to finish their work even sooner, because of the urgency of implementing their findings.
The sources said that in some areas, conclusions have already been reached. These include the need to increase training for reservists, a process that will begin within a year.
The procurement of equipment considered critical has also begun, in an effort to replenish the army's emergency stores. In addition, the IDF has begun procuring needed intelligence, such as updated aerial photographs of Lebanon, as well as different kinds of ammunition than those used during the war.
The internal IDF committees will investigate nine areas, includin g how the General Staff uses its available forces; intelligence assessments prior to and during the fighting; coordination between the Northern Command, the air force and the navy; the preparedness of both the reserves and the standing army for war; public relations; and the role of the air force in a ground war.
The probe will also include an in-depth examination of several key operations during the war. These include the battle near the village of Maroun al-Ras, the repeated fighting at Bint Jbail, the Alexandroni Brigade progress along the western axis, and the battle of Wadi Salouki during the last two days of the war.
The IDF's historical branch will conduct a more detailed study of these battles, but its report will be completed only in another two years.
A senior General Staff officer told Haaretz yesterday that if the government were to ask him today, as it did on July 12 (the day Hezbollah abducted two soldiers in a cross-border raid), for a recommendation, he would once again advise going to war.
"From a military point of view, the answer is yes," he said. "But we could have carried it out better than we did."
"On July 12, we could have covered our eyes so that we would not see the sun," he continued. "We could have said that the abduction was a trivial matter, and that we would not send residents of the north into bomb shelters or disrupt the calm of the bed and breakfasts for two kidnapped soldiers. But the fact is, we recommended otherwise."
"Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah himself admitted after the war that had he thought there was a one percent chance that Israel would respond to the abduction as it did, he would not have ordered it," the officer said. "Today, Nasrallah is agreeing to things that he would not have contemplated prior to the abduction. He would prefer to go back to the situation prior to July 12."
When asked about the IDF's successes in the war, the source said that many of its aims were achieved. However, with regard to Israel's deterrence, "that is a slippery concept," he said. "It seems that Nasrallah is deterred, but the Syrians see the new situation from a very problematic perspective for us. This is not a black and white matter. Time will tell."