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View Full Version : Behind the Headlines on the Winograd Commission’s Interim Report



Shek
29 May 07,, 23:02
In late April, the Winograd Commission, appointed by the Israeli government last September to examine the events of the 2006 Second Lebanon War, published its interim report. Media coverage of the interim report, which is not yet available in English, has focused mostly on the commission’s harsh evaluation of the nation’s civilian leaders, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz.

The 170-page document offers far more than just a report card on these politicians’ performance, however. It examines the behavior of the military, the government, the National Security Council, and even the media and the electorate over a six-year period which begins with Israel’s May 2000 withdrawal from southern Lebanon and ends on July 17, 2006, nearly a week into the war. It is both uncompromisingly honest and scrupulously fair, offering a 15-page discussion of “The Principles of Responsibility” and weighing at every turn the balance between individual, collective and institutional responsibility and plain bad luck. (The breadth of the commission’s findings reflects its composition, which includes Israel’s leading experts on public administration and human and civil rights law alongside two reserve generals.)

***

Lesson One: Western militaries are in active denial concerning the limitations of precision weapons

Lesson Two: There are real consequences to overstretching a military

Lesson Three: Rhetorical praise for the troops must not interfere with honest assessment of their abilities

***

Haninah Levine is a science fellow at the World Security Institute’s Center for Defense Information.

To read the full analysis, visit Behind the Headlines on the Winograd Commission’s Interim Report (http://www.cdi.org/program/document.cfm?DocumentID=3969&from_page=../index.cfm).

Druze
31 May 07,, 17:00
There is some blame on military brass as well. The army is by no means guilt free of this epiosde nor should they be. The brass needs to handle an idiot like Peretz with kid gloves and send him on his way with what they tell him if they see he is that incompetent. Also soldiers need to be a bit less pampered in their reserve obligations if you are to have a fantastic citizen army as Israel has a reputation for having.

In the last 6 months reservists are staying for as much as 45 days at a time and enudring much more rigorous training then ever before. More soldiers are now enquiring about different combat units before their draft time comes. Interest in the army in Israel has regrown since the war and the soldiers are doing their part.
I wanted the report to focus much more on the relationship between the army and the IAF then it did but I'll live with the results.

Officer of Engineers
31 May 07,, 20:27
Lieutenant,

No offence but 45 days ain't squat to get a guy ready for deployment. In the CF, a reservist gets a minimum of 60, more like 90 days before they're sent out. For the IRF battalions, they get a lead up training of 90 days before they're declared operationally ready.

There are no ways to cut corners, especially about training.

Druze
31 May 07,, 22:17
Lieutenant,

No offence but 45 days ain't squat to get a guy ready for deployment. In the CF, a reservist gets a minimum of 60, more like 90 days before they're sent out. For the IRF battalions, they get a lead up training of 90 days before they're declared operationally ready.

There are no ways to cut corners, especially about training.

None taken Engineer. Remember that Israel is a much smaller country then Canada and has a much smaller theatre of operation then Canada as well. Israel doesn't deploy the distances that Canada does either but much closer to home.

Israel is also a citizen army, you can't ask an entire population of men ages 21-40 to give up 90 days out of the year every year. Its just not feasible economically or politically. If you have less time you have no choice but to make due with less.

Also Israel can call up reservists for extended periods of time during a national call up if it so chooses, I'm talking about basic reserve obligations.

Officer of Engineers
02 Jun 07,, 04:26
I have a stupid question. What's the regular army for? If you can't goto war without calling up the res, what's the point having a standing regforce?

Stan187
02 Jun 07,, 04:45
Colonel,

The Yom Kippur is pretty good example. The regular army, together with the Air Force (and today the Navy, too) hold the line in case of overwhelming attack, wait for reserves to have the manpower to attack in force.

However, with Israel's advancement past its enemies in military technology and proficiency, this does not necesarilly have to apply. Meaning that if the attack is not overwhelming, then the regular army can begin transferring the battle to the enemy's territory (which is an IDF strategic imperative) prior to all of the reserves being ready.

Basically, the design is done to protect Israel from the worst possibility, which is an overwhelming attack on Israeli territory by multiple foes. How likely such an event is nowadays is a different story.

Druze
02 Jun 07,, 06:18
I have a stupid question. What's the regular army for? If you can't goto war without calling up the res, what's the point having a standing regforce?


Look I hear your question but every nation calls up reserves in a major war. Every nation has a military standard that is modeled for its own needs. In Israel a reservist can be deployed from his office cubicle to the front in the same day so a reserve army is much more effective then often is the case. As Stan said in the Yom Kippur War soldiers didn't even wait for their call up, they simply drove up to the front and hopped in tanks and raced toward into the fighting very effectively. Down south in the Sinai the glory of the war was taken by Ariel Sharon's division which was a reserve division. The reserves have proven very effective for Israel. Holding three fronts as Israel has done in its major wars is one thing, but mustering counter offensives on those three fronts deep into enemy territory while securing ground taken in such large quantity as Israel has done takes a bigger military then Israel's active divisions can do.

Israel's last war with Lebanon was Israel's first war without a nationwide reserve call up. Only a fraction of the reserves were called up. Ground wasn't seized and secured so the objective of stopping rockets was not achieved.

Israel fought in Lebanon like the US fought in Vietnam when you look at how towns were taken and then units moved onto the next town without securing the one they were in. My unit had to fight in every town we took on the way back across the border. It was ludicrous.

You are a military man Engineer, so you know there is nothing more annoying then not having some crappy mop up units to laugh at on your way home and ask them how well they like cleaning up the mess you got to cause for them.;) War is nasty buisness and somebody needs to come in and clean it up after:)

Officer of Engineers
02 Jun 07,, 06:28
Lieutenant,

What you've just described is an operational nightmare. I cannot say anymore without a further study in how the res are called up and deployed but in an offence where you don't even know who's doing what and where they are coming from, I'll just say it's not a scenario I would have tolerated.

I'm sure there are contingency plans left, right, and centre for all the res but to expect a guy jump from the office to the front lines without even being briefed on OPSEC and SIGSEC rules would simply be a recipe for a disaster.

I need to learn alot more before I can understand and appreciate how the res works within the IsDF. From what little that has been pointed out to me ... I get the shivers if such were to face a Guards or a Shock Army.

Blademaster
02 Jun 07,, 06:53
The IDF were able to get away with this because they are not facing against a trained foe in the sense of a real army. They are just facing against dedicated ragtags. I am sorry but Hezbelloh is no army. They are just insurgents who can only operate in small cells but not in formation of a large group acting in synergy. That takes real training which would be damn impossible to hide from Israelis prying eyes.

If against Egypt or let's say for argument's sake (Just bear with me even though it is not real in life) against Turkish army, the reserves hastily running into battle on the first day would be made mincemeat. That is, unless, they are being told to man fortifications where they just shoot at anything that's not Israelis and moving.

Officer of Engineers
02 Jun 07,, 07:09
Which is why I still don't understand how the regforce works. For such a short and small war, the regforce should have been able to handle it all by itself. We're talking what? 5 brigades?

Blademaster
02 Jun 07,, 07:43
Maybe they are using the regforce as in reserves just in case one of the bigger armies decide to act in concert with Hezbelloh such as Syrian Army or in the unlikely scenario of Egyptians moving against Israel. They use the actual reserves to fight the insurgents while preserving the regforce for a bigger threat.

Druze
02 Jun 07,, 08:34
Lieutenant,

What you've just described is an operational nightmare. I cannot say anymore without a further study in how the res are called up and deployed but in an offence where you don't even know who's doing what and where they are coming from, I'll just say it's not a scenario I would have tolerated.

I'm sure there are contingency plans left, right, and centre for all the res but to expect a guy jump from the office to the front lines without even being briefed on OPSEC and SIGSEC rules would simply be a recipe for a disaster.

I need to learn alot more before I can understand and appreciate how the res works within the IsDF. From what little that has been pointed out to me ... I get the shivers if such were to face a Guards or a Shock Army.


It is and was an operational nightmare at that time. It is not something that was planned. The reserves in 1973 were supposed to report directly to bases to be briefed. Coded messages went out on the radio to all reservists, there is a lot of old video footage of Israelis standing around huddling next to a radio waiting for their unit orders. Many went straight to the front. It was Yom Kippur so most of the nation was in Synagogue and wasn't listening to the radio or answering telephones and it something that everyone knew. Truth be told the army should have planned a beter deployment should a war break out on Yom Kippur of all days. It wasn't planned to work that way of course, it just happened and Israel got lucky. It is not like that anymore. I'm sure it is a brigade commander's nightmare to have to organize something like that in the thick of battle. Remember Israel's size and remember that It can be sliced in a day should its active defense units be smashed.

But the reservists of the northern command fought to take the Golan just six years prior in 1967 and knew the area well. The few active tanks did a historic job in slowing the advance of 250 Egyptian tanks and the Artillery in the north did a fabulous job of grinding the Syrians to a halt. If the active army didn't do such a good job the nightmare scenario you think of in which you have unbriefed tank crews hopping into their armour would probably have unfolded in a horrific way.

Stan187
02 Jun 07,, 08:47
If against Egypt or let's say for argument's sake (Just bear with me even though it is not real in life) against Turkish army, the reserves hastily running into battle on the first day would be made mincemeat. That is, unless, they are being told to man fortifications where they just shoot at anything that's not Israelis and moving.

I'm confused. How are the reserves gonna be running into battle on the first day and be made into minced meat?

Blademaster
02 Jun 07,, 08:50
I'm confused. How are the reserves gonna be running into battle on the first day and be made into minced meat?

Read the above where Israelis reserves ran from their offices straight into the tanks as Druze tells as it is. Doing so would, as OOE puts it, greatly increase the fog of war and create much chaos and disorder for themselves. Furthermore, they would not know the situation fully at hand and may not be fully equipped. Against such a force like the 16th Guards, they would be made mincemeat. Even against a real army like Egypt or Turkey because they would be ready to face against Israelis opposition when the reserves don't know what they are up against.

Stan187
02 Jun 07,, 08:58
Which is why I still don't understand how the regforce works. For such a short and small war, the regforce should have been able to handle it all by itself. We're talking what? 5 brigades?

There was also an offensive in Gaza going on. Givati is one of the regforce brigades, and it was there, couldn't leave. Besides, if you use the whole of the regforce, then you're leaving in defense against other threats only reservists. At the time, there was thought to be a real possibility of escalation to wider conflict, with Syria in particular. The Golan ties up two of the best armored brigades.

AFAIK Regforce:
401 (Armor)
188 (Armor)-Golan
7 (Armor)-Golan
Nahal (Inf.)
Golani (Inf.)
Givati (Inf.)-Gaza
Paras (Inf.)-?
Kfir (Inf.)-West Bank (specialized in MOUT)

The unmarked ones went to Lebanon AFAIK. So at least 3 regforce brigades. Not sure if the paratroopers were there, I'd imagine, but I don't know.

Stan187
02 Jun 07,, 09:01
Read the above where Israelis reserves ran from their offices straight into the tanks as Druze tells as it is. Doing so would, as OOE puts it, greatly increase the fog of war and create much chaos and disorder for themselves. Furthermore, they would not know the situation fully at hand and may not be fully equipped. Against such a force like the 16th Guards, they would be made mincemeat. Even against a real army like Egypt or Turkey because they would be ready to face against Israelis opposition when the reserves don't know what they are up against.

As Druze said, these were people who were not doing what they were supposed to.

Officer of Engineers
02 Jun 07,, 18:35
The Golan ties up two of the best armored brigades.

That says it all right there. I'm sure you can think this one through.

Druze
02 Jun 07,, 20:39
There was also an offensive in Gaza going on. Givati is one of the regforce brigades, and it was there, couldn't leave. Besides, if you use the whole of the regforce, then you're leaving in defense against other threats only reservists. At the time, there was thought to be a real possibility of escalation to wider conflict, with Syria in particular. The Golan ties up two of the best armored brigades.

AFAIK Regforce:
401 (Armor)
188 (Armor)-Golan
7 (Armor)-Golan
Nahal (Inf.)
Golani (Inf.)
Givati (Inf.)-Gaza
Paras (Inf.)-?
Kfir (Inf.)-West Bank (specialized in MOUT)

The unmarked ones went to Lebanon AFAIK. So at least 3 regforce brigades. Not sure if the paratroopers were there, I'd imagine, but I don't know.


I'm not sure where the paratroopers were assigned to prior to the outbreak of hostilities however they particpated in the Southern command's operations during the war. Much of Golani's active forces were moved to the Golan two days prior to the outbreak of the war. They were later obsorbed by General Eitan's division for the most part during the counter offensive.
The Kfir brigade was the 900th then.

Stan187
03 Jun 07,, 05:47
That says it all right there. I'm sure you can think this one through.

I think the big problem is practice. I don't know how much the Israelis practice as far combined arms goes. In the Territories, the tanks act as mobile assault guns, supporting infantry. This is not the same thing as infantry and tanks working together to gain ground. There appears to have been only one regular tank brigade in Lebanon (Ben's brigade, the 401st). While taking nothing away from reservists tankers, their skills are probably a bit rusty... especially their ability to coordinate with infantry. I'm not sure how many combined arms field exercizes the IDF hosts, maybe Druze knows.

Druze
03 Jun 07,, 07:53
I think the big problem is practice. I don't know how much the Israelis practice as far combined arms goes. In the Territories, the tanks act as mobile assault guns, supporting infantry. This is not the same thing as infantry and tanks working together to gain ground. There appears to have been only one regular tank brigade in Lebanon (Ben's brigade, the 401st). While taking nothing away from reservists tankers, their skills are probably a bit rusty... especially their ability to coordinate with infantry. I'm not sure how many combined arms field exercizes the IDF hosts, maybe Druze knows.


infantry works in tandem with armour and artillery during training. However Israel tends to still spearhead with armour during war which is something that shouldn't have happened. Not all divisions went in with armour directly. Many infantry battalions used their tanks and artillery very effectively. Other times tanks rolled in to far from their infantry support and suffered heavy damages. I think about 90% of casualties were tankers. Coming back across the border we were shocked at the high number of dead tanks being towed back across the border.
Reservist tankers are very well trained and operate very well but I imagine that they inevitably suffer less training in the long run in joint long distance operations. reservist tankers are called up every year to do their time in the West Bank and Gaza but the lack of recent wars to hone skills showed in Lebanon in regards to using infantry deep inside enemy territory. Tank columns are very effective in working jointly with the IAF however that didn't do them much good against Hezbollah. My cousin's tank company is the only one to have reached the Litani which I can't name.

Infantry certainly was the most effective corps of the Lebanon war as tanks simply took ground without doing much to the enemy.

Aranthus
03 Jun 07,, 19:25
AFAIK Regforce:
401 (Armor)
188 (Armor)-Golan
7 (Armor)-Golan
Nahal (Inf.)
Golani (Inf.)
Givati (Inf.)-Gaza
Paras (Inf.)-?
Kfir (Inf.)-West Bank (specialized in MOUT)



I am curious where you got this order of battle from.

Stan187
03 Jun 07,, 22:30
infantry works in tandem with armour and artillery during training. However Israel tends to still spearhead with armour during war which is something that shouldn't have happened. Not all divisions went in with armour directly. Many infantry battalions used their tanks and artillery very effectively. Other times tanks rolled in to far from their infantry support and suffered heavy damages. I think about 90% of casualties were tankers. Coming back across the border we were shocked at the high number of dead tanks being towed back across the border.
Reservist tankers are very well trained and operate very well but I imagine that they inevitably suffer less training in the long run in joint long distance operations. reservist tankers are called up every year to do their time in the West Bank and Gaza but the lack of recent wars to hone skills showed in Lebanon in regards to using infantry deep inside enemy territory. Tank columns are very effective in working jointly with the IAF however that didn't do them much good against Hezbollah. My cousin's tank company is the only one to have reached the Litani which I can't name.

Infantry certainly was the most effective corps of the Lebanon war as tanks simply took ground without doing much to the enemy.

My cousin being a reservist tanker, tells me that he guarded checkpoints in the Territories like a standard grunt for the past 2 years. Not as many tanks are needed, so not all the tank reservists actually get to go out on them.

Stan187
03 Jun 07,, 22:32
I am curious where you got this order of battle from.

My head! :biggrin:

Just like if you ask OoE something about China. He follows the PLA, so he just knows.

Druze
04 Jun 07,, 22:08
My cousin being a reservist tanker, tells me that he guarded checkpoints in the Territories like a standard grunt for the past 2 years. Not as many tanks are needed, so not all the tank reservists actually get to go out on them.


That about sums it up for reservist duty. Other then arrest operations and limited operations there is not much for tanks to do. I was stationed at Rafah for 3 months and it was the worst assignment ever both in terms of feeling useless and feeling extremely vulnerable. I'm glad more soldiers won't lose their life needlessly in Gaza anymore. But I will miss the beach in the Gaza! Most beautiful beach in the area.

Stan187
04 Jun 07,, 22:11
That about sums it up for reservist duty. Other then arrest operations and limited operations there is not much for tanks to do. I was stationed at Rafah for 3 months and it was the worst assignment ever both in terms of feeling useless and feeling extremely vulnerable. I'm glad more soldiers won't lose their life needlessly in Gaza anymore. But I will miss the beach in the Gaza! Most beautiful beach in the area.

Honestly, my favorite place in Israel is the Golan. I could keep hiking there for months and not get bored. But, as far as beaches go, Tel Aviv and Netanya are not too shabby either, IMO.