Air Operations in Israel's War against Hezbollah: Learning from Lebanon and Getting It Right in Gaza

Air Operations in Israel's War against Hezbollah: Learning from Lebanon and Getting It Right in Gaza

Air Operations in Israel's War against Hezbollah: Learning from Lebanon and Getting It Right in Gaza

Air Operations in Israel's War against Hezbollah: Learning from Lebanon and Getting It Right in Gaza

Excerpt

The RAND Corporation is providing analytical support to the U.S. Air Force (USAF) on a variety of issues having to do with the role and future potential of air and space power in counterinsurgency and counterterrorist warfare. This book is a contribution to that effort. It examines the conduct of combat operations by the Israel Air Force (IAF) against well-endowed Hezbollah irregular forces in Lebanon in July and August 2006 in a 34-day joint campaign that was dominated until its last week by an almost exclusive resort to precision standoff attacks by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). The campaign ended inconclusively for Israel. Because the IDF’s Chief of Staff at the time happened to be, for the first time in Israel’s history, an IAF airman; because he chose to rely at the outset principally on standoff attacks by IAF aircraft, supplemented by IDF battlefield rockets and artillery, rather than taking the bolder and riskier step of committing Israeli ground troops to early combat in large numbers; and because the campaign, in the end, failed to produce the excessive and unattainable goals that were avowed shortly after its start by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, a widespread belief persists to this day that the war’s less than satisfactory outcome for Israel ensued from the IDF chief’s allegedly unfounded convictions regarding what air power by itself could deliver by way of desired combat results. More to the point, it remains accepted wisdom in most quarters that Israel’s second Lebanon war represented a “failure of air power.”

The purpose of this book is to demonstrate that both of these conclusions are oversimplifications of a more complex reality that must first be clarified in order for the real causes of the IDF’s flawed performance . . .

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