August 04, 2006

Logistics Rules

Reading this story on returning Israeli soldiers coming back from Lebanon, I picked up one fact that seems crucial.

Another soldier said that serving in the Palestinian militant stronghold of Jenin in the West Bank, as he had, was nothing compared with fighting Hezbollah’s guerrillas. “It was horrible,” he said. “You don’t know what it’s like, with every second a rocket- propelled grenade shooting over your head.”
A third soldier said: “All the time, they fired missiles at us. They never come face to face, just missiles. When we find them we kill them. It’s just not right, the way we are doing it. Our air force can just bomb villages and not risk our lives fighting over there.”

Missiles are an awfully inefficient and unsustainable way to conduct an infantry battle. We don't do it in the US for exactly that reason, that we can't afford to be that wasteful and our war machine is infinitely better financed and supplied than Hezbollah's. It's also why it's so valuable to put infantry on the ground in Lebanon. It makes Hezbollah use up its stocks of munitions. If the IAF can interdict enough of that supply, those fighters that survive the fighting to that point end up with nothing left to shoot, at which point, they're done for.

Fire discipline and logistics are tough lessons to learn, the sort of discipline that is also very difficult to maintain in combat. Hezbollah has stocks accumulated for years. Israel is depleting those stocks by bombing the arsenals it can find and by prompting Hezbollah to use them on it instead of on the Lebanese Army when it comes down to take control of its territory. And that's the heart of why Israel isn't going to cease-fire short of its own stocks of weapons being drawn down to nothing due to an arms cutoff from the US. Israel's expense of soldiers to draw down those Hezbollah stocks is only moral if it's carried through to the end. A cease-fire that allows Hezbollah to restock means that those soldiers truly died for nothing.

Iran is bleeding cash for those weapons and they're likely losing a large chunk of them to IAF interdiction strikes before they even arrive. Iran is in such dire financial straights that it can't even maintain its regime of bread and circuses in the form of plentiful, subsidized gasoline. Fall will see Iranians forced into using rationing coupons while Iranian cash goes to purchase weapons and munitions (likely from Russia) to resupply Hezbollah. That's quite dangerous for regime stability. It brings into question what else is Iran going to run short of if it continues to pour money into its Lebanon front and Hezbollah.

Posted by TMLutas at August 4, 2006 11:07 PM