- Nov 22, 2003
Glad to see they are looking at the new parameters. Links at site:
Net Warfare - a Real Army Of Davids
NO, "Net Warfare" does not refer to Greenwald and Co. This is a serious think-piece by the Times on the military concept of a hybrid between a conventional and a guerilla army; the hook is the Hezbollah-Israeli showdown. They describe, hmm, an army of Davids:
United States officials worry that theyre not prepared, either, for Hezbollahs style of warfare a kind that pits finders against hiders and favors the hiders.
Certain that other terrorists are learning from Hezbollahs successes, the United States is studying the conflict closely for lessons to apply to its own wars. Military planners suggest that the Pentagon take a page out of Hezbollahs book about small-unit, agile operations as it battles insurgents and cells in Iraq and Afghanistan and plans for countering more cells and their state sponsors across the Middle East and in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America.
The United States and Israel have each fought conventional armies of nation-states and shadowy terror organizations. But Hezbollah, with the sophistication of a national army (it almost sank an Israeli warship with a cruise missile) and the lethal invisibility of a guerrilla army, is a hybrid. Old labels, and old planning, do not apply. Certainly its style of 21st-century combat is known on paper. The style even has its own labels, including network warfare, or net war, and fourth-generation warfare, although many in the military dont care for such titles. But the battlefields of south Lebanon prove that it is here, and sooner than expected. And the American national security establishment is struggling to adapt.
We are now into the first great war between nations and networks, said John Arquilla, a professor of defense analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School, and a leading analyst of net warfare. This proves the growing strength of networks as a threat to American national security.
In a talk that Mr. Arquilla calls Net Warfare 101, he describes how traditional militaries are organized in a strict hierarchy, from generals down to privates. In contrast, networks flatten the command structure. They are distributed, dispersed, agile, mobile, improvisational. This makes them effective, and hard to track and target.
A net war differs from all previous wars, which were about brute confrontation of forces, mass on mass what Matthew Arnold called bloody contests of ignorant armies meeting on the darkling plain.
Net war is the battle of the many, organized in small units, against conventional militaries that organize their many into large units. These network forces are not ignorant. They are computer literate, propaganda and Internet savvy, and capable of firing complicated weapons to great effect.
Hezbollah spent the last six years dispersing about 12,000 rockets across southern Lebanon in a vast web of hidden caches, all divided into local zones with independent command.
They dug tunnels. They dug bunkers, they established communications systems cellphones, radios, even runners to carry messages that arent susceptible to eavesdropping, said one military officer with experience in the Middle East. They divided southern Lebanon into military zones with many small units that operate independently, without the need for central control.
To attack Israel, Hezbollah dispersed its fighters with no distinguishing markings or uniforms or vehicles. Fighters access the weapons only at the moment of attack, and then disappear. This makes preventing the attack all but impossible. It is a significant modernization of classic guerrilla hit-and-run tactics. Israel has been unable to significantly degrade the numbers of rockets because of this approach. Hezbollah fired more than 100 a day at the start of this conflict; they are still firing more than 100 a day, despite Israeli bombardment.
Hezbollah still possesses the most dangerous aspects of a shadowy terror network. It abides by no laws of war as it attacks civilians indiscriminately. Attacks on its positions carry a high risk of killing innocents. At the same time, it has attained military capabilities and other significant attributes of a nation-state. It holds territory and seats in the Lebanese government. It fields high-tech weapons and possesses the firepower to threaten the entire population of a regional superpower, or at least those in the northern half of Israel.
I am having no trouble getting very gloomy about the lebanon problem - I am not sure how Israel can "win" this round, and I can't imagine a lot of positive outcomes if they don't.
Posted by Tom Maguire on July 29, 2006