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"Israeli troops looked unprepared, sloppy and demoralized," one former senior US commander noted. "This wasn’t the vaunted IDF that we saw in previous wars."
The fighting had been bloody, but Hezbollah fighters had not been dislodged. Many of the Nasr Brigade’s soldiers had spent countless days waiting for the Israeli assault and, because of Hezbollah’s ability to intercept IDF military communications, Israeli soldiers bumped up against units that were well entrenched.
Hezbollah never felt the need to call up its reserves, as Israel had done. "The entire war was fought by one Hezbollah brigade of 3,000 troops, and no more," one military expert in the region said. "The Nasr Brigade fought the entire war. Hezbollah never felt the need to reinforce it."
The only Israeli unit that performed up to standards was the Golani Brigade, according to Lebanese observers. The IDF was "a motley assortment", one official with a deep knowledge of US slang reported.
"But that’s what happens when you have spent four decades firing rubber bullets at women and children in the West Bank and Gaza."
IDF commanders were also disturbed by the performance of their troops, noting a signal lack of discipline even among its best-trained regular soldiers. The reserves were worse, and IDF commanders hesitated to put them into battle.
"It seemed to them [USAF officers] that Israel threw away the book in Lebanon. This wasn’t surgical, it wasn’t precise, and it certainly wasn’t smart. You can’t just coat a country in iron and hope to win."
The cold, harsh numbers of the war point up the fallacy of the Israeli air and ground campaign. Hezbollah had secreted upwards of 18,000 rockets in its arsenals prior to the conflict. These sites were hardened against Israeli air strikes and easily survived the air campaign.
Hezbollah officials calculated that from the time of firing until the IAF was able to identify and deploy fighters to take out the mobile rockets was 90 seconds. Through years of diligent training, Hezbollah rocket teams had learned to deploy, fire and safely cover their mobile launchers in less than 60 seconds, with the result that IAF planes and helicopters (which Israel has in much fewer numbers than it boasts) could not stop Hezbollah’s continued rocket fire at Israel ("Israel is about three helicopters away from a total disaster," one US military officer commented).
Moreover, and more significant, Hezbollah’s fighters proved to be dedicated and disciplined. Using intelligence assets to pinpoint Israeli infantry penetrations, they proved the equal of Israel’s best fighting units. In some cases, Israeli units were defeated on the field of battle, forced into sudden retreats or forced to rely on air cover to save elements from being overrun. Even toward the end of the war, on August 9, the IDF announced that 15 of its reserve soldiers were killed and 40 wounded in fighting in the villages of Marjayoun, Khiam and Kila–a stunning casualty rate for a marginal piece of real estate.
Hezbollah’s military defeat of Israel was decisive, but its political defeat of the United States–which unquestioningly sided with Israel during the conflict and refused to bring it to an end–was catastrophic and has had a lasting impact on US prestige in the region.
Hezbollah intelligence officials had built a significant signals-counterintelligence capability. Throughout the war, Hezbollah commanders were able to predict when and where Israeli fighters and bombers would strike.
DF senior officers concluded that, given the failure of the air campaign, they had only one choice - to invade Lebanon with ground troops in the hopes of destroying Hezbollah's will to prevail.
Finally, Hezbollah’s ability to intercept and "read" Israeli actions had a decisive impact on the coming ground war. Hezbollah intelligence officials had perfected their signals-intelligence capability to such an extent that they could intercept Israeli ground communications between Israeli military commanders. Israel
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