To hell and back again

On Thusday we noted that Jim Brown posted the link to an incredible 27-minute piece by an Israeli video journalist depicting Israel’s war against Hezbollah: “To hell and back.” Jim wrote:

Israeli video journalist Itai Anghel went into Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon with the Nahal Brigade and shot 25 minutes of riveting house-to-house combat footage with a night vision lens. The Hezbollah fighters wore Israeli uniforms.

To watch the video, paste this URL into your browser: http://switch248-01.castup.net/cunet/gm.asp?ClipMediaID=209947&ak=63628786. The piece is a powerful, moving portrait of Israel’s war that is worth every second of its twenty-seven or so minutes. I’m taking the liberty of reminding readers who may be interested but haven’t had the time yet to take a look.

UPDATE: James Sitlington III writes to comment:

I watched the video after your first reference to it and was struck by its candor and how it gives us an ability to take an unvarnished look into an IDF “Regular Army” Regiment.

A little background. I’m a West Point grad, and while on active duty in the 80’s, had the luxury of working for exceptional leaders: Carl Vuono, Denny Reimer and Gary Luck. Vuono and Reimer became Chief of Staff of the Army, and Luck is still doing special ops stuff, though retired as a 4 star. They taught me lessons in leadership and training that are invaluable and serve me to this day.

I am a student of “leadership,” particularly in the military sense, which brings me to my criticisms of the IDF as shown by this video, which I believe to be representative. This will sound harsh, but is given with the hope of being seen as constructive.

1) A Regiment was repulsed and therefore failed to complete its mission (the occupation of the village) by three terrorists.

2) Although unquestionably brave, the leaders, at all levels, in leading from the front, became consumed by one firefight, rather than focused on completing their mission.

3) After only four casualties, none of which were fatal, the commander withdrew, due solely to his participation in that firefight. (What about the flanking enemy that he was concerned about?)

4) There was a complete lack of coordination with other units, fire support, etc. after the initial pro-forma, 1800’s style artillery barrage.

I could go on, but the sense I get is that the IDF is not ready for prime time. I have chatted with Yoni about my concerns as to why it took 24 hours to recover the dead following the first 531 firefight and wondered how many of those “bled out” waiting for help that never came.

In Europe, in the 80’s the Soviet Army only gave radios to their leaders. Hence, you knew which tank was a leader by its having an antenna. Two antennas meant Company Commander, etc. So, kill the tank with antennas, and the rest of the tanks are leaderless. I fear the same is true with the IDF…Kill the first and second guy in, and you take out the leadership. There is no doubt the terrorists understand this.

I expect/hope that we will have some SF guys giving some urgent training on Company and Battalion level tactics and support to the IDF. I look for more OH-58 type helicopters to be purchased by the IDF, and I expect to hear of orders that Battalion Commanders will no longer “lead from the front.” It is hard enough to command a battalion in combat, without adding the stress and exertion brought on by reverting to a Platoon Leader whenever the bullets begin to fly.

All the best, and God Bless Israel!

Jim Sitlington

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