Infantry: The Need For Speed

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March 17, 2009: Israeli military commanders are anxious to go back into Gaza, feeling that they have new tactics that enable them to tear Hamas apart without losing many troops. During the 22 day campaign in December and January, the Israeli only suffered four dead from fighting Hamas (plus five friendly fire fatalities). Meanwhile, Hamas lost over 500 of their fighters. There is a sense of urgency to get back in, because Hamas is working on techniques to nullify the Israeli tactics. The more time Hamas has, the more useful ideas they will come up with to increase Israeli losses, and reduce their own.

The Israelis learned much from the U.S. experience in Iraq. American and Israeli commanders have long exchanged ideas, and the U.S. depended a lot on Israeli tactics developed during over a decade of battling Palestinian terrorists in the West Bank and Gaza. But the Americans saw a lot more combat in Iraq, and developed techniques that the Israelis borrowed.

The main American innovation was the ability to deliver a lot of precision firepower fast. To do this, U.S. troops used precision missiles (like Hellfire, Javelin and TOW), along with smart bombs delivered quickly. Israel used a lot of its Spike family of infantry missiles, fired from launchers on the ground, in helicopters, and on ships. Because of its higher speed, Israel continues to use Hellfires (not Spike) on its helicopters, and not from UAVs, which the United States favors. Like the United States, Israel attached air controllers to infantry units, so that F-16s overhead could quickly drop a smart bomb when needed, often in less than a minute.

The new Israeli combat tactics in Gaza were a great success. Three brigades were sent in, with over a hundred fighters, helicopters and UAVs overhead. The helicopters and UAVs were attached directly to the brigades, so the ground commanders could quickly assign "their" aircraft where and when they were needed the most. This meant that ground commanders had a constant overhead view of the battlefield.

Another American innovation the Israelis adopted was the use of small ground robots. These proved very useful in discovering, and sometimes disabling the many booby traps and bombs Hamas had placed throughout residential areas, hoping to entangle Israeli infantry. This didn't happen, as the Israelis were able to move through these areas without incurring many casualties, and killing a lot of Hamas gunmen who tried to stay and fight.

The Israelis suffered over a hundred wounded, and adopted many of the American medical innovations used so successfully developed in Iraq. This included rapid treatment and evacuation of casualties, and the use of new medical devices like the clotting powder that prevented badly wounded troops from bleeding to death, or going into shock.

But the main weapon was speed. The Israeli troops were trained, under realistic conditions, before they went in. They developed combat drills that used the UAVs, robots, armored vehicles and missile weapons to outmaneuver and promptly attack Hamas fighters before the enemy could react. Speed kills.

 


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