Well, that was interesting. The comments on the preceding post (see, "Israeli Combat Lessons") on combat lessons from the Israeli-Hamas conflict confirmed exactly the problem I highlighted in the lesson about aerial suppression and collateral damage. [By the way, I’m not going to refer to it generically as suppression any more. I’m going to call it reduction, instead. - “Aerial reduction of enemy assets”- Some of you focused on the strict definition of the word as it related to supporting fires and thereby got sidetracked.]
Most commenters started their comments, observations, and arguments from the premise that collateral damage was inherently bad – I would go so far as to say they believed that it was inherently prohibited. This also confirms another of the lessons, that we’ve forgotten what war is.
If this had been WWII, do you honestly believe that the US Army (the Israelis in this example) would have held back on area bombardment when faced with taking a city (Gaza, in this example) containing 9000 German (Hamas, in this example) artillery pieces and thousands of German soldiers? Do you think the
would have attempted to enter the city without thorough preparatory area bombardment? Of course not! US
Now, why is the answer “Of course not!”? It’s because the US Army understood what war was. It was ugly, vicious, and destructive and the best thing that could be done was to end it as quickly and decisively as possible. Added to that was the implicit belief that, since lives had to be lost, it was far better that they be German lives, both military and civilian, than US lives. That’s ugly but that’s what war really is. Area reduction of enemy assets is just common sense.
We’ve gotten so used to fighting limited police actions that we’ve forgotten what real war is. If we have to fight
, Iran N. Korea, or we’ll quickly be reminded what war is. China
Given the absolutely overwhelming technological superiority and numbers, the Israelis suffered an unwarranted number of casualties. They should have suffered next to none. Frankly, I don’t know how the Israeli government can justify to the families of the dead soldiers that they placed more value on enemy lives than the lives of their own soldiers.
If your country is faced with a threat, you destroy it utterly, totally, and completely. You don’t engage in a limited operation that has to be repeated every few years with never-ending casualties on both sides, year after year.
This is not a political issue, it’s a doctrinal issue. I have the same problems with the way the
conducted its actions in US and Iraq . The Afghanistan was more concerned with preventing collateral damage than preventing US deaths. US
If we’re not willing to engage in real war then we should seriously be asking ourselves whether we should be engaged at all. Our tendency to jump into one nation building, limited conflict after another is highly suspect. We’re getting US soldiers killed for little or no gain.
If we do opt to engage in a conflict with total commitment then area bombardment and the acceptance of collateral damage is quite logical. Of course, I’m not advocating indiscriminate destruction for its own sake. However, if there’s reason to believe that enemy assets are in an area then the area is a target.
Most of us have been conditioned by the limited actions of the last couple decades to believe that combat can somehow be clean and precise and that no one but the enemy soldier will be killed and no property will be damaged. We need to remember what war is, remember how to wage it, and engage in it only infrequently and as a last resort.