Monday, 5 January 2009

War in Gaza - The ground offensive

Israel started its ground offensive over the weekend. opswarfare has been monitoring the news and offers a few quick comments on how the war may develop.

  • The first attack was launched at night. As mentioned in a previous post, the IDF will possibly exploit their technological advantage in night-vision, by choosing to conduct major combat operations at night
  • Many news media have shown photos and videos of White Phosphorus airburst rounds, most likely because of its dramatic looks. This is a good sign that the IDF is using smoke to reduce the defender's advantage in urban warfare. Smoke allow IDF troops to move from building to building without being easily targetted by snipers in buildings
  • Photos and videos of Self-Propelled Howitzers (SPH) probably mean the usage of SPH as a cheap (plus safe and reliable) way to deliver smoke munitions
  • Most of the armoured vehicles shown were uparmoured armoured personnel carriers (APC) (as compared to Merkava Main Battle Tanks (MBT). opswarfare presumes that the IDF realises the limited use of MBTs in urban combat,
  • The first Israeli casualty 22 year old also provides insights into IDF operations. Staff Sergeant Dvir Emmanueloff, 22, was from a Golani combat engineers unit. This is classic Western/Israeli doctrine, with full-time combat soldier leading the front assault, with to provide time for reservists to prepare. Also, combat engineers are often first into battle to clear obstacles.
  • During the first day of ground operations, unconfirmed news quickly spread of a IDF soldier being captured. This turned out to be untrue. However, it is likely that Hamas will adopt kidnapping tactics to try to get the upper hand
  • Several news stories have mentioned that many IDF troops were injured by sniper fire. This is classic urban warfare defensive tactics, and Hamas will use this to the max. Hunter-killer teams (rifle sniper and anti-tank operator), first popularised in the Chechnya war, is a possible counter to IDF armour convoys. Chechen rebels inflicted heavy casualties by shooting at the commanders in open hatch, and/or disabling the first and last tanks in a convoy (and then slowly finishing off the tanks in the middle).
  • Several Israeli news sites are keeping tallies of Hamas rocket fire into Israel, almost using it like a barometer. Hamas will possibly exploit this by concentrating its resources on firing rockets, instead of directly engaging IDF troops.

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