Don’t Blame Airpower

Don’t Blame Airpower: Israeli airpower did not fail in Israel’s difficult 34-day military campaign against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon in 2006, said Benjamin Lambeth, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. Rather, that nation’s air arm performed well in the conflict, but unrealistic goals set by the Israeli government led to the perceived shortcomings of the Israeli air force, said Lambeth in his briefing at AFA’s Air & Space Conference, Monday afternoon. The Israelis were initially reluctant to commit large numbers of soldiers to southern Lebanon to stop Hezbollah from raining short-range Katyusha rockets on Israeli civilians and to retrieve two Israeli soldiers abducted in a cross-border raid by Hezbollah fighters. Instead, the political leadership incorrectly reckoned that a standoff campaign of air attacks, plus special forces strikes and long-range artillery, could compel Hezbollah to return the soldiers and would make the terrorist organization unable to strike at Israel as easily, he said. Instead, the Katyusha launchers proved elusive for the IAF to find and take out, and Israel was forced to commit large numbers of ground forces to go after Hezbollah, said Lambeth. Ultimately, it took a negotiated ceasefire to stop the Katyusha launches.