Monday, November 9, 2009

The Hizbollah Project: Last War, Next War

By Amal Saad-Ghorayeb

"The Hizbollah movement in Lebanon emerged intact and confident from war with Israel in July-August 2006. Since then it has reinvented its strategy, arsenal and thinking to pose an even greater threat to its enemy to the south. A forensic portrait of the world’s most sophisticated non-state force from Amal Saad-Ghorayeb.

One of the main "lessons learned" from the war of July-August 2006 is that the modern concept of asymmetric warfare, which emerged in the late 1990s in the United States, is already in dire need of revision. Hizbollah's military performance during the war demonstrates that asymmetric warfare can no longer be identified exclusively with political actors who adopt "non-traditional" methods "that differ significantly from the opponent's usual mode of operations" (as per the US military's definition).....

The thirty-three-day war illustrated that Hizbollah had not merely perfected the art of guerrilla warfare, but had surpassed it altogether with a new paradigm of warfare which fuses "non-traditional" methods with the "usual mode of operations" conducted by conventional armies (see Frank G Hoffman, Hybrid Threats: Reconceptualizing the Evolving Character of Modern Conflict [Strategic Forum, Institute for National Strategic Studies, April 2009]).

At the forefront of those dissecting this new model of combat are American military strategists who fear it will set off a "hybrid warfare" contagion among both non-state and state actors opposed to the US, for whom the Hizbollah resistance template will function as a means of balancing out power-asymmetries (see Paul Rogers, "America's new-old military thinking", 23 July 2009). The expectation is that non-state opponents of the US will mimic the conventional aspects of the Hizbollah hybrid, while enemy states will borrow its unconventional methods.....

In response to such a prospect, many defense planners at the Pentagon are now urging advocates of repositioning the US military for irregular warfare and counterinsurgency to abandon this strategy and refocus on conventional methods better suited to fighting anticipated "hybrid threats"......"

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