Monday, April 27, 2009

Hamas' Brain Trust

First attempt at an entry. Discussion point is an article I read on titled "Hamas Aims to Look Sharp" ( The short and sweet of this article was the results of a Hamas internal study of the last round of fighting in Gaza against the IDF (Israeli Defense Force). Urm, if you want to call it a fight anyway. Hamas has figured out that they didn't do so well in all categories (including the media surprisingly) and have made some plans to fix this for the next round.

The major point is a complete and total failure of leadership at all levels of the spectrum of conflict. Strategically it was a embarrassment, operationally this was planned and executed at about the level of Mussolini's invasion of Ethopia, and decorum prevents me from using the most correct words to describe their "tactical" abilities. They couldn't communicate or synch their political and military leadership, goals or plans and once the IDF started rolling, Hamas gunmen were abandoning their uniforms and hiding.

Hamas fell into the trap of fighting the last war (in this case, attempting to do what Hezbollah did in 2006). Happens to the best militaries, so its hard to hit them that hard for that point. However, they also made the mistake of doing an exact copy of Hezbolla's plan and not doing any modifications for the vastly different terrain, and more importantly the different level of training they had. Hezbollah does actually train somewhat and has some trainers who are not bad (Iranians and Syrians), Hamas has some Dirty Harry Videos, a copy of Tom Clansey's Rainbow Six and the Third Edition Battletech as guides. Quality for Hamas is POOR in the realm of the standard, urm, fighter (they sure are not soldiers, and I even balk at calling them gunmen).

And they are fighting Israel, who proved that 1st class militaries CAN learn and adapt from when they mess up (all good militaries have to include Russia, England/UK, USA, Israel).

While all of that is painfully obvious, the article is talking about how Hamas is "learning" for the next go around. And it is looking like their reputation isn't going to be improving anytime soon. THe main conclusion they seem to have drawn is that they need more heavy weapons to take on the IDF's heavy mechanized forces (Engineering vehicles, Tanks, IFVs). This means rocket launchers, guided anti-tank missiles, anti-aircraft weapons (missiles or cannon/heavy machine guns). In short, they are moving to a stand-up fight with the IDF.

This may very well top out the bad idea scale from a group who makes a living off of getting high marks on it. Every Arab force that has fought the IDF in a stand up fight has been whipped badly. Some have pulled out a pseudo-draw (Egypt), but then made a permanent peace. Hezbollah didn't exactly win in 2006, but did better than many thought possible so got some street credit. But the IDF learned the right lessons and Hamas found that out in a bad way.

If Hamas is going to follow through on this line of thinking, they are going to get smashed up worse the second time. Sure heavy weapons can stop armored vehicles, but they can only do it if you have the right setup and support. Hamas has no air power, they have no supporting artillery worth mentioning (light mortars, not nearly powerful enough), they have no terrain advantage, and with the precision weapons the IDF packs they can't even hide so much anymore. And heavy weapons can't move. You set up a guided AT missile site and its going to stay there for awhile. If it doesn't move, it will be seen, it will be targeted and it will be taken out. If they put it on a truck, then the air force and drones get to play.

Yeah, I am beginning to think I need to lay off the French when I am bashing militaries.


  1. I would *love* to see a stand-up fight between Hamas and Israel; they should sell tickets.

  2. I wonder if what caused Hamas to lose wasn't so much a lack of heavy weapons but a serious will by the Israelis to fight unconditional warfare and not worry about collateral damage. I gather that in 2006 what caused Israel to lose was that they went into the fight rather restricted on what they could and couldn't do. Therefore if Hamas decides they want to try a more conventional fight, then they have definitely lost.

    And hey - are you saying Battletech 3rd edition isn't THE guide to true tactics!?! Why thems fightin' words! Time for me to call up my Marauder and Rifleman platoons and challenge you to dice at 60 paces.

  3. The IDF's problem in 2006 was listening way to much to the AF side of the house. Once the initial target list was done, they were out of luck. They didn't focus enough on recon and actual close in fighting. The IDF had been working on crowd control and anti-insurgency stuff and found itself in a shooting war. They did pull out a minor victory, but it was not the earth-shaking terror of the old IDF. So they retrained and got much better results in Gaza.

    The IDF was worried about collateral damage. There was much less than what people were expecting (thanks smart bombs!), but that was coupled with the will to drop them close to UN targets or with civilian shields around. Meaner yes, but also smarter.