idf soldier armored vehicle gaza 248.88.
(photo credit: AP)
No war is like the previous one and Operation Cast Lead differs from the Second Lebanon War in several respects, primarily regarding the IDF's relationship with the media, the language used by commanders when issuing operational orders, as well as the treatment of soldiers wounded in the battlefield and the delivery of supplies to Gaza.
During the Second Lebanon War in 2006, for example, the IDF encountered difficulties in getting supplies - medical and food - to the troops in southern Lebanon. Since the beginning of the ground invasion into Gaza on Saturday there has been no criticism on this front.
One of the lessons learned from the Lebanon war included the establishment of a logistics center which trucks and armored personnel carriers can pull into and replenish supplies that they need.
"I have never seen anything like this before," said one senior officer who visited the center on Tuesday. "It's like going to the market. You drive through, stop at different stands and refill what you're missing."
Another change has been in the way the IDF has been reporting on the events in Gaza to the media. If in the last war the media knew about troop deployment as it was happening, this time around the IDF Spokesman's Office and Military Censor have employed a stricter policy under which the Spokesman's Office does not report on the location of troops inside Gaza.
Generals are also not giving interviews as they did daily during the Lebanon war. Instead, the only two officers who appear in public are IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Avi Benayahu and OC Home Front Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan.
"There is no reason to tell the enemy what we are doing and plan to do," explained another officer. "This defeats the purpose."
Another major difference has to do with the coordination between military forces operating on the ground and the air force. Before the operation, the IDF conducted a number of large-scale exercises during which field commanders practiced working together with the IAF. In this war, brigade commanders operating inside Gaza have been given the authority to activate IAF support on a discretionary basis.
Another change has to do with the language that is being used by commanders in Gaza. In a booklet distributed to them before the war, the IDF Operations Directorate ordered that they use "clear language" when issuing orders to subordinates.
Following the 2006 war, the commander of the Galilee Division at the time Brig.-Gen. (res.) Gal Hirsch and other officers came under criticism for using metaphorical language when referring to troop movements.
Medical care is also said to be more efficient. During the Second Lebanon War, the IDF encountered difficulties in evacuating the wounded from the field. There were reports of soldiers who had to wait hours before being evacuated back to Israel, and, in addition, medics and doctors could not carry heavy respirators into the field.
Prior to the current operation, the IDF had invested a great deal of resources in creating the capability to quickly evacuate the wounded from Gaza. Also, the IDF Medical Corps has purchased a new state-of-the-art light-weight respirator that weighs only 3.5 kilograms and can be easily carried onto the battlefield.