Israel, Iran and the evolving asymmetrical & conventional missile warfare part one of four

The tiny country of Israel is at the epicenter of the revolution in military air warfare. Sadly and mostly unrecognized by military professionals this tiny state is in the heart of the firestorm of Iranian asymmetrical rocket warfare. The Islamic Republic of Iran has spent several billion dollars from its oil resources to wage this war through its militant proxies Hezbollah and Hamas. 

The changing face of war, rocket warfare to cruise missiles

In the aftermath of the heavily air-centric Persian Gulf War of 1991 against Saddam Hussein, Israeli military decided to shift its doctrinal emphasis progressively toward precision standoff attack operations in its unfolding concept of warfare. Whereas IDF's current military doctrine ground maneuver warfare dominated overall strategy and tactics. In addition, the Israeli Air Force staff became heavily influenced by US Armed Forces following military campaigns after the 1991 war.

The evolution of air power took a giant leap in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. In response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, the U.S. and other 39 other countries launched a military operation known as Operation Desert Storm.  Cruise missiles, stealth air craft and precision guided munitions (PGMs) proved to be integral and indisputable part of modern warfare. However the cruise missile had come into its own age as a key player and game changer. Pentagon’s strategy embraced this new  air operations as air-dominated subsequent US combat successes in Operations Deliberate Force, Allied Force, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom.

The Israeli Air Force commanding staff persuaded Israeli politicians that they could expand their military capacity beyond traditional air missions and cope efficiently with new security challenges. Halutz had commanded the Israeli air force between April 2000 and July 2004, plus his enthusiasm for the air power was unequivocal. The chief of staff, Halutz planned cuts in the IDF's ground forces and emphasized reliance on the air force. The IDF sought to tackle low-intensity conflict with a blend of air-power and special forces.

 But at this juncture I will digress in order to bring a fuller comprehension of the situation, how simple technology can radically alter the battlefield. Naval battleships, these steel behemoths were the nuclear weapons of their day. Countries balances of power and strength were measured in their battleships.  In its era from  the 1860's leading up to WWII, no one could conceive of the battleship demise, let alone to an inconspicuous flying contraption the bi-plane.  One of America’s early advocate for aircraft military power in the late 1900’s’ was William Billy Mitchell. The 20th century brought amazing advances in all aspects of life, but the most significant military advancement was the discovery of powered flight. During their early years, the potential of airplanes was not recognized During World War II, most of the great battleships  sunk by aircraft.

.Billy Mitchell (1879-1936) was a United States Army general regarded as the father of the United States Air Force. This title was only given to him after his death as a civilian. Mitchell received many honors following his passing, the Medal of Honor, including a commission by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as a Major General. It was the Japanese aerial attack on Pearl Harbor in the opening of round of WWII vindicated him, shook sense into the American military & political establishment.

His beliefs held the air power had made the naval battleship obsolete enraged naval and civilian political leadership.  Mitchell’s claims ran directly counter to prevailing beliefs, both among military leadership, civilian politicians, and President Coolidge. "My opinion is," he announced boldly, "that you can make a direct attack on ships from the air in the future."

However, in 1921 he was allowed to test his air war theories. A series of joint Army-Navy exercises, known as Project B. Surplus, captured WWI ships, and obsolete warships used as targets. Project B opened with the bombing of a submarine, working upward through a destroyer and a cruiser to a battleship, the allegedly unsinkable German battleship Ostfriesland. The Ostfriesland took several direct hits and sank in 212 minutes. Mitchell also sank the USS Alabama, and in 1923, off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, the USS Virginia and the USS New Jersey. Despite the "success" of the air bombing experiments, America's defense budget was scaled back and building airplanes was not considered an option.

 Billy Mitchell  was court-martialed for insubordination after accusing Army and Navy leaders of an "almost treasonable administration of the national defense" for investing in battleships instead of aircraft carriers. Later he was forced to resign from the military in 1926.  . After leaving the military service, Mitchell spent the next decade writing and preaching air power to all who would listen. As he stated so many times,” "One thousand bombardment airplanes can be built and operated for about the price of one battleship,"

The ever changing face of air power to asymmetrical rocket warfare.

Israel was the first country to be attacked by Scud missiles; this was from Egypt in the 1973 Yom Kippur war. In 1973, the Egyptian Air Force conducted preempted devastating attacks against vital Israeli command & control centers, using the air-launched cruise missiles.

The Agranat Commission was an Israeli national inquiry commission established on November 21st, 1973 to investigate the IDF’s function during the Yom Kippur War. Even with some 1500 pages released most of is still classified.

Over the years bits and pieces are still being released, even as late as 2012 have surfaced.  The Commission later referred to the Scud missiles and saw them as a factor that could have changed the balance of power on the battlefield. Even though Egypt only fired three Scud missiles, it did have FROG -7s which it put to go effect on the opening round of the 1973 War.

FROG missiles: The R-65 or FROG-7 is short-range, road-mobile, solid-propellant unguided rocket designed for use on the battlefield. The name “FROG” comes from NATO, which designated it early on as the Free-Rocket-Over-Ground. The FROG is an unguided missile, primarily a long-range artillery system. The angle and direction of the launch are the primary determinants of where the rocket will land. The mobile launchers allow the system to keep up with front-line infantry units. The FROG-1 had a range of 25 km (16 miles) and deployed a 1,200 kg warhead.

 FROG missiles were fired into the Israeli Bar Lev Defensive Line in the Sinai. Frog missiles fired at the various Israeli command posts there. Rocket launchers  aimed projectiles as so to explode against the forward slopes of the Bar Lev line as to detonate any Israeli mines placed there.  On the northern front, Syrian Forces fired about twenty FROG Missiles into the Jezreel and Huleh valleys. From Lebanon, Arab Palestinian Fedayeen Forces fired about 30 rockets into Israel.  There were reports Israeli troops captured stockpiles of Syrian chemical weapons supported the view that Syrian combat troops received these weapons during the Yom Kippur war.

No other country in the world but Israel has endured, subjected to such continuous rocket warfare. This air war is evolving by the hands of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Tehran has armed its militant proxy Hezbollah with drones, cruise missiles to Scud missiles. Drones have found their way into the camp of Hamas.  Iran wants to arm Hamas with deadly cruise missiles, more advanced rocket artillery. Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) who is the heart of the Islamic Republics missile warfare doctrine and missile production.  They boast of the 4th largest missile arsenal in the world.

Armed Forces of Iran 'Mosaic Warfare Doctrine' Autonomous Decentralized Combined Regular, Irregular and Asymmetrical Warfare

Unlike centralized command and control of all armed forces branches, elements and entities, Mosaic Doctrine grants significant autonomy and freedom of self-determined actions. The overall decision-making is given to all military branches, elements and entities. As a result, all decisions and actions are asynchronous, concurrent and autonomous, leading to efficient and fast decision making in the battlefield environment.

 Mosaic Doctrine based warfare, conception and development is often attributed to Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Officers and staff, however in reality its bedrock is General Salehi. American and Western Intelligence agencies tend form rather simplest interpretations of this military doctrine. In General Salehi’s military theoretical application of Mosaic Doctrine, not only applies to small groups of infantry units, but the full spectrum of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s warfare capabilities. That would include using any international assets such as Hezbollah, Hamas or other militant proxies. Since Mosaic Doctrine requires an all-inclusive use of International military assets and these Iran proxies are trained, supported by the IRGC.

Mosaic Doctrine warfare theory conceives of using inferior military technology to defeat far superior advanced military technology, even employing chemical warfare assets. Developing these tactics and strategy was a critical necessity in the Iran –Iraq war.

Shaping Iranian Mosaic Warfare Doctrine Theory and Developmental Concepts are highly influenced by Chinese, North Korean (China & North Korea longtime ally and collaborators) and Vietnamese Warfare Doctrines. In addition Tehran’s research from Israel’s combat methods in Lebanon to US Combat Operations & methods against Saddam Hussein, and America’s Afghanistan Strategy.

The Iranian concept of asymmetric response is a unique amalgamation of elements of conventional warfare, special operations, insurgency tactics and terrorism. It is not defined officially and is hardly to be found in any document (at least publicly known). Rather it represents a systemic set of religious thoughts, strategic visions, political considerations, which are practically translated into the military forces structure, operational doctrines and tactical procedures.

Tehran’s military strategists were taking due measure of this new IDF emphasis on precision standoff attacks. In response, they developed and adopted an asymmetric counter-strategy aimed at negating Israel’s standoff advantage.

To offset Israelis air power Hezbollah militant forces were armed with rocket artillery over 14,000 short- and medium-range rockets in calibers between 100mm to 302mm. Rockets were hidden away throughout southern Lebanon just north of the Israeli-Lebanon border. These types of rocket artillery were originally designed for area-suppression and psychological warfare weapons to support tactical assaults

However in the 2006 Hezbollah war, these rockets gained a distinct strategic resonance, reaching their pinnacle with hundreds fired daily on objectives in northern Israel for approximately five weeks. The larger caliber rockets, essentially Syrian origin 302mm (named Khaibar-1 by Hezbollah) and Iranian Fajr-3, were employed to strike deep into Israel, repeatedly hitting and virtually closing down the strategic port city of Haifa and even landing halfway down the coast of Tel Aviv. Some 90 percent of the rockets fired by Hezbollah were short range rockets. This rocket arsenal, which offered Hezbollah the ability to hold Israel’s northern territory at constant risk with virtual impunity, was sufficiently large, concealed, and dispersed that no number of attempted suppressive air attacks by the IAF, in the absence of near-perfect real-time tactical intelligence regarding the locations of those weapons, could have prevented the terrorist organization from launching sustained barrages of rockets against northern Israel at will.

The Islamic Republic’s military strategists incorporated the lessons learned from the 2006 Hezbollah war, refined them and incorporation them into Hamas and the Gaza Strip. The IRGC Mosaic military doctrine seeks to transform Judea & Samaria (West Bank) into a military front against Israel. Judea & Samaria would become a strategic and tactical asymmetrical rocket warfare staging area. In short it would become the twin nightmare of the Gaza Strip .. to be continued