Hezbollah's current success against the IDF was both foreseeable and avoidable. The only requirement for this insight was for the IDF to embrace fourth generation warfare. Of course, that didn't happen.In short, if things continue on their current track: Hezbollah's rockets will remain intact as a looming ceasefire locks Israel into a horrible strategic position (which will likely lead to escalation and a wider war in the near term). Longer term, a loss by Israel here will ensure that the tactical and organizational approaches demonstrated by Hezbollah will be copied by states and non-states around the world. I clipped some relevant passages from the FMFM 1-A Fourth Generation War (unofficial) as examples of where Israel went astray:
Preserving states:Israel's only chance to reverse this situation and win (which will be at most a limited victory, given previous blunders) in this war is to fully embrace the light infantry approach and fight this at close quarters. This means sending the tanks back to the sheds, slowing down the air campaign (limiting it to counter-battery fire), and reducing the infantry's dependence of tactical firepower support. Further, all efforts that destabilize the Lebanese state should be reversed. Of course, this will mean higher casualties for Israel and Hezbollah may get resupplied, but it will provide a path to more battlefield success which will mitigate some of the strategic consequences of abject failure.
In situations where Marines and the joint or combined force of which they are a part do invade and occupy another country, they will often find it relatively easy to defeat the opposing state and its armed forces. While this is a decisive advantage in wars between states, in Fourth Generation situations it brings with it a serious danger. In a world where the state is growing weaker, our victory can easily destroy the enemy state itself, not merely bring about “regime change.” If this happens, it may prove difficult or impossible for us or for anyone to re‑create a state. The result will then be the emergence of another stateless region, which is greatly to the advantage of Fourth Generation entities. As is so easy in the Fourth Generation, we will have lost by winning. Therefore, we must learn how to preserve enemy states at the same time that we defeat them.
What to expect:
As Fourth Generation war spreads, it will be inevitable that, even if all the advice offered above is followed, Marines will find themselves fighting Fourth Generation enemies. It is important both for the preparation for war and the conduct of war that Marines know that Fourth Generation war is above all light infantry warfare. As a practical matter, the forces of most of our non-state, Fourth Generation adversaries will be all or mostly irregular light infantry. Few Fourth Generation non-state actors can afford anything else, and irregulars do enjoy some important advantages over conventional forces. They can be difficult to target, especially with air power and artillery. They can avoid stronger but more heavily equipped opponents by using concealment and dispersal (often within the civil population). They can fight an endless war of mines and ambushes. Because irregulars operate within the population and are usually drawn from it, they can solicit popular support or, if unsuccessful, compel popular submission.
How to fight 4GW opponents in battle:
Light infantry is the best counter to irregulars because it offers... First, good light infantry (unless badly outnumbered) can usually defeat almost any force of irregulars it is likely to meet. It can do this in a “man to man” fight that avoids the “Goliath” image. If the light infantry does not load itself too heavily with arms and equipment, it can enjoy the same mobility as the irregulars (enhanced, as necessary by helicopters or attached motor vehicles). Second, when it uses force, light infantry can be far more discriminating than other combat arms and better avoid collateral damage. This is critically important at both the mental and moral levels.
One final note. Before this conflict is over, Israel should invite all the authors of the 4GW manual referenced above, as observers to this conflict. Further, they should then be engaged as consultants on the development of a new field manual for the IDF that supports fighting 4GW forces. Of course, Israel is free to ignore this advice, although I am not sure how many more failures like this it can absorb before it is in a completely untenable situation strategically.