The IDF and Operation Cast Lead

Posted here with permission of The RUSI Journal - Israel's Operation Cast Lead and the Gaza Strip Missile Conundrum (August 2009) by Sergio Catignani.

Israel's assault on Gaza in early 2009, Operation Cast Lead, achieved significant tactical successes and managed to redeem the Israel Defence Forces' poor performance during the 2006 Lebanon War. This paper examines Israel's military and public information campaign and why Cast Lead failed to accomplish the government's two main goals of stopping rocket attacks on Israel and the influx of weapons for resupplying Hamas.

Israel's Operation Cast Lead and the Gaza Strip Missile Conundrum

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Sergio Catignani:

Placing the word "learning" in quotes in that context is quite -- and regrettably -- appropriate. People in the Army have learned a great deal. Whether the institution has learned anything will be ascertained in time. I would indeed appreciate a pointer to your article when published.

It is certainly true that "stated objectives play some role in determining what an organization should do or aim for or else it would be a total free-for-all guessing game." While militaries have had to resort to much guessing when politicians are typically vague about objectives, an even greater potential for demolishing public support is engendered.

Ken,

Thank you for your comments.

Regarding your points, in a sense I prescribe to what you're arguing and, in fact, I have been toying with the concept of 'organized hypocrisy' for quite some time. When orgs/institutions are subject to multiple and often contradictory demands, they will often state one thing, decide another and may altogether act very differently. This is also known as decoupling in the sociological literature.

This is often the case with militaries that have to deal with the full spectrum of operations, etc. I have applied the concept to the case study of the US Army's "learning" process during the GWOT. If the article, which has just been submitted for review, is published, I will let you know about it.

Still, I do believe that stated objectives play some role in determining what an organization should do or aimr for or else it would be a total free-for-all guessing game. However, having said that, I can't say that militaries have not had to resort to such guessing when politicians have been very vague about objectives...as has been the case of the US/UK,etc. in the GWOT and in the case of 'Mini-me' Israel in its local war on terror (or insurgency)...

Thanks again,
Serge

Sergio Catignani:

I have no remarks pertaining to your article but I do have a couple on your comment above:

"Does that mean we will have to ignore every statement given by governments and their militaries whether they are found in the media, official policy directives, national security strategies, and even in fieldwork interviews, etc.?"

That would be quite wise. Politicians cannot tell the truth, it is something they do not do.


Plus today's instant worldwide communication mean that for OpSec purposes, much dissimulation is required.

"If so, please let the strategic studies community know what and how we should understand government's objectives / intentions.

Watch what they actually do then apply Occam's AND Hanlon's Razors. That does not have to post facto; indications are generally present well in advance.

Those, by the way, are utterly serious points.

Bill,

Can you please be more specific what you mean by factual errors? Are you misinterpreting interpretation with facts?

Regarding your second comment. I did state that. Clearly the IDF wanted to send a message to all of its insurgent enemies. It has been trying to do so since its establishment and I would argue not very successfully.

Regarding your comment on stated intentions, well that's a pretty moot point and not really original. Does that mean we will have to ignore every statement given by governments and their militaries whether they are found in the media, official policy directives, national security strategies, and even in fieldwork interviews, etc.?

If so, please let the strategic studies community know what and how we should understand government's objectives/intentions (apart from using hypnosis on the actual decision-makers)?

The article contains numerous factual errors and fails to understand te central dynamic Cast Lead created of under mining the Hamas ability to "resist" in the same way Hezbollah perceived themselves to have done.

More over Cast Lead was as much about the Lebanon and Hezbollah as it was Gaza.
Stated intentions are not necessarily actual intentions.