What the West Can Learn from Israel's Tactics Against Hamas

(Vancouver Sun-Canada) Ed Fitch - Prior to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, I headed the Games Red Team, which was assigned the role of adversary to the Canadian Armed Forces security plan. We devised a fictional terrorist cell and attack plan to test Canada's defense of the Games and, in so doing, expose any flaws. Counter-terrorism has reached a level of complexity, speed, and moral dilemmas the likes of which were unimaginable a century ago. Post-9/11, Western forces operate in highly complex environments, with plain-clothed terrorists embedding themselves among and exploiting their civilian populations. Non-state actors enjoy tremendous home-field advantage. Extremist movements rather than a legitimate state, these groups aim to inflict maximum damage on Western forces while using high civilian casualties to wage a public relations war. The current battle between Israel and various terror groups in Gaza, foremost among them Hamas, reflects an extreme version of this new phase of asymmetric warfare. Israel's strategic weakness has always been its small geography (in total, Israel is about two-thirds the size of Vancouver Island). Hamas has starkly exposed that vulnerability through its unprecedented barrages of long-range missiles. Those weapons, many of which are provided by Iran, now threaten the majority of Israelis - more than five million civilians. The psychological impact can be likened to that experienced by Londoners in 1940, a 21st century blitz, albeit with iPhone apps to alert Israelis of incoming missiles. Were it not for the Iron Dome system, the country would be wracked with destruction. The tactics used by Hamas are sure to be replicated by Islamist terror movements elsewhere. Western militaries would be wise to study Israel's tactics and ensure our forces are ready for a new evolution in asymmetric warfare. The writer is a retired Canadian Major-General.

2014-07-17 00:00:00

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