27 July 2006

The Iranian Foreign Legion: Hezbollah

Hat tip to Instapundit on this!
And great thanks for Counterterrorism Blog for their Analysis!

The Israeli Defense Forces have now described actual unit to unit combat and are giving the world a much clearer vision of what they are fighting and what Iran has been doing for the last few years, if not longer. The Jerusalem Post is used by Conterterrorism Blog and I will extract from that article for their salient point, give you their analysis and then put this into perspective.

First the Jerusalem Post article [italics mine]:

Dozens of Hizbullah gunmen armed with antitank missiles and machine guns and geared up in night-vision goggles and bulletproof vests set a trap for a force of Golani infantrymen led by Lt.-Col. Yaniv Asor, commander of Battalion 51. At 5 a.m. Wednesday, Asor and his men asked the Golani command center for permission to enter an area of the outskirts of Bint Jbail. Col. Tamir Yidai, commander of the brigade, gave the green light for the operation.

Asor and his men moved quickly through approximately 15 one-story homes. But as the troops moved through the narrow alleyways, a strong Hizbullah force sent a wave of gunfire and missiles at the force, killing and wounding several soldiers in the first moments of the fight. As Asor and his men fought to regain control of the situation, other Hizbullah cells outflanked them and opened fire on the force as well as other IDF positions in the town.

The battle lasted for several hours during which Asor and his men sustained heavy casualties and killed at least 40 Hizbullah guerrillas, some in gunbattles at point-blank range. Then the evacuation of the wounded began, which lasted six hours due to incessant enemy fire. Four IAF helicopter pilots risked their lives by landing in enemy territory.
Yes this is a nasty bit of work, but now see the analysis from the Counterterrorism Blog author Bill Roggio [italics in the original]:
There is one problem with the description: the statement "other Hizbullah cells outflanked them" should read "other Hizbullah squads outflanked them." Terrorist cells are by definition clandestine in nature. This ambush was the work of well trained and well armed infantry, conducting attacks at the squad and platoon level.
This is a good analysis of the characterization of the change that has taken place to move Hezbollah from a Terrorist operational group to a Military operational group. And with this the rest of the Iranian military picture starts to fall into place, and much of their activity, or lack of same, also comes to the forefront in regards to their interior military and police forces.

One of the greatest problems the Iranian regime has is that their population is no longer in support of them, due to demographics and acculturation to the West via electronics. In point of fact, the Iranian Army is not seen as a trustworthy operation for anything *other* than defense of Iran and is not receiving offensive training or necessary combat initiative training for offensive operations. They sit, do on-the-spot training and whatever is necessary for internal defense from external threats, but are not highly supported by the regime as any commander within the Army that takes any initiative is seen as a threat. So, the payments and equipment upgrades to the actual military have been minimal, and the regime stresses 'human wave' attacks of volunteers to beat back enemies. Fine against an opponent that is ill-equipped and has no areal denial weapons, but not so good against those that have those things. Light suppression fire over a broad area, as delivered by helicopters, aircraft and support ground vehicles, tends to make the 'human wave' into a bloody mess.

Second and even more problematical, has been the true thuggish behavior of the Revolutionary Guard/Special Guard/Secret Police arms of the Iranian regime. These units are demonstrating loyalist behavior, but not good training in their attempts to put down internal unrest within the Nation. The regime has gone so far as to hire foreign Islamic based thugs that have no ethnic affiliation to the populations of Iran to do things like suppress student protests and popular protests. In this case the Regular Police is *also* kept at their bases or stations and rarely, if ever, used for actual civil unrest suppression work. That work is left up to the ideological adherents and loyalist along with the paid thugs.

So, beyond a few demonstration toys of military nature and working on nuclear devices, where has all of the Iranian military money been going?

We now have the answer: Hezbollah.

The Iranians now employ a totally extra-territorial military group that they have trained and equipped better than their OWN military and police units, even their Republican/Special Guards. This is the Foreign Legion of Iran and, due to its terrorist roots, not accountable to *any* military structure or means of control outside of the directivity given to it by Iran. Giving tens if not hundreds of individuals high class equipment like night vision goggles, combat vests, effective equipment and *training* them to use these things in coordination with other units in the organization and integrate these operations is something done by Professional Military Organizations of Nation States.

Iran now fields an Army that it *directs* but does not directly *control*. They send expensive military tools and trainers for those tools and trainers for integrating operations to Hezbollah and NOT their own military which they do not trust. Iran, by doing this, is seeking hegemony over the Middle East via the proxy of Hezbollah and giving it the necessary tools and equipment to bring the rest of the Arab world to heel and threaten Turkey and South Eastern Europe, perhaps all the way to the lower part of Italy. If Iran can control Lebanon through Hezbollah and supply it with IRBM's, they will have a foreign controlled force to do its bidding in dictating its terms to how the rest of the Middle East should act according to Iran's wishes.

That is *why* Hezbollah used ships for training purposes: they aim to intimidate the rest of the Middle East and rule it via terror and exporting their forces, as needed, to trouble other regimes. Iran was hoping to bide its time and could not let Lebanon stand as a Democratic Nation that could then ask for and GET foreign military support. By roiling the pot in known ways, Iran and Hezbollah hoped to distract attention from the *real* efforts going on to make the missile threat substantial. As we have seen in Great Britain during the Blitz, bombings and rocket attacks do *not* break civilian will to fight, unless there is a Fifth Column within that Nation to degrade that will. By stirring a *little* trouble and getting everyone mad at Israel for responding to threats and kidnappings, they hoped to distract from the undermining of Lebanon and the nuclear program of Iran.

Instead, these players have not noted the scenery change that went on over the last few years. And that change in scenery means that Act II is *not* going to go by the script they expected it to go by. Now their threats are seen as *real* threats, but not by Israel... but by Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain... and many, many other Arab States in the region. They are now being confronted with a radical, totalitarian Iran that will spare no expense to gain hegemony over the Middle East to spread its culture and put the entire region under its yoke of tyranny.

All because little Israel has the *guts* to stand up to them do we know this now.


Harrison said...

The Iranians now employ a totally extra-territorial military group that they have trained and equipped better than their OWN military and police units, even their Republican/Special Guards.

You got me thinking about how that would fit in Iran's agenda, and I have to admit it's pretty ingenious of the mullahs to do so. No affiliations (except money trails) that would link it back to Ahmedinejad's regime and thus less likely to implicate Iran; the mullahs share the paranoid psyche of the Arab regimes, thereby taking precautionary measures not to empower the armed forces such that the risk of revolutions/coups becomes palatable to the Persian populace.

Other Arab leaders tend to deliberately play factions, tribes and sects off one another in the military to nurture factionalism and splintering to prevent such revolutions from materialising. If I'm not wrong, Iran clearly possesses a dominant Persian populace radiating from the centre (Tehran) outwards. Without the diversity of allegiances to exploit, Iran cannot afford to build up huge armies of its own unlike Egypt.

A Jacksonian said...

harrison - Indeed, and further the Iranian Mullahs do not trust their Regular Army and Police as they have been evident by their absence in the uprisings within Iran. The theocrats in Tehran have a problem: their Nation is going to boil against them and their leadership is one-deep. And the problems they have been having with their Azeri and Kurdish minorities are *not* going away with harsh treatment. So, keep the Revolutionary/Special Guard close to the vest and small, bring in outside thugs (Chechens have been cited by Iranians fleeing Iran) and then support, heavily, an external army that is well trained and armed.

The reason for the latter is to demonstrate superiority and that their conception of the world is *right* via success of its spreading. A dominant Iran in the Eastern Med via Hezbollah would do this nicely, especially once armed with longer range capability. Exploit Syria via bribes, possibly using the NoKo supernotes, or technical exchanges and thus get Syrian acquiesence as a client state. By doing so the mullahs hope to pacify their own population via this.

There is no love lost for Iran in KSA or Egypt these days, no matter what they say on the current conflict, KSA in particular with its egg-shell regime does *not* like the idea of an expansionist Iran. And their announcements up to the last day have been more of the 'dictating to' Arabs than 'informing' them. That is not unnoticed in the Arab states.

I thank you for dropping by!