Sunday, July 30, 2006

The DZ Zone: Two in the Bush-Warfare and Tactics Part I

Resident Expert and Lebanon War I Veteran DZ Discusses Bush Guerilla Warfare

The Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon lasted for more than 18 years. Thousands of infantry soldiers have set their feet in the Lebanese mud, and a bit fewer left it alive. For some reason, only around 1995 did the IDF start to change the style of warfare and training for operational tours in Lebanon for infantry. After years of experience, good and bad, the training was directed to a rare type of close-quarter-bush-contact. With the creation of a few special IDF units that “mastered” this type of warfare, the knowledge of “ Lochema b’Shetach Savuch” (bush land warfare) trickled its way down to the regular infantry units serving in Lebanon at the time; Golani, Givati, Paratroopers, and Nahal.

A good friend of mine had been sent out of my unit to open the “School of Bush Warfare” in Israel, and I wanted to learn everything he knew. I followed him around on weekends when he visited people from all the units that exist and don’t exist in the IDF to pick their brains. I was introduced to an extremely eccentric old man who told me things like; what the Hezbollah ate before going out into the field and why they can smell our farts, why you shouldn’t smile at night when there is a full moon. War is an interdisciplinary subject.

The Bush

The “bush” as we call it, has warfare techniques of all types of including open-range, trenches, urban and CQB. The type of bushes most found in the Southern Lebanese areas is usually around 1-2 meters tall, very prickly and hard to see through. Although one cannot physically pass through one of these bushes, it offers no protection against bullets or shrapnel, something that one very quickly learns in firefights in these conditions. One’s movement in this type of landscape is not flexible; there are always areas that one must pass to get from point A to point B, and that is where an ambush occurs. If one knows the territory, then it is possible to avoid these areas, but to know a bush setting is like knowing a Hedge Maze. Since it is nearly impossible to know the territory, one can only learn how to identify these areas and pass through them with utmost caution and cover.

The biggest threats in the bush are short-range shoot-outs of less than 10 meters and IEDs (mastered by Hezbollah and adopted by our American friends’ enemies in Iraq). To protect yourself from being noticed first you must learn how to move without being heard or seen. This is an integral part of the training and is unique to bush and jungle warfare. A soldier has to know how to walk on the sides of his boots and not to step on branches. He has to know what not to eat the day before battle as not to attract animals or even be smelt from far away by a nasally competent enemy. He has to know how to paint his face, neck, hands and gun to become invisible when needed. I saw soldiers that were going in for bush warfare that painted their face but not around the eyes, neck or lips. This actually accentuates the human features of the face, the thing that sticks out in the bush, and gets you shot first. I understand if the painting was more for morale but many underestimate the importance of proper and complete camouflage in this type of arena. I will not go into the all of the ways a soldier can blend in, for security reasons.

Next time I will discuss IEDs in the bush, team movement, and S2F techniques (Shit to Fan).

Until then, talk quietly and carry a big stick, preferably one with a number like 16.


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