The Leavenworth Way of War

History Discussion at CGSC

Jerusalem… Capital of the Jewish State?

The city of Jerusalem has a long and fascinating history.  It is the religious nexus of the three great mono-theist faiths:  Islam, Judaism, and Christianity.  It is also the center of modern revolutionary conflict between the Zionist movement and the Palestinian people.  It is further, the focus of nation state discussion, negotiation and war.  The original UN plan for the creation of Israel called for Jerusalem to be an international city belong to no single nation state.  Jordan controlled east Jerusalem, and Israel west Jerusalem,  from 1948 to 1967.  After the 1967 war Israel annexed the city and currently occupies it as the capital of Israel.  In any future  Middle East Peace settlement, the status of Jerusalem will be central.  Should it be divided again into east and west (Arab and Israeli) sectors, or should it be internationalized?  Possibly, over forty years after the 1967 war, it is impossible to go back to these previous solutions and it should remain in Israeli hands.

May 18, 2009 Posted by | A652 | , , , , , | 3 Comments

New Readings on Palestine






1948:  A History of the First Arab-Israeli War.  By Benny Morris.

Making Israel.  Edited by Benny Morris.

Interesting and very informative New York Times book review of new books on the 48 War. The review itself is a mini-historiography and well worth the read for any or all who are interested.

May 18, 2009 Posted by | A652, books | , , , , | Leave a comment

A Solution to a Complex Problem?

The partition plan for Palestine in 1947 (to be executed in 1948) was very complex and involved extensive surveys, population census, land distribution analysis, and negotiation between dozens of parties.  (Click here for a detailed an relatively unbiased description of the process)   The rejection of the plan by the Arab states neighboring Palestine resulted in Civil War, and then the 1948 war between the Arab states and declared state of Israel.  Was the plan completely inoperatable from the begining?  If it was… was a one state solution viable given the lack of a powerful Palestinian political identity, the violence in the region since 1938, and the lack of international commitment to a peace-keeping force?  Was there any one factor, that being changed, that could have saved the plan and prevented the 1948 Palestine War?  If the current Peace Process, at its heart being the two-state solution, is an attempt to implement the 1947 plan with an update to the changed demographics –does this validate the wisdom of the 1947 plan?

May 11, 2009 Posted by | A652 | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Ancient History to Modern Problems

As the above video demonstrates, the history of the Middle East is long and complex.  The Middle East was the center of the Ancient and the Mediveal world.  The question of modern policy makers is to what extent, if any, should the ancient and medieval history of the region influence twenty-first century policy and strategy.  Should the region seek inter-state harmony that is consistent with the history; or, should states in the region break with the past and establish regional relations based on the future.

May 4, 2009 Posted by | A652, Current Events | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Israel-Hizballah War: Lessons Learned

One of the focuses of the CGSC History Elective A652 is how the modern history of warfare in the Middle East shapes today’s operating environment.  This study includes the 2006 Israeli-Hezbollah War and will likely include a discussion of on-going operations by the IDF in Gaza.  However, the military events in the Middle East don’t only impact on the operating enviornment –they also impact army doctrine, force structure and training.

The assessment of the Israel-Hezbollah War is still on going but several attempts have been made at determining lessons learned.  A short list of publications on the war include Israel-Hezbollah War: A Preliminary Assessment published by the Washington Institute (see pp 48-58), and Anthony Cordesman’s Preliminary Lessons of Israeli-Hezbollah War.

Israeli offensive operations were mostly characterized as battalion, brigade and multi-brigade conventional combined arms operations which integrated special operations forces and air support.   One of many debates that emerged from the war is the degree to which COIN-like operations in the occupied territories degraded the conventional combined arms capability of the Israeli army.  Some analysts contend that this degradation was partly due to a lack of skill training, but another important aspect of it was psychological.  Israeli soldiers, units, and particularly mid-level and higher combat leaders, were slow to adjust their tactical vision of operations from the pace and circumstance of security operations to the speed and violence necessary for successful conventional combined arms combat against a motivated, disciplined, well trained and equipped adversary.  The requirement to relearn essential tactical combat skills while engaged with the enemy cost Israel casualties and made a complex operational and strategic situation even more difficult.

It is certain that much of the operational analysis of the current Israeli-Hamas operations will focus on how well the IDF has learned and adjusted operations since 2006.

A similar debate is occurring within and about the U.S. military.  Its immediate implications are tactical:  are U.S. army and marine forces able to conduct mid-intensity conventional combined arms combat operations?  A survey of a small pool of American army CGSC students indicates that mid-grade officers believe the answer is a qualified yes. 

The debate also is argued at the institutional level regarding such issues as strategy, doctrine, force structure, and combat developments.  This debate is being carried on in the professional press and at the Small Wars Journal website.  Two representatives of the opposing arguements are COL (R) Pete Mansoor, now at Ohio State University’s History Department, and LTC Gian Gentile, of the West Point Department of History.  A start to understanding the dynamics of the debate can be obtained by reading COL Mansoor’s article, “Misreading the History of the Iraq War.”  Follow the various links and you will catch the opposing view of LTC Gentile.

January 5, 2009 Posted by | A652 | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment