Military Capabilities for Hybrid War

Insights from the Israel Defense Forces in Lebanon and Gaza

by David E. Johnson

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Abstract

The Israel Defense Forces have gained much experience against hybrid opponents — Hezbollah and Hamas — in the recent conflicts in Lebanon and Gaza. The lessons from these Israeli experiences are relevant to understanding the capabilities the U.S. Army and the joint force will require in the future. Principal findings include the following. The basics of combined arms fire and maneuver are necessary for successful operations against sophisticated hybrid opponents who, like Hezbollah and Hamas, have a modicum of training, organization, and advanced weapons, particularly if they are operating “among the people.” Additionally, precision, standoff fires are critical, but not sufficient, to cope with sophisticated hybrid opponents. Furthermore, responsive and adequate air, artillery, and unmanned aerial system support are critical components of the combined arms fight against hybrid opponents. Finally, heavy forces — based on tanks and infantry fighting vehicles — are key elements of any force that will fight sophisticated irregular opponents, because they reduce operational risk and minimize friendly casualties.

The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Army and conducted by the RAND Arroyo Center.

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