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We Were Caught Unprepared: The 2006 Hezbollah-Israeli War U.S. Army Combined Arms Center Combat Studies

2006 Lebanon War

The 2006 Lebanon War, also called the 2006 Israel–Hezbollah War and known in Lebanon as the July War and in Israel as the Second Lebanon War, was a 34-day military conflict in Lebanon, Northern Israel and the Golan Heights. The principal parties were Hezbollah paramilitary forces and the Israel Defense Forces.


The Combat Studies Institute (CSI) is pleased to present Long War
Series Occasional Paper 26, We Were Caught Unprepared: The 2006
Hezbollah-Israeli War by CSI historian Mr. Matt M. Matthews. The outcome
of the war that was, at best, a stalemate for Israel has confounded military
analysts throughout the world. Long considered the most professional and
powerful army in the Middle East, with a history of impressive military
victories against its enemies, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) emerged
from the campaign with its enemies undefeated and its prestige severely

Matthews’s historical analysis of the war includes an examination
of IDF and Hezbollah doctrine prior to the war, as well as an overview
of the operational and tactical problems encountered by the IDF during
the war. His research convincingly argues that the Israeli reliance on
poorly understood and controversial Effects-Based Operations (EBO) and
Systemic Operational Design (SOD) warfighting theories, and a nearly
singular dependence on air power, were root causes of Israeli problems.
Additionally, after years of counterinsurgency (COIN) operations in the
Gaza Strip and West Bank territories, IDF ground forces were tactically
unprepared and untrained to fight against a determined Hezbollah force
that conducted what was, in many ways, a conventional, fixed-position
defense. In researching this study, Mr. Matthews interviewed several
prominent IDF officers and other experts in the field, many of whom had
not previously been interviewed. The result is an insightful, comprehensive
examination of the war.
In 2006, Hezbollah demonstrated that terrorist groups around the
world are capable of learning from, adapting to, and exploiting weaknesses
in conventional military forces. Inasmuch as the US Army has focused
almost exclusively on irregular warfare since 2001, the lessons offered in
this analysis are particularly relevant. We believe that this study will be of
great use to the US Army as it conducts current operations and prepares for
an uncertain future in which potential enemies are watching and learning.
CSI–The Past is Prologue!
Timothy R. Reese
Colonel, Armor
U.S. Army Combined Arms Center
Director, Combat Studies Institute