Lebanon War Failures a Driving Force Behind Pentagon’s Budget Changes

US Wargames Focus on Hezbollah, Irregular Combat

Today, Defense Secretary Robert Gates unveiled the new Pentagon budget for fiscal 2010. Though it followed the general trend of increased spending on the military, it differed markedly in that it sought to focus on fighting irregular combat against insurgencies, and to spend less money on high tech conventional warfare alternatives. What brought about this change?

Sure, Secretary Gates pointed to the disastrous and seemingly endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but other reports suggest that the 2006 Israeli invasion of Southern Lebanon was actually the driving force in the change.

The Israeli invasion killed over a thousand civilians, but despite fighting a much smaller Hezbollah force, the doctrine of guerrilla warfare inflicted heavy damage on the Israeli tanks. The results came as quite a shock to America’s military experts, and since then the Pentagon has been interviewing Israeli commanders and holding Hezbollah-themed wargames to examine America’s readiness to fight similar wars. Judging from Gates’ new budget, they decided the military as currently constituted simply wasn’t prepared.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.