Lessons Not Learned: The Israeli Experience in Lebanon (1985-2000) and America’s Forever Wars

This apparent lack of interest in “Israel’s Vietnam” appears tragic when one considers how closely the contours of that conflict foreshadowed the tactical and operational challenges American forces would face in the “Forever Wars” of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Perhaps no foreign conflict has ever influenced the U.S. military as much as the Yom Kippur War did. Following that conflict’s conclusion in October 1973, delegations of U.S. military officers and analysts travelled to Israel to consult with the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) about their recent combat experiences. These discussions significantly impacted the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Command’s thinking, especially for influential officers such as Generals William E. DePuy and Donn A. Starry, the first two commanders of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC). TRADOC’s annual report for 1975 declared that the “war in the Mideast produced startling and stark facts about modern combat,” details that were seen as particularly relevant to a future conflict in which outnumbered NATO forces—surprised by Soviet offensive action—would face forces armed with the same lethal weapons provided to Egypt and Syria. The extrapolation of the lessons learned from the battles in the Sinai and Golan helped spur a reinvention of U.S. doctrine and training that evolved over the next decade to become FM100-5, AirLand Battle, and eventually produced a military triumph in the sands of the Middle East rather than in the Fulda Gap.

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Source: Center for the National Interest