The sign of a successful army is adaptability. After the shabby performance of its ground troops in the 2006 Lebanon War against Hezbollah, the Israeli Defense Force took a hard look at what went wrong (something the U.S. still needs to do over the intelligence failures and amateurish post-occupation planning in Iraq). It appears that Israel has at least learned the military lessons of Lebanon, which can boiled down to, don’t underestimate your enemy and don’t send your troops strolling into battle like a walk in the park.
Israel is keeping reporters out of Gaza, but the Israeli press – which isn’t in the habit of praising the government – says the IDF has learned well. Coordination between air and ground forces has improved, commanders are leading from the front instead of sitting behind the lines watching the action on big-screen TVs, and troops practiced urban warfare in a mock Arab village (http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/showthread.php?t=103454).
Whatever the political outcome of Operation Cast Lead, Israelis seem satisfied that their army is performing competently. For a nation that sees its military as the first line of defense in a hostile region, that’s no small comfort.