Skip to content

Tarawa, Peleliu, Iwo Jima, Okinawa … Lebanon?

*Updates below*

The more I hear in the news about the battle in southern Lebanon, the more I think back to World War II. I wonder if there are any significant similarities between: 1) Hezbollah’s reliance on bunkers and tunnels, and 2) Japan’s island-defense strategies between 1943-45?
In the Battle of Tarawa, the Japanese employed their early-WWII strategy of trying to stop the U.S. Marines at the water’s edge. That strategy changed at the Battle of Peleliu to a more elastic defense geared toward drawing out the bloodshed and inflicting maximum casualties on the Marines. The Battle of Iwo Jima amplified that effect, and by the time the Battle of Okinawa really got going, the Japanese had refined defensive warfare into a bloody science of attrition.
Now I keep hearing news reports of surprisingly stiff Hezbollah resistance against Israeli incursions in southern Lebanon. On the plus side, Israel enjoys air superiority, and it has also effectively cut off the Hezbollah fighters from resupply and reinforcement, much like our Navy did to each Japanese-held island we chose to invade. Granted, this isn’t a full-scale invasion (yet) and the defenders have reportedly chosen to build their bunkers in urban areas, so the parallels to our own WWII Pacific Campaign aren’t that strong yet. But I wonder how this battle will develop, and if there might end up being more similarities to 1943-45 than we see so far. If the diplomatic busybodies “international community” actually sits still long enough to let this fight play out, I will be paying very close attention to how Israel ends up rooting out and killing these Islamist fanatics.
Here’s hoping we end up with a decisive win for the West and a crushing, humiliating defeat for Islamism.
Update: Great reading on the Pacific War:

Utmost Savagery

Joseph Col Alexand…

Best Price $2.59
or Buy New $6.99

Privacy Information

Goodbye, Darkness

William Manchester…

Best Price $3.25
or Buy New $11.53

Privacy Information

Update: Even though it’s a quote from a story by DEBKA (which is notoriously unreliable), how did I miss this?

Last week, Israel’s army chiefs believed they had encountered Hizballah’s primary war tactic — Viet Cong-style guerrilla warfare out of hundreds of small bunkers scattered across the country. This week had scarcely begun when a still more formidable impediment was discovered: Hizballah camouflage techniques borrowed from the Japanese in the 1945 Iwo Jima battle. To stop the rockets coming, Israeli special forces must continue to blow up the tunnels and also adopt the methods the US Army’s methods for overcoming the Japanese dug in at Iwo Jima and other Pacific islands at the end of World War II. Without regard to losses, they stormed Japanese dug-in positions and camouflaged units, using flame throwers and gasoline to burn the foliage concealing the enemy …
In the first ten days of the war, therefore, the Israeli air force bombed out empty Hizballah premises in South Beirut and Baalbek, but missed the moving woods and vegetation which concealed the rocket launchers — which explains why the blitz continued notwithstanding heavy Israeli air force assaults on Hizballah’s centers and strongholds.

I’ll be watching the news for more reports like this to see if more reliable sources confirm it.