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On 12 July, 2006, in reaction to a cross-border attack conducted by Hezbollah, which left eight Israeli soldiers killed and two abducted, Israel launched a 34-day campaign against the Lebanese insurgency. In its aftermath, the performance of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and Israel’s political leadership – in what later became to be known as the Second Lebanon War – was the subject of courageous self-examination. A large number of investigation groups examined the war within the IDF and a national commission of inquiry – the Winograd Commission – researched and evaluated the IDF’s performance as well as that of the country’s civilian leaders.

The Second Lebanon War belongs to a larger family of confrontations that includes Afghanistan and Iraq, in which a very modern military encounters a local insurgency. Hence, there is much that the armed services of the United States and the United Kingdom and their civilian authorities can and should learn from Israel’s 2006 war with Hezbollah. In addition, there is much that the U.S. and the UK can learn from the manner in which Israel’s military and civilian leaders went about investigating their own performance in the war. The results of these investigations as well as the actual implementation of conclusions reached, is another important dimension of this process.

This one-day conference to be held by RUSI, and co-sponsored by the Anglo-Israel Association (AIA) and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, is designed to explore these issues by bringing together a distinguished group of speakers from Israel and elsewhere to pursue the following agenda:

  • Ascertain the main conclusions reached by the Winograd Commission, as well as by the IDF’s investigative teams;
  • Attempt to provide an interim net-assessment of the war’s strategic consequences;
  • Explore the lessons that should be learned from the war for doctrine and force-structure;
  • Examine the decision-making process with particular emphasis on the pathologies revealed in the war in the realm of civil-military relations in a modern state;
  • Address the lessons that can be learned from the war about the effects of weapons technologies in a counter-insurgency war;

Conference sessions will encompass:

Session I:  Baseline: Israel’s Performance in the 2006 War. In retrospect, what were the strategic outcomes of the 2006 War? When applying a net-assessment analysis of the war’s consequences, what were the different parties’ gains and losses as a result of the war? In the end, who won the 2006 war in Lebanon? This session will address these important questions and serve as the starting point for the other sessions of the conference by providing a synopsis of the Winograd Commission’s findings. The main conclusions reached from other unclassified accounts of the war will also be elaborated.

Session II: Lessons for Doctrine and Force Structure. What lessons should be drawn from the 2006 encounter regarding a modern military’s operational doctrine and force structure for counter-insurgency war? In particular, what lessons should be drawn in this realm regarding the role of airpower in such operations? What does the war tell us about the efficacy of “effects-based warfare”?

Session III: Civil-Military Pathologies. This session of the conference will explore the process by which important decisions were made during the war. Particular emphasis will be placed on certain pathologies of civil-military relations in a modern democratic

Session IV: Technology and Counter-Insurgency. Are there particular conclusions that can be drawn from the Second Lebanon War regarding the role of technology and the efficacy of specific weapons technologies in counter-insurgency operations?

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