Officers at Fallujah were trained in Israeli urban warfare tactics

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

BAGHDAD The U.S. military has employed Israeli urban warfare tactics during the current invasion of the Iraqi city of Fallujah.

U.S. officials acknowledged that hundreds of officers have trained in Israel over the last two years in urban warfare and counter-insurgency. In September, scores of U.S. officers trained at the Adam urban warfare school northeast of Tel Aviv, a facility that contains a mock Arab village.

The U.S. officers trained in Israel relayed their expertise to the U.S. Army's Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk, La. Over the last two years, the army center has increased the number of mock Arab villages from four to 18 and employed Arab speakers for urban warfare exercises.

A key Israeli lesson adopted by the U.S. military was the need to maintain surprise during an infantry advance in an Arab urban environment.

Officials said the Army and Marine Corps have employed tactics developed during the Israeli military invasion of West Bank cities in 2002.

They said the Israeli methods helped save soldiers and accelerate the advance through Fallujah.

"We have learned a lot regarding urban warfare tactics in the Middle East from our allies," an official said. "Yes, this includes Israel."

In the Fallujah operation, U.S. troops broke through walls of Iraqi homes to avoid exposure in the city's narrow alleys, believed to have been mined by insurgents.

Another Israeli lesson was the use of air platforms to target enemy combatants during street battles. In Fallujah, the United States has employed AC-130 gunships to target insurgents in downtown Fallujah. In the Gaza Strip, Israel has used the Apache AH-64A attack helicopter to strike insurgents and their vehicles.

On Wednesday, the U.S. military said it has captured 70 percent of Fallujah and killed about 80 insurgents. The military, reporting light casualties, said most of the fighting was taking place in the center of the city.

"The enemy is fighting hard but not to the death," Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz, the multinational ground force commander in Iraq, said in a Pentagon videoconference broadcast from Iraq. "There is not a sense that he is staying in particular places. He is continuing to fall back or he dies in those positions. I think we're looking at several more days of tough urban fighting."

Another Israeli tactic developed by the U.S. military in Fallujah was the use of a multi-pronged advance on insurgency strongholds in an urban area. Officials said the technique was employed in the Israeli ground offensive on the northern West Bank city of Nablus in April 2002. The U.S. force has also employed armored D-9 bulldozers to clear roads. Israel has provided the United States with 14 armored D-9 bulldozers for the war in Iraq.

Officials said Israel has also provided armor for Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, many of which have been deployed in Fallujah. They said Rafael, Israel Armament Development Authority has sold the reactive armor plates to the U.S. Army.

In Fallujah, the U.S. military also employed an Israeli method of clearing mines. The method called for a tank to fire a barrel of more than a ton of explosives and attached to a 200-meter cord.

The barrel explodes and sets off mines planted in either a field or street.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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