Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

IDF commander: Olmert ordered us to stop

By Aussiegirl

A risk and casualty averse Olmert halted operations time and again during this disastrous battle. This is what happens when you get appeasing liberals in power. What an opportunity squandered to no purpose. They didn't even get their soldiers back. For the first time in years all Israelis were unified behind a fight at all costs effort. All Israelis except the leadership evidently.

IDF commander: Olmert ordered us to stop - News from Israel, Ynetnews

Ynet correspondent joins paratroopers for 48 hours on Lebanese soil, provides an account of operation that was stopped after Hizbullah hit chopper; did hesitation and panic led to loss of momentum? Could it be done differently?

[...]This was supposed to be the largest airborne operation in IDF history. A force comprising regular and reserve paratroopers was slated to land and deploy deep in southern Lebanon's central sector. The mission: Considerable minimization of short-range rocket fire. Thousands of those Katyusha rockets were fired from villages east of Tyre.

[...]About 40 fighters are sitting on the helicopter's benches and floor, along with missiles and huge quantities of weapons and ammunition. It's not a good idea to even think about what will happen if the chopper is hit. People sweat as a result of the heat, excitement, and fear. Below us we see the bright lights of northern communities. We cross the border and continue to float above dark Lebanese territory.

A full, round and large moon appears at the window and lights up the faces of those inside the chopper. The first group of helicopters landed successfully. Now is our turn. We're glued to each other as we run out. Momentarily I spot two other choppers that already unloaded the fighters taking off above us.

The sound of an explosion and a loud noise cause me to look up. I see the pink flame of the missile's engine chasing the helicopter that took off. The chopper is hit about 300 hundred meters (roughly 1,000 feet) away from us but continues to falter, engulfed in flame, for another 500 meters or so, before leaning on its side and collapsing on the ground.

The forces freeze. It's obvious Hizbullah identified the landing zone and prepared an ambush. The commander, Hagai Mordechai, decided there's no point in sending a force to the crash zone in order to look for survivors or bodies. There's also no point in attacking the site where the missile was fired from. The entire area is surrounded by forces from a reserve division and any movement can lead to friendly fire incidents.

Time is running out. We still have ahead of us a long journey in a mountainous, steep terrain before we reach our destination. We must get there and hide before daylight, so we don't become sitting ducks. The Air Force commander calls Hagai using the encrypted phone and asks for first-hand details regarding the hit chopper. His voice is quiet and stable, but he sounds worried. Several minutes later Hagai is ordered by headquarters to stop. The chopper landings will be halted for fear of more missiles, and the forces that already landed won't be moving forward to their targets. Instead, they're ordered to hide at dominating positions near the landing zone and wait for the next night.
It's hard to see Hagai's facial expression, but every fighter knows that casualties are no reason to stop the operation, particularly since such incident was to be expected. Hagai tries to explain that he accumulated enough force, more than 200 fighters, which allows him to carry out the mission. The reserve division also has significant forces in the area, but the officers at headquarters insist: Don't move. The sudden change in the mission, which is militarily unjustified, turns us into an immobile target. The decision to stop the landings can be understood, but someone has to investigate why all of a sudden the operation was frozen and the forces lost precious 24 hours.


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