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U.S. Eyeing Israeli Tactics for Iraq Insurgents (REUTERS) By Dan Williams TEL AVIV, ISRAEL 12/09/03 12:26 PM ET)Source: http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=topNews&storyID=3963771 Reuters News Service Reuters News Service Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Mass assaults by covert squads of soldiers to confound guerrillas and swoops by troops posing as Arabs are among Israeli tactics U.S. forces are studying for use in Iraq, Israeli security sources said Tuesday.

Israeli measures have been honed against a three-year-old Palestinian revolt in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Washington is watching, and recently sent military brass to consult with its chief Middle East ally.

"The Americans now realize their forces are in Iraq for the long haul, and are reorganizing accordingly," a senior Israeli security source said.

"Israel has been providing advice on how to shift from a reliance on heavy, armored occupation troops to mobile forces that are more effective in quelling urban resistance and cause less friction with the general populace."

U.S. forces have already toughened up in Iraq, arresting relatives of insurgents and destroying buildings used to plan attacks against allied troops.

Although the tactics are reminiscent of those employed by Israel in the Palestinian territories, U.S. officials have denied they are modeled on them.

Israeli sources declined to comment on U.S. operations in Iraq, but said American officers had studied measures that proved effective against Palestinian militants.

"SWARM" ASSAULTS

One is a "swarm" assault used by Israel in the West Bank city of Nablus in April 2002. Forces seeking militants linked to a wave of suicide bombings were unleashed on the city´s warren-like casbah in roving covert infantry squads whose movements were coordinated using air surveillance.

"The Americans are used to fighting either in force or with isolated commando teams, while the swarm tactic is a combination of both," an Israeli military source said. "It is ideal for hitting terrorists concentrated in civilian populations."

The U.S. administration is increasingly recruiting Iraqis for occupation militia and police forces and Israeli sources said that could eventually supply new members for special forces units hunting remnants of Saddam Hussein´s ousted regime.

Israeli commandos disguised as Palestinians regularly swoop on populated areas of the West Bank and Gaza to capture or kill fugitive militants. Such missions are aided by Arabic-speaking Bedouin and Druze volunteers serving alongside Jews.

While Israeli operations have gutted the Palestinian militant infrastructure, they have not stopped the uprising and may even have fueled militancy. It remains to be seen how effective such tactics would be in an Iraq under a long-term U.S.-led occupation.

"In consultations, the Americans have made it clear that they see the need for undercover work to flush out wanted terrorists. But they lack personnel qualified in Arabic and the basic cultural knowledge needed to blend in," a military source said.

"One option they are weighing is incorporating locally enlisted fighters into special forces units." (© Reuters 2003 12/09/03)


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