Bunker Busting

posted at 9:35 pm on August 27, 2006 by Bryan

I wouldn’t link my own Vent again (for reasons not the least of which is that it didn’t generate anywhere the buzz of the Vents with Mary Katharine, Bethany or Jeff), but it is the only report I’ve seen out there that gives any sense of what underground bunkers of the sort Hezbollah built in Lebanon may be like. The bunkers I photographed are on Iwo Jima, but a bunker’s a bunker, more or less. Hole, ground, in. Repeat as many times as necessary.

It turns out Hezbollah’s bunkers are rather advanced. And the IDF destroyed one that was built near a UNIFIL position. Very near. Near enough that the UN’s blue helmeted heroes must have seen some of the bunker’s construction as it was going on. And did not a thing about it.

So yes, let’s all toast the UN as it deploys yet more of the blue military man group to southern Lebanon to “keep the peace.” It keeps the peace in our time.

Update: Sky News went into a Hezbollah bunker along with the IDF. The scale of construction on this particular bunker/tunnel complex is immense. The reporter notes that it had a sense of permanence about it–the walls were painted, there was a kitchen and what the IDF says were bomb-making materials. And the whole complex was within a couple hundred yards of a UN post. And there’s another smaller bunker within about 20 yards of a UN post.

I would say it’s unbelievable, but we all know that that just isn’t the case. The UN watching while terrorists dig in is all too believable.

(h/t Brian of London)

More: That Hezzie bunker that Sky toured is amazing and disturbing. It has concrete walls, and what appears to be running water and electricity. It probably had Wi-Fi hotspots and satellite TV for all we know. To dig and fortify a complex like that takes serious effort–earth moving equipment, engineering, electricians–plus all of the above-ground construction that was on one side of the hill the bunker was dug into. It’s possible that the UNIFIL troops didn’t know what was going on just a couple hundred yards from their post, but it’s impossible that the UNIFIL troops didn’t see or hear anything.

As to how this relates to bunker wars of the past, I’m as big a believer in the utility of air power as you’ll find. But air power has its limits, and these bunkers in Lebanon seem to be outside those limits. The Iwo Jima bunkers, which were unreinforced tunnels dug by Korean slaves using pickaxes, survived weeks of sustained bombardment from US Navy battleships offshore lobbing in big, dumb bombs day and night. That bombardment left the 23,000 Japanese troops unscathed. The Marines had to go onto that island, 70,000 strong, and root out the troops tunnel by tunnel for about a month, at a cost of 10 percent of the invading force killed in action (and something like two-thirds were considered casualties by the battle’s end). Likewise, it seems clear to me that the Hezzie bunkers were built to survive aerial bombardment or bombardment by sea (assuming they’re within range of Israeli ships), even taking into account the better precision and power of today’s weapons and the obvious skill of the IDF. There is no substitute for boots on the ground when taking on entrenched enemies. If anything, the Hezzie bunkers point to a need to increase the number and/or tactical efficiency of ground-pounding forces. And if leadership plans to fight an entrenched enemy with half measures, that leadership is basically planning to fail.


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Good thing you linked to that Vent, I’d missed it, B.

Bunkers like these will make “fixing” the problems we have with terrorists much more difficult. The fact that the UN “peacekeepers” turned a blind eye to construction of these reinforces my opinion that they are an arm of the “Axis of Evil.”

Please someone edumacate me as to who’s brilliant idea the UN was and why it was formed in the first place!

Apparently Iran has extensive bunkers that house their nuclear nerve center as well. Bunkers so deep it would be nearly impossible to destroy them. (From a Discovery Times show I watched during a bout with sleepnessness.)

NTWR on August 27, 2006 at 10:08 PM

It would really help if we (and the Israelis) brought back napalm and flamethrowers. If you can find the bunkers and suck all the air out, it makes little difference how deep they are. With few exceptions, every bunker has to get air from the surface somewhere.

old_dawg on August 27, 2006 at 10:20 PM

It would really help if we (and the Israelis) brought back napalm and flamethrowers.

It would really help if we brought back everything. If one wishes to influence American foreign policy and techniques of warfare, one can do so by becoming a voting American citizen. If one wishes to have a flat guarantee that neither nuclear, biological, nor chemical weapons will ever be used against one’s people, one can very well make a petition for their inclusion as a state in the American federated republic. And if one wishes never to be tortured, one can very well pledge allegiance both to the flag and to the republic, on video and before crowds, with a big, wet, sloppy smile on one’s face.

I’m finished with “diplomacy,” “conventions,” “protocols,” “roadmaps,” and all that other, obviously meaningless nonsense. So, yes, in particular, if anyone can build a bunker and kill me with a bullet, I can very well kill him by any prudent means whatsoever.

Kralizec on August 27, 2006 at 11:36 PM

Near enough that the UN’s blue helmeted heroes must have seen some of the bunker’s construction as it was going on. And did not a thing about it.

I am sure the Israelis saw it being built, too. They were in a better position to “do something about it” than the UN.

Lehuster on August 27, 2006 at 11:47 PM

Sure looks more like an impact from a very large rock or hunk of concrete falling from a goodly distance, or from a rollover on a sharp corner of the same to me as well..

Another possibility is from a small (non-shaped)explosive charge sitting on directly on the roof of the vehicle, or a poorly designed IED charge fired from somewhere above. Either of which make the Pallies the most likely culprits.

No way in hades it was a missile, not even a ‘dud’ one.

At first I was having trouble reconciling the two photos of the same spot, one looking grey and the other looking like two years worth of rust…. I guess it could be white balance differences from the flash photo at night and natural light for the daytime one, but the daytime one STILL looks like a couple of years worth of rust, while the flash looks like fresh damage.

LegendHasIt on August 28, 2006 at 2:12 AM

Oh Crud, sorry, wrong article. Gotta learn to not have two HotAir windows open at the same time… The above was meant for the new Fauxtography thread.

Sorry.

LegendHasIt on August 28, 2006 at 2:14 AM

old_dawg reminds me of a sad story about a farmer going down a well to retrieve something. He didnt come up, so a relative went down, who also did not come up. Carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide from some underground gas source had filled the bottom of the well. They are heavier than air. The farther down, the harder it is to pump in fresh air also.

Seems to me the best bunker buster is a small nuke, and a good satellite system, to catch anything trying to escape via alternate exits.

entagor on August 28, 2006 at 2:39 AM

The bunkers I photographed are on Iwo Jima, but a bunker’s a bunker, more or less. Hole, ground, in. Repeat as many times as necessary.

What sloppy thinking. No… underground developments will vary considerably based on the type of ground, the methods used to excavate and reinforce the tunnels, and the design philosophy. Underground fortifications at Iwo Jima would be as relevant to a discussion of Hezbollah as crawling-room-only shallow unreinforced dirt tunnels used by the VC in the Vietnam War, that is to say, not really relevant at all. The Japanese garrison on Iwo Jima was far more powerful and sophisticated than the whole of Hezbollah.

As for tunnels being resistant to airstrikes, Hezbollah didn’t go a good job if Israel destroyed this major excavation with airstrikes. Contrast Iwo Jima, where the Japanese fortifications survived a much more ferocious bombardment. From the description in the link, this excavation looks more like typical a fortified defensive line than anything else. Maybe it was seen as some kind of delusional Maginot line by Hezbollah. It obviously didn’t work.

kaltes on August 28, 2006 at 8:14 AM

What sloppy thinking. No… underground developments will vary considerably based on the type of ground, the methods used to excavate and reinforce the tunnels, and the design philosophy. Underground fortifications at Iwo Jima would be as relevant to a discussion of Hezbollah as crawling-room-only shallow unreinforced dirt tunnels used by the VC in the Vietnam War, that is to say, not really relevant at all. The Japanese garrison on Iwo Jima was far more powerful and sophisticated than the whole of Hezbollah.

How do you know that? Hezbollah has deep pockets and different layers of expertise from people dressed as the Tin man with a suicide belt that says “pull string here’ to the best engineers Iranian money can buy. Engineers good
enough to build nuclear weapons.

Lebanon has different terrain, It is not all sand, and the bedrock of iwo jima also exists in the hills and mountains of lebanon. The taliban burrowed into mountain bedrock in afghanistan, and where we knew of an entrance we could do damage. Collapsing an entrance with a bunker buster is effective. Even removing one exit point out of many can reduce the ability of an enemy in war. That is why we bother removing a single insurgent’s house when we know there are many more insurgents’ houses left.

Every machine of war has a vulnerability, and tunnels can be pinched off at exits and ventilation points. Iwo Jima was well before the electronic era and before computerization of warfare.

entagor on August 28, 2006 at 8:52 AM

Un-f***ing-believeable. Except that, as Bryan notes, it is all too believable.

Truly there is nothing that critics have ever said of the UN that is not vindicated. If anything, we underestimate their dhimmitude and cowardice…

Jaibones on August 28, 2006 at 10:14 AM

I’m finished with “diplomacy,” “conventions,” “protocols,” “roadmaps,” and all that other, obviously meaningless nonsense. So, yes, in particular, if anyone can build a bunker and kill me with a bullet, I can very well kill him by any prudent means whatsoever.

Well said and RIGHT!

labwrs on August 28, 2006 at 12:49 PM

How much longer are we going to keep pussy-footing along with the UN?

Iblis on August 29, 2006 at 12:06 AM