'Greta's Generals' on Expanded Israeli Offensive

This is a partial transcript from "On the Record," August 9, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Right now, Israel's invasion is growing, Israel's army has a new strategy, and there is a huge down side to this new strategy — much more bloodshed.

Let's bring in our generals on this. In Ervine, California, retired Major General Bob Scales, and in Washington, retired Major General Don Edwards.

General Edwards, you called this one last night, when you said there was going to be an expanded ground invasion because they were moving Israelis out of the border region. You called — you say it's obvious to you.

MAJ. GEN. DON EDWARDS, U.S. ARMY (RET.), FOX NEWS MILITARY ANALYST: Oh, it is. The signs were there. They changed leadership. They brought in a more senior general, a bigger fight. And it's very apparent that it's already begun. They've moved armored columns into Lebanon. They're already pushing for the Litani River. And what they're doing is right out of the history of warfare, George Patton, Genghis Khan. You go to where you want to go, you bypass the strong points of the enemy, which is the villages in this case, and the fortifications, and then you come back and clean up the area and pacify it after you've got to where you want to be.

VAN SUSTEREN: General Scales, if this is so standard, why did it take until today to sort of start the standard operation? Why — you know, why the many days of the other strategy?

MAJ. GEN. BOB SCALES, U.S. ARMY (RET.), FOX NEWS MILITARY ANALYST: Right. Well, what the Israelis tried to do is replace mass with firepower, Greta. It's a very common mistake. The Israelis thought that they could win this relatively bloodlessly by using precision strikes from the air. They thought they could isolate the battlefield, and they thought they could just put enough soldiers forward to be the eyes of the artillery and air power and take the enemy out that way.

What I think they failed to understand is that war is a two-sided contest, and both sides want to win. Hezbollah has had six years to go to school on them, and they've come up with a strategy of digging in and dispersing and going to ground and hiding, which made them extremely difficult to root out with firepower. So now it comes down to mass again.

VAN SUSTEREN: And — but I mean — I mean, it actually — I mean, maybe it seems obvious sort of in hindsight, you know, to me — you know, I'm obviously not a general, or even a private, for that matter. But so — I mean, like, I don't understand how an experienced military in any instance could think that if you're up against a guerrilla army like this, that you would ever win by firepower. By simply from the air, rather.

EDWARDS: Well, that's...

SCALES: Well, I mean — I'm sorry. Go ahead, Don.

EDWARDS: It's — as Bob said, it's a common mistake. We made that mistake early on in Iraq. And it just flat doesn't work. A good — this is a good enemy. I mean, give Hezbollah due credit. As Bob says, they've dug in and they've prepared for six years. They're fighting hard. This is excellent light infantry, and they're fighting very well. And I think the Israelis may have underestimated them, as well.

VAN SUSTEREN: General Scales, how does this Hezbollah army military train?

SCALES: Well, I mean, they're trained by the Iranians. You know, in many ways, it's not so much an army as it is a military fraternity, in many ways . They're very selective about who they take. They only take the most fanatical. They have strong clan and family loyalties that bond them together. So this is a very special army.

A good friend of mine once compared them, say, to the Nazi SS — an ideologically driven, carefully selected, carefully bonded, and reasonably well led force. This is the most difficult type of force to root out in an urban insurgency, extremely difficult task.

VAN SUSTEREN: And I guess, General Edwards, if they have no survival instinct, if — if dying is — it's a sort of martyrdom, that makes the enemy even more challenging.

EDWARDS: It sure does, and it's going to be — as you pointed out in your lead, Greta, there's going to be casualties on both sides.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is this — General Edwards, is this going to be worse, I mean, in terms of casualties? I mean, we've heard all sorts of stories. I've read things in different newspapers that this is really going to be bloody from here on in.

EDWARDS: What's bloody? Any one death is bloody, and it's more than I want to see and you want to see. But I think we could very well see 25 or 30 Israelis killed in action, 100 to 200 wounded in a day in the next couple days, and even more casualties on the Hezbollah side. And when you see the figures from Lebanon, and they say it's 900, mostly civilians, remember that these Hezbollah fighters look like civilians at lot, so it's really easy for the Lebanese to try to pass them off as civilians.

VAN SUSTEREN: General Scales, you want to take a stab at trying to guess how long before the Israelis get to the Litani River and sort of create that buffer zone and clear it out?

SCALES: Oh, I think they'll get to the Litani fairly quickly, Greta. The problem is then — as Don said, is in turning around and working backwards towards the border, where they have to clean out these village. these villages aren't villages. In many ways, they're citadels. They're little mini-fortresses. They have thick walls. They have back alleys that are very narrow. They have — they're segregated by back yards that have stone walls around them. They're really, in many ways, natural fortresses, very difficult to clear by infantry.

VAN SUSTEREN: So any — so you want to take a stab, General Scales, about when they finally get back and clear that out so (INAUDIBLE) some sort of sort of measurement how long you think this is going to last?

SCALES: Greta, best case, three weeks to a month, is kind of where I — I put my money on three weeks to a month. What do you think, Don?

EDWARDS: I think it could go that long, but I don't think they've got the time. I think there'll be a ceasefire, so I think they — we're doing a rush to crush. Let's get to the Litani River, say we've seized the area, and when the peacekeeping force comes in — and hopefully, they'll be one — the Israelis will say, Well, we had this big area all the way to the Litani. You got to secure that whole area. And they'll try to take down as much of the Hezbollah as they can. But if a ceasefire comes across on Monday, Tuesday, they'll be 25 to 30 percent done. No more.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. General Edwards, General Scales...

SCALES: I agree. I agree.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... thank you both. Thank you.

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