Raining hell on Falluja is a tactic bursting with political danger. So why do it? The answer, according to Newhouse's David Wood, is because thin-skinned American Humvees can't handle an up-close fight."A shortage of armored combat vehicles in Iraq is pressing U.S. forces into a cruel dilemma: either advance stealthily on foot, or hold up at a city's outskirts and use artillery, mortars and airstrikes," Wood writes.
"Using bombs and AC-130s is a strategic defeat," given the political repercussions, said Kenneth Brower, a weapons designer and consultant to the U.S. and Israeli military. "But we've had to use them."In contrast, Israel has developed special armored vehicles for urban combat in Gaza and the West Bank, senior Israeli officers said, enabling them to drive up close to the enemy and use pinpoint weapons. Soldiers ride into Palestinian neighborhoods in tanks with turrets replaced by armored boxes with bulletproof glass, which allow the vehicle commanders to see 360 degrees without exposing themselves to fire.American tanks and infantry fighting vehicles, like the Bradley, have notoriously restricted vision when hatches are closed. In city streets, they must operate with crewmen exposed in open hatches or be flanked by walking infantrymen to protect against side attack."We have a whole spectrum of vehicles that enable you to see where you are going and who shoots at you, without being hit," said a senior Israeli officer who recently commanded a brigade in Gaza."This enables you to advance inside the city and to get closer" to the enemy, said the officer, who spoke on condition that he not be identified by name. "As far as I can recall we have never used indirect fire in 3 1/2 years in the West Bank and Gaza."