For the third time this year, several missiles were fired from populated areas targeting short to mid range objectives. The last one occurred on the night of August 1st at 11:45 and clearly targeted Baabda, an area where are located the Presidential Palace and the headquarters of the Lebanese Army. This attack on a high-security military zone created a turmoil among the people living in the area as well as the Army Intelligence that was put on maximum alert.
Earlier this year, two missiles launched from a small forest near Kfarshima hit the northern suburb of Beirut; sending a message to Hezbollah in one of its stronghold. On June 20, a second batch of the Grad missiles were launched from a distant location in Ballouneh (Keserwan) and landed in the area of Baabda.
This triggered me to elaborate an amateur opinion about the military logistics behind perpetrating such attacks.
1. Objective of the operation
This is the base point from which decision makers define the purpose behind the mission. Either to send a message, to kill, to cause a bloodshed, or to create confusion. This kind of decisions are directly linked to the political instability that is reigning in Lebanon and in the surrounding countries.
Timing was also essential.
The first operation happened after a public speech of Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah and targeted a Shiaa area of Beirut, the second took place on the night when the parliament mandate ended, protestors were filling the streets of Beirut and a day before the last meeting of the Constitutional Council regarding the appeal against the extension of this same parliament. The third operation targeted Baabda and occurred on the Army Celebration Day, that also included a symbolic speech by President Michel Sleiman.
2. Intel & Team setup
Launching missiles toward a specific target is a very delicate operation that requires coordinates from where the missile is set to be launched. The 128 mm missile is an unguided 35 kg rocket with a ballistic trajectory, therefore it requires coordinates of the area, that are in the possession of the Lebanese Army, the Syrian Army (that occupied this area until 2005), factions and militias that were active during the Lebanese war, or intel was simply bought. The setting of the team should include individuals with military background, capable to handle weapons, scouting, and adequate to blend with the people living in the area.
3. Method & Target
Perpetrators study and decide the best way to reach their objective, whereas observation is key and usually done by different members of the team, and that for days prior to D-Day. By then, the type of missiles is selected and concealed, roles distributed and a drill is conducted to insure a smooth mission. A surveillance team is usually kept in the area, to report any changes that could compromise the operation.
5. Transportation – Installation – Green Light – Getaway
The 2.5 m long missile can be a heavy piece to move around, but perpetrators could have acted in a way that will not bring any suspicion; during the day and under the eyes of the whole population. One possible medium of transportation could be with missiles hidden inside PVC water pipes and transported in a small truck that will look like a regular vehicle going to a construction site. This is the critical part of the operation, whereas the installation and the dispatch of the missiles are done in a matter of minutes to avoid a long and suspicious presence in the area.
By that time, the final green light is given and the launching timer is set for few minutes after the team has left the location.