Trend: Traditional military power is not dominating battles and wars against small groups of well-trained and well-armed guerrillas in the Middle East.
Fourth generation warfare (4GW) is a concept defined in 1989 by a team of American analysts, including William S. Lind, used to describe warfare's return to a decentralized form. In terms of generational modern warfare, the fourth generation signifies the nation states' loss of their monopoly on combat forces, returning in a sense to the uncontrolled combat of pre-modern times. The simplest definition includes any war in which one of the major participants is not a state but rather a violent ideological network. Fourth Generation wars are characterized by a blurring of the lines between war and politics, soldier and civilian, peace and conflict, battlefield and safety. Source: Fourth generation warfare - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jobb Robb at Global Guerrillas decribes why Hezbollah has not been decimated by the Israeli military. Will the US be sucked into another no-win situation?
Source: Global Guerrillas
Hezbollah's performance in a set-piece battle with the Israeli military (arguably once, a top notch conventional military) is an excellent example of how non-state groups have radically improved their ability to conduct tactical and strategic operations. To wit, the continued success of its efforts has put the Israelis on the horns of a dilemma: either request a ceasefire that locks in military defeat - or - push for a full invasion of southern Lebanon (each are fraught with disastrous consequences).
The central secret to Hezbollah's success is that it trained its (global) guerrillas to make decisions autonomously (classic 4GW), at the small group level. In every area -- from firing rockets to defending prepared positions to media routing around jamming/disruption -- we have examples of Hezbollah teams deciding, adapting, innovating, and collaborating without reference to any central authority. The result of this decentralization is that Hezbollah's aggregate decision cycles are faster and qualitatively better than those of their Israeli counterparts.
Leveraging force protection and an aversion to casualties
A second strategic method is to trade territory (something a non-state organization is easily able to ante up) for the blood of professional soldiers and delay. The intent is demonstrated by Hezbollah's dispersal of units across a wide geographic area in small autonomous units (defense in depth, rather than concentrating its defenses along the border). This deployment clearly shows Hezbollah's willingness to trade ground for the lives of Israeli soldiers and time.... Time is a factor that clearly works particularly in the favor of Hezbollah (due to the potential of a widening conflict) and more generally in favor of any non-state group fighting a state.