IDF buildup in the wake of changing threats: dangerous closed-mindedness – part 1

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz

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IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz
IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz

This “disease” is global, a full blown epidemic. But in Israel it could actually be fatal.
The situation is as follows: it turns out the powers that be, when it comes to national security, tend to prepare their armies to the previous wars. In Israel, this has reached an absurd level. Back in the day, Europe had thousands of tanks poised to engage in battle. This was during the era of the Soviet Union. But it has since disintegrated, and tanks no longer matter this much.
In Israel too, the IDF is mostly preparing for bygone wars. The mass acquisition of Stealth fighter jets (this week, it was announced Israel would eventually acquire a total of 42 stealth aircraft, each estimated at $137 million), Mark IV Merkava Tanks, advanced APCs, and so on, attests that they are preparing for a kind of war that is probably not going to repeat itself. Obviously these systems cannot all be decommissioned and arsenals require modernizing, if only so that out soldiers would not have to engage in urban warfare from Vietnam-era vehicles. Nevertheless, they are buying up stocks as though the IDF is about to engage thousands of tanks on its very border. Let’s say that were even the case, say along the border with Syria, there are still other solutions. This would of course require thinking differently, but no one is. This is not black or white, but another kind of thinking is called for given the changing nature of military conflict.

Israel HLS

For the past 25 years, the IDF has been engaged in conflicts known as low intensity warfare. In Israel’s case, this kind of military operations primarily takes the form of counter terrorism campaigns. This is where the problem ensues. Anyone who is familiar with the defense industries ought to know they have developed the means to effectively handle this sort of warfare. The problem is the perception of the defense establishment.
Israel’s leadership must make those who attack us realize what would be the cost. Here’s a recent example: Hamas launches rockets against Israel, so the IDF retaliates with rockets. The world can do little against this form of symmetry. Nothing can alter the fact that the IDF rockets have far superior precision, and that they wreak far greater devastation. But instead of using rockers to retaliate, a move that would have ended rocket fire on Israel immediately, the IDF is sending troops in, to fight from one house to the next as in Operation Protective Shield. One strike, or rather a heavy barrage of precision rockets towards Hamas launch sites, would have delivered the message far more effectively than bombing tunnel entrances.

Part 2 will conclude the issue same time tomorrow.

Arie Egozi iHLS editor-in-chief
Arie Egozi
iHLS editor-in-chief