A new report suggests that Israel’s military should train its commanders to no longer
see victory as a goal.
The Institute for National Security Studies asserted that Israel’s
military should train its commanders to view war as a “technical process.”
In this report, the institute said the changes raised doubts whether the
military brass was capable of directing a surprise ground attack or other
operations not planned way in advance.
“Now that generations of commanders have been schooled to see warfare as
not much more than a ‘technical’ process of clearing the bank of targets,
however, it is unclear to what extent the senior headquarters understands
the full scope of war, which is more complex than merely servicing lists of
14-digit coordinates,” the report, titled “Israel’s Second War Doctrine,”
Author Ron Tira, a former intelligence officer, portrayed a military
paralyzed by caution.
Tira cited Israel’s unsuccessful wars against Hamas and Hizbullah over the last decade, which included the firing of some 10,000 missiles, mortars and rockets on the Jewish state.
“It is unclear whether the current IDF culture still fosters the DNA for daring operations — at the campaign level, above the tactical or special operations level — or whether the DNA for risk management dominates at the high command levels,” the report said. “It is unclear whether today there is a commander to lead large forces in a bold and rapid surprise ground offensive, to conduct a dynamic battle that has not been planned in advance, and to cover dozens of kilometers in one day.”
The report said the military has introduced a doctrine over the last 25 years that no longer envisioned victory in war. Instead, the so-called “second doctrine” stipulated the avoidance of risk, tolerance of enemy attacks and preserving the status quo.
“Israel has prioritized cost and risk management, preferring a modest operational result at a modest cost over a chance for a brilliant operational result with substantial risk and at a higher cost,” the report, dated July 2016, said. “From a broader perspective, it can be asked whether the fact that Israel chose a modest commitment to achieve a modest result six consecutive times has somewhat eroded the cumulative image of Israeli power — among its enemies, allies, and other parties.”
The report was issued as Israel’s military prepared for another war with Hamas and Hizbullah. Officials expected a much bloodier war as Hamas was preparing attack tunnels and Hizbullah deployed precision-guided missiles. “Every conflict must end decisively,” Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said. “That is my directive.”
But the report expressed doubts over whether Israel’s military was capable of strategic victory. Tira raised the prospect that the government would block or delay major military operations meant to rapidly defeat Israel’s enemies.
“It is unclear whether in the interface between the military and political echelons there is the ability to make early decisions, or whether the current organizational culture virtually mandates delay and making decisions late, and even then only limited ones,” the report said.