Senior military and national security personnel “cannot really answer” the question of whether or not the IDF is ready for its next conflict, said former National Security Council chief Yaakov Amidror at a Tuesday conference hosted by the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies (JISS).
“We don’t know what the next war will look like,” Maj. Gen. (res) Amidror said.
He maintained, “Major generals will always say that they’re not ready, that they need more time, and more money.” But nevertheless, Amidror remained optimistic as Israel is at peace with Egypt, the only powerful army on Israel’s border.
JISS, Jerusalem’s new conservative think tank, held its second conference on December 27 in Jerusalem. In addition to Amidror, the conference also featured former IDF deputy chief of staff Maj. Gen. Yair Golan and other IDF leaders, journalists, and JISS Fellows.
JISS Vice President Colonel (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman opened the conference, suggesting that “change is difficult in the military” but that the Israeli army in particular is a “learning organization.”
Amidror discussed vital infrastructure that offers the IDF with new capabilities, as well as enemy infrastructure that provides new challenges to Israeli security.
On Hezbollah’s precision rockets, Amidror maintained that Israel has a lot of work to do to ensure that the northern home front is secure. With rockets and 50,000-60,000 fighters in Hezbollah’s fleet, intelligence will be key, as it was during the 2006 Second Lebanon War, when intelligence “didn’t work well enough.”
Amidror is now optimistic that the IDF’s “more precise” arms and sensors will help towards such efforts. He added that drones will continue to have more impact, perhaps exceeding forces piloted by IDF pilots and aircrafts.
Amidror alleged that the IDF is investing enormous resources in the cyber arena, which is “a huge challenge” yet it is vital to ensure that the IDF network is not hacked.
The F-35 fighter jets, with their ability to provide cockpits with information that in the past could only be found in headquarters, are changing how the air force works and are also changing Israel to a robust power in the skies, he continued.
Amidror endorsed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s submarine purchases from Germany. He views the prime minister as having a broader strategic view as compared to others in the security establishment, and further maintained that the navy can continue to project its power and provide security through Israel’s natural gas reserves.
Maj. Gen. Yair Golan touched on current challenges and various security threats such as Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, and the Palestinian Unity Government.
Israel’s current challenges, he maintained, are hitting enemy forces on the front lines using real-time precision intelligence and increasing the amount of time that the IDF allocates to training unit-level officers.
As one who took part in approving the IDF strategy to address Hamas tunnels, Golan endorsed the army’s tactic of building an underground barrier along the Gaza border as an unequivocal necessity. “We need to get to a point where we can say to the residents of the Gaza corridor that the tunnel threat is zero,” he said.
On the northern border, Golan argued that the IDF must continue to negotiate the fine line between war deterrence and loss of international legitimacy in its aims to prevent Hezbollah from obtaining new advanced weaponry. While decreasing Hezbollah’s ability to wage war with the Jewish State is complex, “We don’t do it so badly,” he said wryly. “Although we won’t have 100 percent success, it mustn’t lead us to stop trying.”
Parting from Netanyahu’s stance on the Iran deal, Golan treats the West’s nuclear deal with Iran as “a given.” He noted, however, that inspections and strict supervision of nuclear restrictions must remain tough and Israel must seek help from the US and Russia to counter Iran’s regional hegemony.
Golan maintained that the lack of Palestinian unity government is “a convenient security asset” and “a plus” to Israel. Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction agreed to form a unity government in October, but just 10 weeks later, Hamas’s leader in Gaza reported that the reconciliation deal was collapsing. The rift, he said, is “better for Israel” and for the struggle against terrorism.