by Brig. Gen. (res.) Moni Chorev
In this new monograph, Brig. Gen. (res.) Moni Chorev of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies calls for the development of a strategic theory and military doctrine suitable for “deterrence operations,” within the context of a strategic campaign of extended attrition.
Mideast Security and Policy Studies No. 115
Over the thirty years that have passed since the first Lebanon War, Israel has not conducted any wars aimed at achieving a decisive victory. With the exception of Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, all of the IDF’s operations and campaigns have been directed at achieving limited goals. The basic strategic understanding that has informed all of these operations is that Israel is currently engaged in an extended period of attritional warfare against asymmetric opponents, as part of a conflict that is insoluble for the foreseeable future.
The military operations conducted over this period have all sought to bolster and renew deterrence, so as to allow a return to routine and provide a reasonable level of security. Israel has accrued a great amount of operational experience over the course of these conflicts. However, the attempts to operationalize this combat approach paint a picture that indicates gaps and inconsistencies in logic and in the patterns of military force activity, as well as in the integration of additional strategic efforts at a national level in a way that accords with policy goals.
Deterrence operations need to be conducted as integrated inter-agency efforts at a national level, in which military action must be conducted in synchronization with additional strategic efforts, in support of the defined aims and goals. The experience gained to date has underlined the importance of coordinating military action with diplomacy, economic activities, home front preparedness, public awareness, and media efforts, in order to provide the necessary framework for effectively waging the campaign.
Although deterrence campaigns have in recent decades been the leading mode of combat pursued by Israel, and in spite of the limitations of the military to serve as the sole effective tool for achieving strategic goals in campaigns of this kind, in all this time no coherent theory has been developed that draws together the various other national level components into a unified strategic approach. The lack of such an approach, and of the mechanisms needed to realize it, leads to a continued reliance on the military effort, despite its significant limitations.
In terms of the military effort, this paper analyzes the operational conceptual framework which is based on the “decisive victory” concept, and calls for the development of a strategic theory and military doctrine suitable for deterrence operations, within the context of a strategic campaign of extended attrition. Achieving fundamental conceptual clarity is a necessary foundation for developing a coherent operational approach, one that is consistent with overall national goals. The attempt to develop these ideas and a doctrine of this kind should influence the planning and operational processes in these campaigns, as well as the IDF force development process.
The paper begins with a review of the opponent in the Gaza Strip, including aspects of the opponent’s ideological approach, strategic logic, and operational approach to conducting extended attritional warfare. The second chapter discusses the Israeli approach to deterrence operations at a strategic-national level, over the course of a continued, ongoing attritional conflict. The third chapter focuses on the military level, making use of case studies of deterrence operations in Gaza in recent years, in order to present the principal combat efforts, the difficulties faced, the lack of doctrinal clarity, and the distortions created during the planning and management of these operations.
The final chapter contains recommendations for the creation of a clear deterrence concept and theory, which will be a basis in the future for conducting operations in a more coherent and effective manner, across the range of activities forming the broader national-level campaign.
Brig. Gen. (res.) Chorev served as head of the IDF Southern Command Thinking and Planning Team. He commanded a division, and was commander of the Givati infantry brigade.
Brig. Gen. (res.) Moni Chorev
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