Thursday, February 2, 2012

Chief of Staff: Next War will be Short and Harsh

by Gil Ronen

Chief of General Staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, painted a worrying picture of the military threat to Israel in a speech at the annual Herzliya Conference on Wednesday.

"The threats against Israel have not disappeared," he said. "What was relevant in the past remains relevant. Eight Syrian military divisions are stationed between the Sea of Galilee and Damascus. These forces are currently inactive, but that may change tomorrow morning."

"An extraordinary amount of [enemy] ordnance covers every region of Israel," Gantz said. "Every region in Israel is currently under threat. Our enemies are trying to create a military system that skips over Israel's defense capabilities and directly targets the strategic depth of the State of Israel."

The enemy wants to damage Israel's ability to function in the next war, he explained. They want to "wreak destruction and generate a victory story for the day after. They understand that the campaign will be short and harsh, but they will try and hit us hard to generate these achievements." All this, he said, is part of the ongoing Arab strategy of "strategic attrition" against Israel, adopted when conventional wars proved unable to defeat the Jewish state.

Gaza and Lebanon are "two of the largest ammunition and weapon 'storage facilities' I know," he said, owned by Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad, and other terror organizations. "The Middle East is currently arming more than any other region in the world, and we are the target of all this ammunition."

"Our enemies acknowledge the strength of the IDF, they have seen it in the past and they understand what a western force with high-tech weapons is capable of." Besides conventional military means, he said, they have taken to operating from within urban regions, where they take advantage of innocent civilian populations. "In Lebanon there are buildings that contain both civilian residential apartments and a 'rocket room '– in the same building."

According to Lt. Gen. Gantz, aside from complex fronts our enemies are also "planning attacks using high-tech rockets, portable systems such as anti-tank missiles, and accurate, target-specific and long-distance missiles. We saw this during the Second Lebanon War. Our Navy forces and strategic posts in the Mediterranean Sea are also under threat."

The enemy is mainly targeting the Israeli home front and civilian population, "as an attempt to harm our operative capabilities."

Lt. Gen. Gantz stressed that in the face of the different threats the IDF must continue to develop offensive capabilities, alongside accurate intelligence capabilities and air defenses for defending civilian populations. "It is crucial to ensure our infantry maneuvering capabilities. It must be strong, well-trained and well-equipped, since it will be required to operate in a field more challenging than ever. This is not an anti-tank missile fired from 300 meters we are taking about – this is an anti-tank missile that is accurately fired from six kilometers away."

Lt. Gen. Gantz said that the IDF has grown much stronger in the past few years but needs to maintain this trend. "We are a powerful nation and if we don’t maintain this strength, we simply will not exist."

Gil Ronen


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