by Yaakov Lappin
Speaking at the 15th Annual Herzliya Conference held under the banner of "Israel in a turbulent Middle East," Maj.-Gen. Nimrod Shefer, head of the IDF's Planning Branch, said the "technology is in our hands. In the same way that we cracked the challenge of intercepting rockets in mid-flight, we will crack the challenge of underground tunnels. I'm convinced that this is in our hands," he said.
The IDF has begun deploying components of a new hi-tech underground tunnel detection system in the South near the border with Gaza. The system is still at an early stage, and it is incomplete. But it can detect tunnels.
Shefer said it was vital to ensure that the IDF develops a sound ground offensive capability that will provide victory on the battlefield. Flexibility, training, an awareness of the importance of ground operations, and being qualified for the missions are the key components of meeting this challenge, he said. "This will come before everything else," the officer stated.
Israeli air superiority remains paramount for the ability to deal with short-range and long-range arenas, he added.
While the nuclear threat remains the largest to Israeli security, conventional offensive capabilities that are mostly in the possession of non-state organizations exist in the threat level below the nuclear issue, he said.
Shefer cited an "unprecedented" build-up in the projectile arsenals (by Hezbollah) and underground tunneling capabilities (by Hamas). The chemical weapon threat from Syria has disappeared, he said earlier in his address.
"The IDF has to be relevant, and always ready," Shefer concluded. A multi-year spending program being drawn up by IDF brass aims to realize that vision, he added.
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