We are in a growingly unstable strategic environment. The radical axis is getting stronger, and the moderate world is confused. Iran is about to become nuclear and is involved in every conflict in the Middle East. Meanwhile, we are facing different kinds of threats: from the suicide bomber to the non-conventional weapon –a symmetric and an a-symmetric threat.
Already now we can identify a few dilemmas: the first dilemma has to do with the challenges of Hezbollah and Hamas. Hezbollah keeps gaining in strength with the support of Syria in Lebanon, and the question is: how do we react to this phenomenon? Meanwhile, Hamas smuggles weapons and builds up its military strength thanks to the ceasefire. It’s not clear how we should deal with this, and how do we get ready for the next round of fighting when Hamas has an improved military capabilities. Another dilemma has to do with the right balance between investing in readiness now, and building our strength.
The Army’s Targets in the Long Term
What is the army’s security Strategy? The main transition in the security perception is the transition from three elements –deterrence, alarm, and victory— to four elements, the fourth being preparedness. This is a perception that combines not only attack as a central element, but also defense. This element is meant not only to defend the home front, but also to provide decision makers with flexibility, so that they can say that restraint is a form of strength.
The year 2007 is the year of preparedness. The goal is to reach a level of professional capacity that will enable us to face the current threats, and in parallel to build a multi-year program in order face future threats. The main goals are the strengthening of the ground forces, of the reserve system, and the creation of a situation in which the army is both ready and trained to deal with the present threats, while focusing on future targets, based on the four abovementioned elements.
Alarm: The main focus of interest is providing strategic alarms, while still maintaining our ability to provide day- to -day alert. Such as an alert against suicide terrorist and terrorist activity. This must be conducted, in addition to our constant combat against what is defined as “low intensity conflict”. This type of conflict emphasizes the need for intelligence. This need is becoming crucial facing asymmetrical conflicts. We need intelligence which will enable us to track targets in urban as well as other problematic environments. We must improve our capabilities to gather intelligence, and we need to strengthen our operative intelligence. Meaning, improving our intelligence capabilities on all levels, from the officer level until the field level.
Deterrence: We must separate two variables - Our will to use force – a will which was evident during the last war, while even Nassrala was surprise to see the Israeli determination, and on the other hand, Building a direct and credible respond against these threats. During the last war, we came to realize the importance of direct respond, we rely less and less on indirect responds, and more on direct respond against the threats we are facing. Our most important asset is our qualitative advantage, which we must maintain. In addition to our technological capabilities, which are a product of our domestic industries.
Victory: This is a central component in our national security strategy. We need to achieve victory in front of various threats, we first need to identify the threats in order to prepare in advance, and we must improve our internal process of decision making in order to evaluate the different alternatives and chose the most appropriate respond. Israel must improve its’ ability to change its’ scale of operations, shifting from a war to military operations and vise versa. We must realize that victory can only be achieved by land, and therefore we must emphasis the importance of land operations. This does not imply, we should not use our other capabilities. But we should focus on land operations. We need to develop capabilities which will enable us to respond to threats at multiplied theaters. It is extremely difficult to respond to threats at urban environment, and we must gain capabilities which will enable us to provide an appropriate respond to these threats. In addition, I argue, we will be capable to win an asymmetric warfare.
Once we will gain the ability to predict the other side’s moves. We could respond to our enemy’s actions and prevent him from achieving his goals. We must destroy our enemies’ capabilities rather than intensions. We must act here and now, while using all means, including non-combat capabilities.
Preparedness: this is compulsory to deterrence and victory. Until this point we’ve focused on active defense, but this active defense does not provide a proper respond to long range missiles. We must include defense systems, once facing long range missiles. Our minimal investment increases as the range of attacks becomes shorter. Therefore we must invest more in the civilian population resistance.
My main messages tonight, wish to emphasis our urgent need to prepare for the next war, we should not reflect past wars, we should learn from them and prepare to the ones of the future, according to our prediction for the future. In addition we have shifted our national security strategy, from a three elements strategy to a four elements strategy. Our new strategy enables us to adjust our respond to threats, and provides us with flexibility in terms of the use of force. Last, we must improve and emphasis the quality of our military, both in terms of operations and in terms of personal. We must examine every aspect of our army and constantly improve and strengthen it. We must ensure everyone who serves in the military will wish to do so in the future.