IDF EYES SYRIAN, LEBANESE, AND GAZA BORDERS
Hezbollah’s Tunnels Offer Sneak Peek at Looming Major Conflict with Israel: Lt. Gen. Kenneth Glueck (Ret.), Lt. Gen. Michael Tucker (Ret.), and Lt. Col. Geoffrey Corn, The Hill, Feb. 25, 2019 — For weeks, Israeli and Lebanese soldiers have eyed each other uneasily at close range while Israeli engineers neutralize cross-border infiltration tunnels.
Israel Reveals More about Its Military Engagement with Iran in Syria: Jamie Dettmer, VOA, Jan. 18, 2019 — Israel has been conducting military operations against Iran on Syrian soil for more than two years.
How Does Israel’s Military Compare To Iran?: David Brennan, Newsweek, June 6, 2018 – Relations between Israel and Iran are at breaking point. The multinational nuclear deal signed with Iran is on the verge of collapsing—partly thanks to Israeli lobbying against it. Iranian leaders have warned that if it fails, the country will resume its uranium enrichment program, a step Israel considers a threat to its very existence.
A Secret Military Unit Drives Israel’s Surge in Cutting Edge Tech: Mehul Srivastava, OZY, Nov. 27, 2018 — When Ofir Schlam, co-founder of Taranis, an Israeli agriculture tech startup, was growing up on a farm in Israel, he would regularly wake at 5 a.m. to search through the crop for the tiniest caterpillars, pests and rot.
Why Is The U.S Buying Israeli Missile Defense Systems – Beyond the Matrix: Israel News Talk Radio, January 31, 2019 Audio
IDF Changing of The Guard Comes as U.S. Military Leadership Unravels: Anna Aronheim, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 13, 2019
The Secret Reason Israel’s Military Is One of the Best on the Planet: Charlie Gao, The National Interest, May 1, 2018
Lt. Gen. Kenneth Glueck (Ret.) et al
The Hill, Feb. 25, 2019
For weeks, Israeli and Lebanese soldiers have eyed each other uneasily at close range while Israeli engineers neutralize cross-border infiltration tunnels. These sophisticated tunnels, clearly intended to attack civilians, embody Hezbollah’s ongoing efforts to threaten substantial harm to Israel. They are also a reminder of that border’s fragile calm, and the potential for major destruction and suffering that would befall both Israeli and Lebanese civilians in another conflict on Israel’s northern front.
Israel undoubtedly could deal Hezbollah a crippling military blow in such a conflict. Indeed, Hezbollah has no illusion of military victory. Instead, it will seek to delegitimize Israel in the court of public opinion by illegally exposing civilians to harm on both sides of the border and then exploiting widespread misunderstanding about the laws of war.
These concerns were central to the Jewish Institute for National Security of America’s (JINSA) Hybrid Warfare Task Force and its fact-finding mission to Israel earlier this year. The ensuing task force report examined the operational and legal challenges Israel would face in another northern war.
Though unknown by us or the public during our visit, the ongoing discoveries of these terror tunnels offer valuable glimpses into this looming war. For the first time since 1973, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) confronts the very real prospect of a sizable incursion. Years of fighting alongside Russian and Iranian forces in Syria have transformed Hezbollah into a formidable military force capable of launching such a raid, relying on coordinated infantry, artillery, and even armor and drones. This represents a major leap from Hezbollah’s small hit-and-run tactics in the 2006 Lebanon war.
The tunnels are integral to this new threat. Built in violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701 prohibiting Hezbollah’s rearmament in this area, they are reportedly wide enough to move heavy military equipment and large troop units. Yet even in the unlikely event Israel locates every tunnel (five have been uncovered thus far), Hezbollah will still use the terrain and towns of Southern Lebanon to complicate Israeli counterattacks and maximize civilian casualties.
Hezbollah is under no illusion such tactics will produce anything close to decisive military victory. Instead, these raids will target Israeli civilian communities where Hezbollah will seek to inflict as many casualties, take as many hostages and cause as much destruction as possible before ultimately being annihilated or withdrawing.
By inflicting significant casualties and “planting its flag” on Israeli territory, even briefly, Hezbollah will burnish its credentials as the only force capable of standing up to Israel. This also will compel Israeli leadership to respond forcefully in self-defense. When Israel responds, Hezbollah will exploit Lebanese civilians’ suffering – brought about primarily by its own illicit tactics of using these civilians to shield military assets – to delegitimize Israel’s self-defense…. [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
VOA, Jan. 18, 2019
Israel has been conducting military operations against Iran on Syrian soil for more than two years. Many missions have been shrouded in secrecy, but this week the Israelis offered rare confirmation of an airstrike on an Iranian weapons cache located near Damascus’ international airport. And Israel’s outgoing military chief, General Gadi Eisenkot, went into greater public detail about the conflict before handing off to his successor, General Aviv Kochavi, a 54-year-old former paratrooper.
With Syria’s long-running civil war winding down and Israel determined to thwart Iran from entrenching militarily near its borders, the unusual admission about the air raid last Sunday and the readiness of Eisenkot to discuss how Israel has been striking at Iran inside Syria highlights the risks of escalation, say analysts.
Eisenkot, who retired Tuesday after 40 years of service in the Israeli Defense Force, told Britain’s Sunday Times, “In January 2017 we began attacking the infrastructure the Iranians were building in Syria. The critical mass was from mid-2017. We began attacking systematically a number oftimes each week. Without making any statements. Beneath the radar.”
Both Israel and Iran, Russia’s partner in propping up the government of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, are maneuvering as they draw up their strategies to secure their national interests for dealing with post-civil war Syria. Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies, an influential research institute with Tel Aviv University, argued this week in its annual assessment that “Israel needs to prepare for the possibility that its battle to keep Iran from entrenching itself militarily in Syria may have to be expanded to Lebanon or to Iran directly.”
“Most of the fronts facing Israel are very volatile: Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. In all three, despite the existence of mutual deterrence between the sides, there is a potential for escalation toward a broad confrontation and a general war, more than one front at a time,” the institute said.
According to the institute’s report, which was released at the official residence of Israel’s prime minister, the most serious threat facing Israel would be an all-out war in the north that would include Iran, Hezbollah and Syria. “Such a confrontation would also likely spill over to the south, and Israel would additionally find itself battling terrorist organizations from the Gaza Strip,” it warned. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
Newsweek, June 6, 2018
Relations between Israel and Iran are at breaking point. The multinational nuclear deal signed with Iran is on the verge of collapsing—partly thanks to Israeli lobbying against it. Iranian leaders have warned that if it fails, the country will resume its uranium enrichment program, a step Israel considers a threat to its very existence.
Meanwhile, multiple Israeli strikes have sought to dislodge Iranian forces from Syria, where Tehran enjoys increasing influence. Israeli leaders are fighting hard to stop Iranian soldiers deploying along its northern border.
Though it would appear that neither nation wants a full-scale war, the potential for miscalculation and escalation remains. Both nations have considerable military clout, and any prolonged confrontation between them would be bloody.
By sheer force of numbers Iran is a much larger country with a far greater population than Israel, but numbers alone do not dictate military capability—combat technology and experience are vital factors too. Technological capability is even more important in an era where technology is changing the way war is waged, allowing nations to hit each other harder, from further away and with less human involvement.
A small nation with a population of just 8.5 million, Israel’s military punches significantly above its weight. Formed amid a war with seven Arab neighbors, the country’s short history is punctuated with conflicts fought for its survival. This tough history combines with a burgeoning technology sphere and close relations with powerful western nations to create one of the world’s most formidable fighting forces.
According to Global Firepower, Israel has approximately 170,000 active personnel with a further 445,000 in reserve. Conscription exists for all non-Arab citizens of Israel over the age of 18, giving the country a large and well-trained pool of fighters to call up in the event of war.
Though less sophisticated than Israel, the Iranian military is a force to be reckoned with. Its large population—around 82 million—enables Tehran to maintain a standing force of around 534,000 soldiers, with a further 400,000 in reserve, making it the largest force in the Middle East.
In a drawn-out engagement, national manpower becomes an important issue. Iranian available manpower is around 47 million compared with just 3 million for Israel. Of course, how important this is will depend on the nature of any war being fought.
In 2017, Israel spent $16.5 billion on its armed forces, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Iran was not far behind on $14.5 billion. Though this does not seem like a big gap, the fact that Israel is spending billions more than Iran on a smaller military indicates the gulf in the quality of equipment used.
“The militaries of Israel and Iran are very different,” said Richard Baffa, a senior researcher at RAND Corporation. “In the conventional arena, Israel has the far superior military.” Israeli military might is underscored by its “top notch military-industrial complex,” he continued, “capable of producing high end, high-tech weapons.”
By contrast, Iran’s conventional forces are “ageing and sub-par, due in part to long-standing sanctions and arms embargoes.” … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
OZY, Nov. 27, 2018
When Ofir Schlam, co-founder of Taranis, an Israeli agriculture tech startup, was growing up on a farm in Israel, he would regularly wake at 5 a.m. to search through the crop for the tiniest caterpillars, pests and rot. Years later, when he joined the military and was attached to the prime minister’s office, he adapted that skill set to analyze thousands of surveillance images, looking for the smallest anomaly.
One of Schlam’s key senior executives at Taranis, AmihayGornik, developed his expertise working at large aerospace companies, designing imaging parts for military drones. Gornik figured out a way to make a fast-moving camera think it was standing still by nestling it inside a proprietary pod he had fitted with a gyroscope, which helped cancel out vibrations and resulted in less blur.
At Taranis they insert the pods onto Cessna aircraft, fly them up to about 100 feet and then zoom over tens of thousands of acres of farmland at 120 miles per hour, taking photographs with an off-the-shelf camera. Even at that speed, their software can spot the tiniest pests or signs of disease, and the planes can map thousands of acres in the time it takes for drones to travel just a few. More scale, more caterpillars caught.
The element that makes Taranis possible, says Schlam, is the melding of their uniquely Israeli experiences and the way they have applied them to business. “It’s a small place,” he says. “And yet, it’s not that hard to find someone who’s into farming, into tech and has done this kind of thing before — maybe in the army, maybe at another startup.”
It is those experiences that have helped such a tiny country become a leader in one of the most promising frontiers in the technology world: computer vision. Despite the unwieldy name, it is an area that has come of age in the past few years, covering applications across dozens of industries that have one thing in common: the need for computers to figure out what their cameras are seeing, and for those computers to tell them what to do next.
The biggest success story is Mobileye, which uses a dozen cheap cameras to see the traffic around prototype autonomous cars and then guides them through traffic. In 2017, Intel paid $15.3 billion to acquire the technology, as carmakers plunge billions of dollars into building self-driving cars.
Computer vision has become the connecting thread between some of Israel’s most valuable and promising tech companies. And unlike Israel’s traditional strengths — cybersecurity and mapping — computer vision slides into a broad range of different civilian industries, spawning companies in agriculture, medicine, sports, self-driving cars, the diamond industry and even shopping.
In Israel, this lucrative field has benefited from a large pool of engineers and entrepreneurs trained for that very task in an elite, little-known group in the military — Unit 9900 — where they fine-tune computer algorithms to digest millions of surveillance photos and sift out actionable intelligence … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
On Topic Links
Israel’s Next Northern War: Operational and Legal Challenges: JINSA’s Gemunder Center Hybrid Warfare Task Force, Oct. 28, 2018 — Israel may not be interested in war, but war is now almost certainly interested in it. As Bashar al-Assad brutally regains control over Syria, his Hezbollah shock troops and their Iranian overlords will turn their attention and arsenals to Israel. Any friction – a routine border patrol gone awry, drones penetrating Israeli airspace, Israeli airstrikes in Syria – could spark uncontrolled escalation and a catastrophic conflagration.
Why Is The U.S Buying Israeli Missile Defense Systems – Beyond the Matrix: Israel News Talk Radio, January 31, 2019 Audio — Rod Reuven Dovid Bryant and Jerry Gordon interview Dr. Stephen Bryen, former Reagan era Defense Official, premier military technology expert and columnist for the Asia Times.
IDF Changing of The Guard Comes as U.S. Military Leadership Unravels: Anna Aronheim, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 13, 2019 –– On Tuesday, Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi will enter the 14th floor of the Kiryain Tel Aviv to take over as the IDF top officer from Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, who will be exiting the building for the last time.
The Secret Reason Israel’s Military Is One of the Best on the Planet: Charlie Gao, The National Interest, May 1, 2018 — The Israel Defense Forces field a wide variety of American military equipment, due to significant amounts of American military aid to Israel.