How Israel Might Destroy Iran’s Nuclear Program: Daniel Pipes, National Review, July 16, 2015 — The Vienna deal has been signed and likely will soon be ratified, which raises the question: Will any government intervene militarily to stop the nearly inevitable Iranian nuclear buildup?
Is IDF Gearing Up to Fight the Islamic State?: Ben Caspit, Al-Monitor, July 8, 2015 — Barely five months into his new job, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot has already made two significant strategic decisions.
IDF Would Seek Destruction of Hamas Military Wing if Future Conflict Erupts: Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post, June 7, 2015 — The IDF has drawn up a new combat doctrine to deal with Hamas, based on the destruction of its military wing, a senior military source said Tuesday, speaking one year after Operation Protective Edge.
Indefensible Defense: Mark Helprin, National Review, June 11, 2015— Continual warfare in the Middle East, a nuclear Iran, electromagnetic-pulse weapons, emerging pathogens, and terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction variously threaten the United States, some with catastrophe on a scale we have not experienced since the Civil War.
What Israel Can Do Now: Dr. Max Singer, BESA, July 19, 2015
Preemptive Strike on Iran Legally Dicier Once UN Lifts Sanctions: Yonah Jeremy Bob, Jerusalem Post, July 15, 2015
An Israeli Raid on Iran, with American Weapons: Ehud Eilam, Israel Defense, July 12, 2015
U.K. Lifts Export Bans on Arms to Israel: Israel Defense, July 20, 2015
National Review, July 16, 2015
The Vienna deal has been signed and likely will soon be ratified, which raises the question: Will any government intervene militarily to stop the nearly inevitable Iranian nuclear buildup? Obviously it will not be the American or Russian governments or any of the other four signatories. Practically speaking, the question comes down to Israel, where a consensus holds that the Vienna deal makes an Israeli attack more likely. But no one outside the Israeli security apparatus, including myself, knows its intentions. That ignorance leaves me free to speculate as follows.
Three scenarios of attack seem possible: Airplanes. Airplanes crossed international boundaries and dropped bombs in the 1981 Israeli attack on an Iraqi nuclear installation and in the 2007 attack on a Syrian one, making this the default assumption for Iran. Studies show this to be difficult but attainable.
Special ops. These are already underway: computer-virus attacks on Iranian systems unconnected to the Internet that should be immune, assassinations of top-ranking Iranian nuclear scientists, and explosions at nuclear installations. Presumably, Israelis had a hand in at least some of these attacks and, presumably, they could increase their size and scope, possibly disrupting the entire nuclear program. Unlike the dispatch of planes across several countries, special operations have the advantage of reaching places like Fordow, far from Israel, and of leaving little or no signature.
Nuclear weapons. This doomsday weapon, which tends to be little discussed, would probably be launched from submarines. It hugely raises the stakes and so would only be resorted to, in the spirit of “Never Again,” if the Israelis were desperate. Of these alternatives, I predict the Netanyahu government will most likely opt for the second, which is also the most challenging to pull off (especially now that the great powers promised to help the Iranians protect their nuclear infrastructure). Were this unsuccessful, it will turn to planes, with nuclear weapons as a last resort.
Al-Monitor, July 8, 2015
Barely five months into his new job, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot has already made two significant strategic decisions. The first, announced June 15 and discussed in Al-Monitor, involved the establishment of a “cyber branch.” The second, announced July 6, concerns the establishment of a commando brigade to be headed by a colonel. This latter decision is said to be designed to bring the IDF up to speed with the modern battlefield — which no longer consists of clashes between two large armored forces, but a struggle between asymmetrical forces — with an emphasis on anti-terror warfare in densely populated areas.
The IDF has evolved as an unplanned military, formed on the go, with units established to address ad hoc needs. Its first commando units — the venerated Unit 101, founded by the late Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and the 890th battalion of paratroopers — were set up in the 1950s. They were designed to address infiltration from Egypt, Jordan and Syria by Palestinian fedayeen and their attempts to commit acts of terror. This impromptu approach remained the norm for years. During that time, the IDF never created a commando unit the size of a brigade.
The IDF’s special units are dispersed among the various corps and military branches. The most famous elite reconnaissance unit, Sayeret Matkal, operates under Military Intelligence. The elite commando unit Shayetet 13 falls under the navy’s purview. Each infantry brigade has its own reconnaissance unit, which is also considered to be a special commando unit. There are also other commando units in the various corps.
With the passage of time, the number of special warfare and commando units has grown. For example, after the 1973 Yom Kippur War, during which the IDF sustained heavy tank losses from anti-tank missiles fired by Egyptian infantry, the Magellan and Moran reconnaissance units were formed with the purpose of hunting down missiles behind enemy lines. Such units expanded over the years.
The new brigade will consolidate under one large commando branch a number of the existing commando units: the Duvdevan, the IDF’s undercover unit; the Golani Brigade’s Egoz recon unit; the Magellan unit, specialized in destroying targets deep behind enemy lines and providing intelligence; and the Rimon unit, a commando outfit specialized in desert warfare. The remaining IDF commando units — Sayeret Matkal, Shayetet 13, etc. — will remain independent.
One assessment in the IDF is that the consolidated commando brigade is the military’s response to the Islamic State (IS). One of the brigade’s immediate tasks will be to draw up a new warfare doctrine against entities similar to IS. These are essentially scattered forces specializing in terrorist warfare in populated areas. They blend in well on the ground and have a relatively low profile, namely, staying off the radar.
“The biggest advantage of an organization like IS,” said a seasoned Israeli infantry officer speaking on condition of anonymity, “is the fact that it is very difficult to strike it. It has no big strategic objectives or vulnerable infrastructures. It is always on the move. It can camouflage itself and disappear. You end up fighting a ghost army that is hard to deter, hard to track down and hard to strike at.”
“The IDF’s special [commando] units,” said a senior officer who once commanded such a unit and also requested anonymity, “are used to operating in small, surreptitious settings. The IDF uses them for special raids, pinpoint strikes, certain missions behind enemy lines or such that require special skills. This situation changes the more the arena around us changes. Throughout its existence, Israel prepared for large-scale confrontations against regular armored forces. The biggest threat has always been armored corps stampeding toward Israel from Syria or Egypt. This is no longer the case, which is why our armored divisions are also less relevant. The IDF needs to adapt itself to the modern battlefield and place emphasis on infantry, commando, swift and light, and if possible also furtive maneuverability. It needs to be able to track down and collect intelligence on targets and accurately strike at a dispersed, camouflaged and somewhat amorphous enemy.”
Other IDF sources, however, deny that the new commando brigade constitutes a response to IS. “This is a move that’s part of a multiyear plan,” said a senior IDF officer, speaking to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. “We don’t adjust our multiyear plans to these or those terrorist organizations but to phenomena. We mustn’t forget that prior to IS, we had al-Qaeda. We see the jihadist organizations in Syria, such as Jabhat al-Nusra and many others. Israel doesn’t consider IS to be a significant threat. Reality has taught us that whenever IS encounters a trained, skilled, organized and resolute military force, it has been defeated. We do adapt ourselves to developments in the arena, and we’ll continue to do so.”
Another senior official, who recently served as a commander in an IDF infantry arena, described as “nonsense” the assessment that the new commando brigade is a response to IS. He told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, “IS is mainly a PR threat. If IS gets near the border, it will be stopped by IDF air force and tanks. There’s no need to have the commando forces engage them. Every standard, trained Golani [Brigade] soldier is better trained, more competent and more efficient than an average IS fighter. This new commando brigade was set up to concentrate efforts, improve power buildup, establish a new warfare doctrine and bring all the means under one roof. To date, the commando units were dispersed between the battalions and brigades. Now we’re talking about one organized punch with a combat concept, training, recruitment, etc.”
Asked what would be required of such a force in the future, if and when needed, the senior IDF official cited the Gaza Strip as a case in point. In the next confrontation against Hamas, should such an event occur, if there’s a need for a pinpoint, sophisticated commando operation deep inside Gaza, there will be a specific address to go to and have it carry out the operation, instead of starting arguments and trying to pool IDF resources and troops, he said.
Meanwhile, Israel has begun to disseminate information to the effect that Hamas in Gaza and IS in the Sinai Peninsula are collaborating. It began with a statement to Al Jazeera by Maj. Gen. Yoav “Poli” Mordechai, coordinator of government activities in the territories, following a July 1 terrorist attack in Sinai. It was followed July 7 with statements by IDF intelligence officials to the effect that the attack in Sinai had been carried out by IS at Hamas’ request in a bid to “create a smuggling route (from Sinai to Gaza) for raw materials for building rockets.” In exchange for this “piecemeal work,” IDF sources told Israeli media, “Hamas is helping IS with infrastructure and training.” According to the sources, IS launched an attack on 15 objectives between the Egyptian towns of el-Arish and Rafah, along the Sinai beach route leading to the Gaza Strip.
Also on July 7, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon told his Italian counterpart, Roberta Pinott, that Hamas and IS were collaborating in Sinai. “On the one hand,” Ya’alon said, “Hamas is fighting against a branch of IS in Gaza, but on the other hand, it is cooperating with IS in Sinai to harm Egypt.”
Jerusalem Post, July 7, 2015
The IDF has drawn up a new combat doctrine to deal with Hamas, based on the destruction of its military wing, a senior military source said Tuesday, speaking one year after Operation Protective Edge. The new doctrine is the fruit of internal investigations into last summer’s fighting. The probes centered on issues such as training, intelligence, underground combat capabilities, urban warfare, and the overall use of firepower. The IDF concluded that a central objective would be to shorten the length of any future engagement with Hamas.
The new concept, created together with the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), calls for eliminating the Izzadin Kassam Brigades military wing if war erupts again in the South. “We have new components and an approach, which was shown to the chief of staff and received his approval,” the senior IDF source said. “There will always be a need for adjustments to fit [future] circumstances,” the source said. “But we have a concept, and we have plans.”
The IDF has also redrawn its plans to defend Gaza border communities, based on the understanding that Hamas plans to launch raids on these areas in any future clash. “You don’t win with defense,” the source said, “but a good defense will deny Hamas tactical gains that would allow it to claim a propaganda victory.”
A third important aspect of the IDF’s new approach to a future Gaza conflict is its focus on Hamas’s tunnel network. Tunnels, the source said, have become Hamas’s most valuable asset. The network exists to serve its offensive forces, smuggle goods and armaments, and facilitate command and control networks. The IDF has installed two tunnel detection systems in areas bordering Gaza, and these are to become fully operational in the coming weeks, the source said. The systems will be able to alert the military whenever it detects digging under Israeli territory.
So far, the IDF has not detected any new cross-border tunnels since the cessation of hostilities last August. While the terrorist group is digging tunnels in Gaza, it has not yet rebuilt any of the 32 attack tunnels destroyed by the IDF last summer. The army has also created two tunnel-warfare training sites to improve the ability of ground forces to confront this threat. In a future conflict, the IDF plans to keep critical unit headquarters away from the Gaza border, out of the range of Hamas mortar attacks.
Operation Protective Edge was the largest armed conflict between Israel and the Palestinians so far. To prevent the outbreak of a new round of fighting any time soon, there is a need to improve Gaza’s civilian economic situation and hasten reconstruction efforts, the source said. This would provide civilians with hope and raise their standard of living. This is a particularly difficult task in light of the fact that Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority have all disconnected themselves from Gaza, leaving the Hamas-run enclave – where there is a 50-percent unemployment rate – in a state of near total isolation.
Hamas – regarded by Egypt as an enemy allied with its domestic Islamist foes – is anxiously looking for sponsors, and its military wing has begun receiving tens of millions of dollars from Iran once again. The organization also receives cash from a global network of charities and businesses, as well as from Qatar, its chief foreign sponsor. Reaching a long-term ceasefire arrangement with Hamas is likely to encourage the Islamist regime and its armed wing to remain restrained, according to the source. Currently, Hamas is taking more steps than ever before to prevent other Gazan terrorist groups from firing rockets at Israel, and it has arrested many Salafi jihadists following recent rocket launches into Israel, according to military intelligence assessments.
At the same time, the group continues to restock its own rocket supplies, and is actively seeking to improve the accuracy of its projectiles. A total of eight rockets have been fired into Israel from Gaza since the end of hostilities last summer, representing the quietest period in the South since the Palestinian rocket attacks on the South in 2000. There is recognition among the IDF leadership of the possibility for “years of quiet” if the situation can be managed.
Tensions persist between Hamas’s military and political wings, the source added, and the military wing could begin to take more independent steps, military assessments have stated. Renewing contact with Iran was cited as one example of an independent move already made by the military wing, which did not receive the backing of the group’s political division.
National Review, June 11, 2015
Continual warfare in the Middle East, a nuclear Iran, electromagnetic-pulse weapons, emerging pathogens, and terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction variously threaten the United States, some with catastrophe on a scale we have not experienced since the Civil War. Nevertheless, these are phenomena that bloom and fade, and that, with redirection and augmentation of resources we possess, we are equipped to face, given the wit and will to do so.
But underlying the surface chaos that dominates the news cycle are the currents that lead to world war. In governance by tweet, these are insufficiently addressed for being insufficiently immediate. And yet, more than anything else, how we approach the strength of the American military, the nuclear calculus, China, and Russia will determine the security, prosperity, honor, and at long range even the sovereignty and existence of this country.
Upon our will to provide for defense, all else rests. Without it, even the most brilliant innovations and trenchant strategies will not suffice. In one form or another, the American way of war and of the deterrence of war has always been reliance on surplus. Even as we barely survived the winter of Valley Forge, we enjoyed immense and forgiving strategic depth, the 3,000-mile barrier of the Atlantic, and the great forests that would later give birth to the Navy. In the Civil War, the North’s burgeoning industrial and demographic powers meshed with the infancy of America’s technological ascendance to presage superiority in mass industrial — and then scientific — 20th-century warfare. The way we fight is that we do not stint. Subtract the monumental preparations, cripple the defense industrial base, and we will fail to deter wars that we will then go on to lose.
Properly subservient, the military implements the postulate of current civil authority that we cannot afford the defense we need. This view, however, a commonplace of public opinion, is demonstrably false, and insensible of a number of things, not least the golden relation of economic growth and military power. The way we fight is that we do not stint. Subtract the monumental preparations, cripple the defense industrial base, and we will fail to deter wars that we will then go on to lose.
China, Japan as early as the Meiji, and Israel have consciously employed this golden relation to their advantage. In sum, rapid and sustained economic growth increases the marginal income of families and individuals beyond what is needed to survive, so that what under less favorable conditions would be a disproportionately high share of gross domestic product can be diverted to military purposes without threatening social cohesion and political stability. In just a few decades, the Meiji went from silks and swords to their modern battle fleet’s victory over Russia. Israel enjoyed the world’s fastest economic growth prior to the Six-Day War of 1967, the results of which are well known. And in only 30 years, China has become a military superpower.
The way this works can best be understood in the Chinese example, which is now most pertinent. In 1988, China’s per capita GDP was $256, and its purchasing-power parity (PPP) military expenditure $5.78 billion. After average annual economic growth of 8.95 percent from 1988 to 2007, its per capita GDP was $2,539, nearly a tenfold rise, conducive to political stability, and its PPP military expenditure $122 billion, a 21-fold increase. This is the cardinal explanation of China’s rapidly advancing power.
Given a short-term assessment of our economy, we might find it intimidating, but it should not be. For whatever the cycles of its economy, the United States has long possessed and continues to possess the most potent combination the world has ever known of major population, massive GDP, and high marginal income. We have chosen to depart from customary and easily sustainable levels of defense spending not out of economic duress but only as a result of the ideological proclivities of most Democrats and growing factions within the Republican coalition. What, then, has been the norm, and why, contrary to the common wisdom, is it sustainable now?
From 1940 through 2000 — through wars, recessions, panics, and expansions — average annual American defense expenditure, as a proportion of GDP, was 8.5 percent — 13.3 percent in war and mobilization years, 9.4 percent under Democratic administrations, 7.3 percent under Republican, and, in the peacetime years, 5.7 percent. By contrast, the defense base-budget appropriation (excluding overseas-contingency funding) for 2015 is 2.994252873 percent (just less, as if someone somewhere had set a limit, than 3 percent) of GDP. That is, roughly half the traditional outlays during peacetime. The resultant starvation leads not only to diminished immediate resources but to the slow erosion of the defense industrial base, which is so complex and would take so long to rebuild that, if it were lost, it could be lost forever.
Military expenditure need not wait on exceptionally high growth. Nor will it break the fisc. In 1931–40, average GDP was $77.5 billion, and average unemployment 19 percent. By 1944, GDP had risen 271 percent to $219 billion; unemployment was down to 1.2 percent, and real disposable income had doubled — despite the fact that by 1945 military expenditure was 40 percent of GDP and 86 ++percent of the federal budget. The material resources of the average family were a fraction of what they are now, and therefore the amount of national wealth devoted to public purposes was that much more a burden. No one is advocating 40 percent of GDP for defense, but certainly, as the world comes apart, we can do better than half of the long-established peacetime appropriations…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
How Israel Might Destroy Iran’s Nuclear Program: Daniel Pipes, National Review, July 16, 2015 —The Vienna deal has been signed and likely will soon be ratified, which raises the question: Will any government intervene militarily to stop the nearly inevitable Iranian nuclear buildup?
What Israel Can Do Now: Dr. Max Singer, BESA, July 19, 2015—For years, the Obama administration has assured Prime Minister Netanyahu that Israel does not have to attack Iranian nuclear weapon production facilities because the US would make sure that Iran would not get nuclear weapons.
Preemptive Strike on Iran Legally Dicier Once UN Lifts Sanctions: Yonah Jeremy Bob, Jerusalem Post, July 15, 2015 —Israel probably has until around mid-December to preemptively strike Iran’s nuclear program before it gets even harder to justify legally than Tuesday’s deal has already made it.
An Israeli Raid on Iran, with American Weapons: Ehud Eilam, Israel Defense, July 12, 2015—Iran and major powers gave themselves until Monday to reach a nuclear agreement, their third extension in two weeks.
U.K. Lifts Export Bans on Arms to Israel: Israel Defense, July 20, 2015—The United Kingdom has lifted all remaining restrictions on arms sales to Israel, according to The Independent. Over the past year, the U.K. government conducted a review of 12 export licenses for weapons that may have been used in last year’s Operation Protective Edge.