For Deterrence and the Second Nuclear Strike: Yossi Melman, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 13, 2016 — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, obsessed with his Holocaust fears and motivated by his political agenda, could not resist Tuesday hinting what has been so clear to the rest of the world for two decades…
Israel Developing ‘Underground’ Iron Dome: John Reed, FT, Feb. 3, 2016— The Iron Dome missile defence system is widely credited with helping protect Israel from aerial missile attack.
'Israel's Space Program Lagging Behind, as Iran's Surges Forward': Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 2, 2016— Inadequate investment and research in Israel’s civilian space program will have a harmful knock-on impact on military space industries, experts warned during a conference in Herzliya on Tuesday.
Peacekeeping is Fine, but Peace-Building is Essential — and it Works: Michael Den Tandt, National Post, Feb. 2, 2016 — Are Canadian soldiers, following a decade of militaristic tub-thumping by the former Conservative government, inordinately prepared for war, at the expense of peacekeeping and diplomacy?
The U.S. Has No Global Strategy: Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., Wall Street Journal, Jan. 29, 2016— Many Americans probably had misgivings when U.S. troops were withdrawn from Iraq in 2011, but even the most pessimistic must be surprised at how quickly things went south.
The IDF’s Misplaced Trust in the PA: Caroline Glick, Breaking Israel News, Feb. 3, 2016
If the US Can Decrypt Vital Israeli Transmissions, Who Else Can?: Judah Ari Gross, Times of Israel, Jan. 29, 2016
IDF Moves Steel Formation as Part of Multi-Arena Force: Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 28, 2016
Dr. Eitan Shamir’s New Book on Military Command: BESA, Jan. 10, 2016
Jerusalem Post, Jan. 13, 2016
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, obsessed with his Holocaust fears and motivated by his political agenda, could not resist Tuesday hinting what has been so clear to the rest of the world for two decades – the fact that the Israeli submarine fleet was mainly established for the purpose of deterrence and, according to foreign reports, to grant Israel the capability of a second nuclear strike.
On Tuesday, the Israel Navy’s fifth submarine anchored at Haifa Port after a 3,000 kilometer voyage from the German shipyards in Kiel where it was built. “Above all, our submarines serve to deter enemies that aspire to destroy us,” Netanyahu stated at the ceremony. The decision to build a significant submarine fleet was a result of strategic thinking and advantage of the circumstances.
In the 80s, Israel feared, as it does today, that the Middle East was going nuclear with Iraq’s efforts to build a nuclear bomb. At the same time, Israel was attacked by Iraqi Scud missiles during the first Gulf War in 1991. It turned out that German companies had supplied Iraq’s dictator, Saddam Hussein, with technology and materials for a suspected chemical weapons program. To cleanse its conscience, Germany agreed to finance the manufacturing of the first new Israeli submarines. According to foreign reports, this led to further German consent to subsidize more submarines for Israel as long as they were built in the Kiel shipyards, thus also helping the German economy. Thus, fat Germany financed half the cost of the Israeli submarine fleet.
According to foreign reports, Israel has upgraded the submarines to conform to its own unique needs, turning them into platforms to launch nuclear-tipped missiles. Navy experts, led by the late admiral Avraham Botzer, estimated that it would require at least nine subs to make the Israeli navy strategically effective. They argue that at any given moment three subs will be on routine missions, three at docks for maintenance and three always available to carry out strategic assignments.
Indeed, until recently, the Israel Navy was on its way to accomplish its strategic vision and mission as Germany agreed to subsidize the manufacturing of the sixth sub, according to foreign reports. But then a new reality emerged. IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, under budgetary pressure, decided to postpone the purchase of the sixth sub – a decision that was only natural since it coincided with recent developments regarding Iran since the naval build up was primarily aimed to be a deterrence against Iranian efforts to achieve nuclear capabilities.
Once Iran’s aspirations were suppressed by the nuclear agreement reached last summer with the world powers, Israel had more leeway and breathing space, so it was decided that the purchase of sixth sub would be delayed to take place by 2020. In the meantime, the submarine fleet will continue to perform its other capabilities in long-range intelligence and clandestine missions in the Mediterranean, and according to foreign reports, in the Red Sea and even the Indian Ocean leading to the Persian Gulf.
FT, Feb. 3, 2016
The Iron Dome missile defence system is widely credited with helping protect Israel from aerial missile attack. Now the country’s military establishment and defence companies are developing technology to shield them on a new front: underground. The country’s ministry of defence this week confirmed that the US had earmarked $120m over three years to help it develop and produce a system to detect tunnels built by its enemies.
Israelis are describing the system as an underground equivalent of Iron Dome, the US-funded missile defence system that allowed Israel to destroy many of the rockets and mortars fired at it by Hamas and other militant groups from the Gaza Strip during Israeli military operations there in 2012 and 2014. In addition to uncovering the concrete-reinforced tunnels Hamas burrows in the sandy earth along Israel’s 60km-long border with Gaza, Israeli military planners say they need the system to detect tunnels built by the south Lebanon-based guerrilla group Hizbollah in the north. The US wants the technology to find tunnels used by criminal gangs to smuggle illegal immigrants or drugs across the Mexican border.
The Israeli companies Elbit Systems and Rafael Advanced Defence Systems — which developed Iron Dome — are among those developing the technology, both companies confirmed. However, they declined to discuss the project because of its sensitivity. Between 50 and 100 smaller companies are also involved in developing the technology needed to find tunnels, according to an Israeli engineer briefed on the details.
“We do whatever we can to find a technological solution,” Maj Gen Nitsan Alon, head of the Israel Defense Forces’ operations directorate, said at a briefing on Wednesday. He declined to give details of the technologies being tested, saying it would “help Hamas”.
News of the US-Israeli co-operation on anti-tunnel technology comes amid signs that Hamas is rebuilding its underground network, which Israel’s military targeted during Operation Protective Edge, its 2014 war against the militant group in Gaza. The Qassam Brigades, the Islamist group’s military wing, said two of its members were killed on Tuesday while working in a tunnel in the al-Nuseirat area of the central Gaza Strip. Last week, seven Hamas members were killed when a tunnel they were working on in eastern Gaza collapsed.
The IDF says it found and destroyed 32 tunnels during the 2014 war, and accused the militant group of using the tunnels to ambush soldiers, fire rockets or mortars, and carry out operations inside Israel. The war killed more than 2,100 Palestinians, 66 Israeli soldiers, and six civilians in Israel. The discovery of tunnels during the first days of the war brought angry accusations by Israelis against Benjamin Netanyahu, the rightwing prime minister, of having underestimated or missed the threat. In recent days, the government has been embarrassed again by reports from residents of southern border communities who said they heard sounds of underground digging.
On Monday, Mr Netanyahu said Israel was “working systematically and level-headedly against all threats”, including from Hamas. “If we are attacked from tunnels from the Gaza Strip, we will take very strong action against Hamas, much stronger than we took in Operation Protective Edge,” he said. However, Major General Alon said he thought Hamas “is not ready for another fight against Israel”. Notwithstanding the country’s technological prowess in many areas, finding the Hamas-built tunnel systems burrowed between 15 and 50 metres underground is proving elusive. Israel has been working on technology needed to detect tunnels for at least two decades.
While details of the systems now being tested along the Gaza border are not public, analysts said they would likely gather information from sensors planted in the ground, then use algorithms to interpret the data. They said detecting tunnels while they were being built — when vibrations and sounds might be detected — was less difficult than finding tunnels that had already been built. “The biggest problem is detecting a tunnel when it is already ready, and it is just a hole in the ground,” said Yiftah Shapir, an analyst at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies. Mr Shapir said such tunnels might be detected using geophones, sensors used in the oil industry — along with controlled explosions — to detect geological features.
Jerusalem Post, Feb. 2, 2016
Inadequate investment and research in Israel’s civilian space program will have a harmful knock-on impact on military space industries, experts warned during a conference in Herzliya on Tuesday. Speaking at the 11th Ilan Ramon International Space Conference, held by the Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies, Brig.- Gen. (res.) Abraham Assael, CEO of the institute, also described how the lifting of sanctions on Iran will speed up Tehran’s space program and missile development.
“After over a decade in which the Fisher Institute watched and examined the Israeli space industry, we can today say that without an innovative and dynamic civilian space industry, and without significant investment in research and development on the national and academic, as well as industrial levels, there is no future for sustainable space industry in the State of Israel,” said Assael, a former air force base and squadron commander.
Driven by need, Israel has in the past led space technology advances, particularly in the areas of small satellites and their launchers, he noted. “Today, we are moving forward in very measured steps while other space industries, like the Iranian space industry, are developing at a spedup rate,” Assael said. “The lifting of sanctions following the Iran nuclear agreement will cause its space program development to speed up. This will act as a legitimate engine driving Iranian technology in a range of fields and serving as a fertile ground for the development of matching military capabilities like the research and development of long-range missiles,” he cautioned.
Ofer Doron, head of Israel Aerospace Industries’ MBT Space Division, issued his own stark warning, saying Israel’s civilian satellite program is shrouded in uncertainty. “Israel has no space policy, and we are moving backwards,” Doron told the conference. He warned of inadequate educational and academic research to support Israel’s space agency, which could harm future technology and satellite development. “In most of these areas, there is no significant activity occurring in the State of Israel, and I can only be jealous of foreign space agencies around the world. A multi-year budget is required with a significant scope.
We need mechanisms that allow us to take advantage of the budget,” Doron said. “Even the low budget of the Israel Space Agency cannot be implemented. We need to leverage the great achievements of military space programs toward civilian applications so that budgets can have double uses. Without civilian licenses, which are the norm in the world, this simply will not work.”
The Israel Space Agency’s current annual budget stands at $15 million, matching the size of the Mexican, Swiss and South African programs. “If we make it five times bigger, we will be like Pakistan. We are behind Iran, Spain and Argentina and significantly behind European space agencies,” Doron said.
Michael Den Tandt
National Post, Feb. 2, 2016
Are Canadian soldiers, following a decade of militaristic tub-thumping by the former Conservative government, inordinately prepared for war, at the expense of peacekeeping and diplomacy? Judging from a new study done for a pair of left-leaning Ottawa think tanks, the Rideau Institute and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, you might assume so. The paper, by Royal Military College professor and peacekeeping specialist Walter Dorn, bears the stamp of academic authority. It is also, in one of its central thrusts, wrong.
Here’s the paragraph that leaps out: “The 2006–11 combat mission in Kandahar, Afghanistan, certainly gave CAF personnel valuable experience in combat and counter-insurgency (COIN) operations. While there are similarities between these types of missions and international peace operations, there are also fundamental differences in the training, preparation and practice of peacekeeping deployments. “War-fighting and COIN are enemy-centric, usually non-consensual missions that primarily involve offensive tactics, whereas peacekeeping is based on a trinity of alternative principles: consent of main conflicting parties, impartiality and the defensive use of force.”
In other words, the Afghan mission was all about destroying the enemy — killing the “detestable murderers and scumbags” of the Taliban, as former chief of defence staff Rick Hillier once put it, rather than trying to help the Afghans rebuild their war-torn, barren, desperately impoverished country. It’s yet another restatement of the Liberal narrative that emerged suddenly and fully-formed in the spring of 2006, coinciding miraculously with the accession of Stephen Harper’s Conservatives to power.
Liberal Jean Chretien had first sent Canadian soldiers to Afghanistan in 2002; Liberal Paul Martin had sent them in greater numbers beginning in 2005 and continuing in early 2006. That mission was framed from its inception as a combination of humanitarian aid, diplomacy and force protection, along with so-called “kinetic operations,” the purpose of which was to destroy the enemy.
None of this changed when the new government took over. Indeed, when I went to Afghanistan in the fall of 2007 — my second trip to the country — I found the Canadian military even more focused on reconstruction than it had been the previous year. We visited de-mining and police training projects near Kabul and a Provincial Reconstruction Team outpost in Kandahar City, Camp Nathan Smith,that had grown substantially since my first trip. Canadian soldiers stationed at the PRT supported local schools and engineering projects, operated “presence patrols” into the surrounding countryside, arranged meetings and held teas with local elders.
All the Canadian military engagement I saw in Afghanistan was primarily defensive in nature. In other words, the soldiers and their armaments were there to protect and support Canadian whole-of-government efforts to help local people. There were certainly also pure combat operations, run by special forces and other units, that I didn’t see. But there was a great deal of diplomacy and “peace-building.” It just didn’t draw a lot of attention back home.
Indeed, by 2007, the CF seemed almost desperate to draw attention to their reconstruction efforts. Presumably, this had something to do with the fact that, back in Ottawa, the political debate was all about combat casualties and detainee torture. I had numerous conversations with front-line soldiers in those years who were deeply frustrated by the tenor of debate in Canada which they deemed, to a person, to be shallow and misleading. They weren’t wrong. Canadian soldiers — sergeants primarily, not the officers, who were more circumspect — also told me numerous times how deeply relieved they were that the horribly failed “peacekeeping” era of the 1990s — Bosnia, Rwanda, Somalia — was a thing of the past.
In 2010, I travelled with Canada’s Disaster Assistance Response Team to Haiti in the aftermath of the Jan. 12 earthquake that destroyed much of the island’s infrastructure and killed several hundred thousand people. The D.A.R.T. was drawn from units across Canada, and many of its members had by then served in Afghanistan. Somehow, the demands of doing humanitarian relief in a chaotic and diplomatically fraught environment were not beyond them. Indeed they seemed to me to be exceptionally good at their jobs.
Would Canada’s military benefit from a re-start of some of the peacekeeping courses that fell by the wayside during the Harper years? Probably they would. Additional training, for whatever function, is worthwhile — and it was quite clear, in the aftermath of the Somalia debacle in 1993, that the Airborne Regiment’s spec-ops combat training had not prepared it adequately for the humanitarian complexities of that mission.
But let’s not forget why we have armed forces to begin with. Following 9/11 and especially because of the Afghan war, the Canadian military was transformed from a chronically bureaucratized, under-gunned, under-resourced organization into a force capable of fighting a so-called three-block war – defence, diplomacy and development in the space of three city blocks, within a failed state. That transformation was hard-won and long overdue. It should not be set aside now simply because we have a new government intent on playing up its swords-into-ploughshares credentials.
Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.
Wall Street Journal, Jan. 29, 2016
Many Americans probably had misgivings when U.S. troops were withdrawn from Iraq in 2011, but even the most pessimistic must be surprised at how quickly things went south. Turn on the TV news: Western Iraq, including the Sunni triangle that the U.S. once worked so hard to pacify, is in the hands of a terrorist group, Islamic State, radiating attacks as far as Paris, Jakarta and San Bernardino, Calif.
The battlefield where the U.S. spent most of its blood has become swept up into the chaos of next-door Syria. Refugees from the region are destabilizing Europe. Proxy forces, shadowy groups and national armies representing half a dozen countries are fighting on the ground and in the air. The world seems one incident away from World War III in the vacuum U.S. troops left behind—as when NATO member Turkey recently shot down a Russian jet.
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates occasionally meets veterans of the Iraq and Afghan wars in his travels. What their effort bought seldom comes up. “We don’t really talk about where we are today,” he says. “You have to assume it’s very painful for a Marine who lost a buddy in Fallujah to see an outfit like ISIS in charge of Fallujah again. Was the sacrifice worth it?”
Mr. Gates, along with President George W. Bush and Gen. David Petraeus, was a prosecutor of the troop surge, a decision unpopular even in the Pentagon to double down on the Iraq war in 2006. His 2014 memoir, “Duty,” which a New York Times reviewer called “one of the best Washington memoirs ever,” makes clear that the suffering of U.S. troops weighed more and more heavily on him as he served under President Bush and then re-upped under President Obama. Today, if the mess in Iraq comes up, he tells those who served there, “You accomplished your mission. It was the Iraqis that squandered our victory.”
But Mr. Gates also believes the outcome could have been different if the U.S. had kept troops in place. Islamic State wouldn’t have spread its influence across the border from Syria. More important than firepower, he says, was having a four-star representative of the U.S. military present who could “bring Sunni and Kurdish and Shia leaders together, make them talk to each other. When that process disappeared, all the external brakes on Maliki”—Iraq’s then-Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whom Mr. Gates blames for the unraveling—“disappeared.”
In 2008 the Bush administration gritted its teeth and reached a Status of Forces Agreement with Mr. Maliki, keeping U.S. troops in place through 2011. Whether a second agreement was in the cards we may never know. “It was clear from the Bush experience that it was going to take the deep involvement of the president, really working the phones and twisting arms. And my impression is that that didn’t happen.”
Mr. Gates, 72, is making the rounds on behalf of his new book, “A Passion for Leadership,” drawing on his experience reforming large institutions, including the CIA under the first President Bush, the Pentagon and, his favorite job, as president of Texas A&M University from 2002-06. As we settle at a table at the bar in midtown Manhattan’s London hotel, Mr. Gates, the freshly minted author of a management book, appears less than impressed with the greatest management book of all time (by its author’s own estimate), “The Art of the Deal.” Donald Trump “brings the same skill set to leadership in the public sector that I would bring to the New York real-estate market,” he says. “The skills don’t transfer. When he talks about making other countries do things, it’s just completely unrealistic.”…
[To Read the Full Briefing Click the Following Link—Ed.]
The IDF’s Misplaced Trust in the PA: Caroline Glick, Breaking Israel News, Feb. 3, 2016 —Amjad Sakari made no effort to hide his feelings and intentions towards Israel. The soldier in the Palestinian security forces filled his Facebook page with paeans to Saddam Hussein. Last weekend he published two posts indicating his imminent plan to carry out a terrorist attack.
If the US Can Decrypt Vital Israeli Transmissions, Who Else Can?: Judah Ari Gross, Times of Israel, Jan. 29, 2016—News that the United States and the United Kingdom have for years been tapping into the encrypted communications of Israel Air Force drones and fighter jets sent shock waves through Israel on Friday, with the story dominating the front pages of the country’s newspapers.
IDF Moves Steel Formation as Part of Multi-Arena Force: Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 28, 2016—This week the IDF’s Armored Division 162, also known as the Steel Formation, officially moved from the Central Command, where it has been based for nearly 40 years, to the Southern Command, marking a significant step in realizing plans by IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot to prepare the military for future challenges on Israel’s borders.
Dr. Eitan Shamir’s New Book on Military Command: BESA, Jan. 10, 2016—The Israel Ministry of Defense has published an updated and revised Hebrew edition of Dr. Eitan Shamir’s landmark book, Transforming Command (Stanford UP, 2011; Pikud Mesima, Modan, 2015). The book has been endorsed by General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, and has become required reading in many military academies including the US army, navy and marines, the UK military colleges, and in the IDF.