Friday, July 27, 2007

Look Forward, Not Backward

Martin van Creveld, a professor of military history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, writes is not at all certain that the measures now being taken are indeed the right ones.

For one thing, little if anything has been done to fix Israel’s top-level decision-making machinery, which the Winograd commission determined to be neither well constructed nor capable of providing proper support to the prime minister.

...Suffice it to say, an Israeli equivalent to America’s National Security Council does not appear be on the horizon.

In its preparations and exercises, the Israeli military seems to be focusing heavily on fighting the Syrian army. Units as large as brigades are being put through their paces. Infantrymen using paintball, with similarly-equipped female soldiers playing “the enemy,” are taught how to fight in built-up areas. Tanks and armored personnel carriers drive about, raising clouds of dust.

It is as if Israel, instead of preparing for the future, is determined to fight the 1973 Yom Kippur War all over again. Indeed, the spectacle of anti-tank ditches being dug in the Golan Heights reinforces the sense of déjà vu.

While such preparations are going on, there still does not appear to be a solution to the problem of short-range unguided missiles.

...In other words, a year after the war with Hezbollah, there is no indication that the Israeli military — or anybody else in the country, for that matter — knows how to ensure that the Israeli home front does not collapse under the hail of rockets that may soon rain down on it. And let’s not forget that Syria, unlike Hezbollah, has missiles capable of hitting just about anywhere in Israel, and some of those missiles are armed with chemical warheads.

Armies, like football teams, can only be as good as their opponents, especially in the long run. Perhaps the main lesson of last summer’s war was neither tactical nor strategic.

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