Leadership: Israel Rediscovers Big Wars

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July 9, 2007: Israel continues to seek lessons from their war last year with Hizbollah, and now there's a government report pointing out at, when the fighting broke out last Summer, Israel had not conducted a large scale military operation since 1982 (when they went into Lebanon to stop terrorist attacks on northern Israel.) That was 24 years ago, and there were no senior Israeli commanders with any experience in large scale operations. That's a first for Israel, because previously, there had always been a recent war (as in 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973, 1982), and officers who remembered how to fight it. But that was not the real problem. No, the big mistake was, in the last decade, dropping training for large scale military operations. Oh, the military staffs continued to maintain and update plans for large scale combat with Israel's neighbors. But the generals did not participate in training exercises and wargames for these large scale operations. Part of that was budget problems. Israel always spent a lot on the military, and there was always pressure to cut back. Moreover, there was an attitude among senior political and military leaders that the major problem was, for the foreseeable future, going to be Islamic terrorists, not Arab armies from neighboring nations. The terrorism angle became crucial after the Palestinians began their terrorism campaign against Israel in late 2000. Getting ready for a major conventional war fell off the radar after that. What happened last Summer was a reminder of what happens when you guess wrong, and prepare for the wrong future. As a result, the generals, and those destined to be generals, are now all about training for large scale operations.

 


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