Foreign Affairs & Security Committee: Gaps in war preparedness

Subcommittee for Defense Doctrine and Force Building publishes report on war preparedness; two members refuse to sign.

Mordechai Sones,

Committee members Dichter, Shelach, and Yogev present public section of report
Committee members Dichter, Shelach, and Yogev present public section of report
Flash 90

The Subcommittee for Defense Doctrine and Force Building of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee today published the unclassified section of the report it prepared following publication of the five-year Gideon plan which sought to outline parameters of IDF doctrine.

The subcommittee, headed by MK Ofer Shelah (Yesh Atid), held over 30 discussions and field trips during the course of 2015, learning the thought, design, and implementation of the multi-year Gideon program.

The committee report presents its conclusions regarding the plan at all levels, from the viewpoint of the political echelon in the process of designing a multi-year plan through examination of IDF strategy and on to the designing of the plan as a derivative thereof. It examines the implementation of the plan at the levels of various IDF branches and units.

עופר שלח
צילום: מרים אלסטר, פלאש 90

Along with the committee's comments and criticism, it also praises the IDF and finds it to be an ethical and judicious army that is capable of investigating itself and arriving at decisions, however difficult, in order to ensure readiness in time of emergency.

The classified version of the report is 54 pages long and is signed by coalition and opposition members of the subcommittee, while the unclassified version of the report comprises 30 pages. MKs Moti Yogev (Jewish Home) and Yoav Kish (Likud) refused to sign the unclassified version, calling it political.

To read the unclassified version in the original Hebrew click here.

The report states that the Gideon plan constitutes an appropriate framework for internalizing the lessons of recent wars and drawing proper conclusions from the changes in the strategic environment, the nature of the enemy and the war itself. The Chief of the General Staff places emphasis on army readiness and focuses on its core tasks.

At the same time, the desire to establish an army that is focused and capable of carrying out its missions encountered two significant obstacles:

First, the plan was designed "from the bottom up" by the IDF and from within it, without a written national security strategy, and most of the process, if not all of it, is without any prior guidance from the political echelon or National Security Council. In the absence of necessary compatibility between directives from the political echelon and operational plans with the kind of force-building they require, failures from previous wars are liable to recur, both in terms of the lack of a critical mass of real capabilities and in the demand for the army to act with a logic other than the one it built and prepared for.

With regard to this difficulty, which for many years has represented a failure in the Israeli system, the committee calls to immediately start the process of designing and approving a national security concept upon which the IDF's role will be based. The existence of such conditions will be a prerequisite to proper design of operational plans, as well as provide a framework for the research plan to come after Gideon.

The committee devotes a large part of the report to the proper way to carry out this process, starting with the deliberations of the Ministerial Committee on National Security Affairs, using staff work to coordinate the NSC, defining the IDF's role in achieving national security goals, according to which the IDF will begin work to design the next plan, while the NSC supervises compliance with the directives from the political echelon, goals, and state resources.

The committee believes that the document should also be viewed with flexibility and supports the Meridor Committee's recommendation in 2006 that the security concept should be reexamined once every few years or following a major event that changes the global or regional picture.

In addition, force-equipping and force-building are done at a rate derived from available options and do not always cover the gaps. With regard to this difficulty, the committee notes several critical areas in which the pace of force-building needs to be adjusted, guided by two principles: First, building a capacity for a defined "critical mass" to be reached as quickly as possible, or else not relying on it while designing action plans. Second, a routine, professional examination without "prior assumptions" of the ability to realize the required achievement on the various fronts, and adapting the required achievement or plans to the IDFs real capabilities.

In the report the committee refers to a number of specific issues in the Planning and Budgeting Committee in these contexts, including changes in positions and manpower, training and inventory, armament and defense systems, efforts underground, cyber, air defense, the Adir F-35, and more.

The committee praised the IDF's cooperation, under the guidance of the Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, throughout the process of the committee's work, both in the design stages and in the implementation stages of the Planning and Budgeting Committee. While honest self-examination, not to be taken for granted in IDF-type organizations, is worthy of praise, it is not, however openly and frankly presented, a substitute for implementing the process described in the committee's deliberations.




top