[Freemanlist2] A Target Destruction Factory" - Asaf Agmon

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A Target Destruction Factory"The Israeli Air Force must prepare for Israel's future conflicts - in terms 
of its force build-up and organizational structure. Brig. Gen. (res.) Asaf 
Agmon on the changes required from the force's command
Asaf Agmon  16/1/2015

Over the last few years, pursuant to the confrontations in Lebanon and the 
Gaza Strip, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) came to the conclusion that it 
should set itself up, in terms of its force build-up and organizational 
structure, in a manner that would be consistent with the future 
confrontations for which it has to prepare.

Although the commander of IAF, Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, stated that he did not 
know what the next war would look like, he assimilated within IAF the 
recognition that the challenges of the force will focus on the issues 
outlined below:

The ability to cope with the enemy's ever-increasing fire delivery 
capability in the form of the massive amounts of rockets and missiles aimed 
at strategic objectives and population concentrations in the rear area of 

The responsibility of IAF for defending Israel's national strategic assets 
against missiles and rockets, from the detection and early warning stage to 
the actual destruction of the threat using its active defense resources.

The need to cope with multiple theaters that are radically different from 
one another, from remotely located "third circle" countries that possess 
state-owned capabilities (including nuclear capabilities?) to terrorist 
detachments that accept no state responsibility on the one hand, but object 
to no means whatsoever in accomplishing their objectives on the other.

The possibility of a local flare-up triggering a multiple-theater 
confrontation opposite fronts that differ in their characteristics and in 
the danger they pose, including the possibility of having to deal with 
multiple theaters simultaneously.

The need to face a new and different battlefield that contains 
state-of-the-art surface-to-air missile systems, armed unmanned airborne 
vehicles, GPS jammers and so forth.

The need to develop a fire delivery capability that is lethal in its 
operational scope and offensive throughput.

The need to develop the ability to fit into a large-scale ground maneuver 
while understanding the ground tactics and becoming fully integrated in all 
of its stages.

The need to accomplish all of the missions assigned to IAF under full 
"business continuity", despite the high probability of the IAF airbases an 
assets coming under enemy rocket and missile attacks.

Having summed up all of the issues outlined above, IAF came to the 
realization that in the face of all of these challenges, it must build 
itself and prepare so that it would constitute a massive force that may be 
employed either gradually or explosively, while maintaining its flexibility 
and ability to adapt promptly, within minimum time constants and according 
to the directives of the political echelon. Moreover, the conclusions were 
reached subject to the realization that the State of Israel and its military 
echelon do not have the option of engaging in long-term military 
confrontation owing to political, economic and strategic reasons, so IAF 
will be evaluated by its ability to deliver the desired results within just 
a few days of fighting.

In view of the above, IAF has been preparing accordingly with regard to its 
acquisitions. IAF has been building up its force in the critical area of 
maintaining its air superiority over all potential confrontation areas. This 
activity necessitates a massive investment in procurement (F-35 fighters, 
for example) and training. Without air superiority, the ability of IAF to 
deliver its fire potential and actually fit into the ground maneuver will be 
severely curtailed. Additionally, our ground forces will become much more 
vulnerable to enemy threats – much more significantly than anything we have 
been accustomed to for many years.

The operational staff of IAF is preparing and deploying in the best way to 
implement its offensive capabilities. IAF continues to invest in weapon 
systems, technologies and organizational revisions that would enable it to 
destroy enemy targets at an "industrial rate". In fact, the commander of IAF 
is leading the organization under his command toward becoming a "target 
destruction factory".

Practical Experience

Operation Protective Edge found IAF in the midst of a revision process. The 
IAF operational staff was subjected to and is still undergoing a change it 
has not experienced for many years. The offensive operational doctrine, 
which includes the options for destroying enemy targets at a rate that is 
much higher than was possible before, has been implemented in part, and IAF 
is hard at work expanding it with regard to weapon systems on the one hand 
and to the manner in which the offensive force is employed on the other 
hand. This effort includes the development of command and control systems 
that would enable IAF to generate and destroy enemy targets at even higher 

Operation Protective Edge enables us to examine some of the insights of the 
IAF that reached maturation during the operation. The relevance of those 
insights can be analyzed and examined with regard to the tactical level and 
the strategic level.

Generally, it may be concluded that at the tactical level, IAF implemented 
its plans to a considerable extent. IAF aircraft succeeded in destroying an 
unprecedented number of enemy targets within just a few days.

On the defensive side, the Iron Dome system demonstrated impressive 
capabilities and even the intrusion attempts of enemy UAVs were effectively 
prevented. All IAF airbases and assets, as well as the strategic assets of 
the State of Israel, like the power stations of the Israel Electric 
Corporation, the fuel reserves and Israel's international airport maintained 
their operational continuity (with the exception of 33 hours only during 
which Ben-Gurion Airport remained inoperative).

The new IAF operational staff operated impressively in its new format, 
despite the fact that the operation started before the new deployment and 
setup could be completed. Bottom line - IAF fulfilled the expectations and 
beyond at the tactical level.

What remains to be examined are the strategic achievements to which IAF made 
a contribution (or not) in the context of Operation Protective Edge. 
Moreover, the real and most important challenge facing IAF is to tackle a 
highly important question: has it prepared and deployed correctly for the 
future scenarios, conceptually as well as with regard to its force build-up 
and organization?

At the basis of it all, we must internalize the fact that the profile of 
Operation Protective Edge is not even roughly similar to what we can expect 
in the context of the profiles of a partial or full-scale confrontation in 
the north, not to mention a multiple-theater confrontation that would 
include additional theaters and remotely located circles.

Consequently, the accomplishments of the aerial force in such operations as 
Pillar of Defense or Protective Edge should be viewed in perspective and 
examined vis-à-vis the relevant scenarios. Additionally, the target 
destruction capacity results should be examined through the perspective of 
the effect they had on the battlefield and on the actual delivery of the 
desired results.

Does the fact that despite our unprecedented firepower we failed to meet the 
objective of a short confrontation indicate that our concept has failed or 
that our selection of targets has failed? Does it point to the necessity of 
realizing that we would not be able to guarantee a short war through the 
strategy we opted for? Does the dominant status of the IAF, combined with 
the public atmosphere that fears the loss of life among our troopers, lead 
us to defer the employment of ground forces and consequently the war grows 
longer and its results become less decisive? Does IAF possess a satisfactory 
capability to adapt when we encounter surprises (particularly in the ground 
medium), like the subterranean tunnels?

In this writer's view, there is no doubt that the heading the IAF is 
currently maintaining is the right direction. At the same time, without 
compromising the primary effort, we must examine and prepare for additional 
or different possibilities and prepare IAF accordingly.

The dominant leadership status of the aerial force will be further 
consolidated in the future confrontations. This fact assigns a heavy 
responsibility to the commanders of IAF. In order to cope with that 
responsibility, those commanders should develop an open discourse within the 
force and the circles surrounding it, in order to discuss and examine how 
the aerial force of the State of Israel should prepare for scenarios that 
are much more complex and difficult than the scenarios with which we coped 
pursuant to the Yom-Kippur War, which might make us forget or prevent us 
from understanding the tremendous challenge opposite which such slogans as 
"The World's Best Air Force" will prove meaningless.

The scenarios in question could necessitate a ground maneuver involving a 
massive or reduced make-up of forces at the outset of the confrontation or 
during its initial phases.

The tendency to embrace past successes and reject failures automatically 
(often in the context of profiles or at times that are not relevant) is a 
serious mistake. We should examine the issues from their very foundations, 
while maintaining an approach that is free of preconceived concepts or 
fixations. The most prominent characteristic of the 21st century, 
particularly on the battlefield, is the mind-boggling pace at which the 
changes are taking place and the inability to infer unequivocally that 
whatever was valid until recently will remain valid now and in the future.

If we have anything to learn from our enemies it is their capability to 
learn and adapt between and during the actual confrontations.

It is our duty to be superior to them in this dominant field, and the manner 
in which the IAF staff and commanders are currently conducting themselves 
instill in me a sense of optimism regarding the strength and quality of IAF 
and its ability to cope with complex, challenging combat scenarios that we 
could be facing as early as during the coming year.
IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis
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