[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
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
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
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
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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