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Thursday, June 02, 2005

Smarter lighter armies for Israel and America

Israel's new IDF Chief of Staff appears to be taking a leaf from the playbook of US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Like Rumsfeld, Halutz wants to refocus Israel's military to be more flexible, lighter on its feet and technologically integrated. Like Rumsfeld Halutz may be focusing on the reality of a battlefield saturated with guerrillas and terrorists but ignoring the threat of a large scale ground war.

Rumsfeld's cuts of systems such as Crusader weaken America's abilities to face down large scale armies in the field where heavy artillery and tanks and conventional armaments are needed. America faces the possibility of such a war with China or Putin's Russia but neither of those are likely possibilities. With the fall of the Soviet Union, Rumsfeld's changes while risky may be pragmatic at least in the short term.

No Iron Curtain however has fallen for Israel and the Arab armies remain an ongoing threat. While Israel is currently fighting terrorists, those terrorists themselves are merely feints used by the Arab nations to weaken Israel in preparation for a repeat of the Yom Kippur War. Too much readjustment to the kinds of tactics needed to fight terrorism will leave Israel vulnerable in the event of a regional war. Changes such as the abolition of the Central Command are reasonable in dealing with a decentralized patchwork war but leave vital weaknesses in Israel's defense strategy in the event of a repetition of the Yom Kippur War.

Israel cannot allow present dangers to blind it to future wars.

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