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IDF unveils ‘Momentum Plan’ to make it deadlier and faster, if it can pay for it… Israel reportedly readying defenses for Iran drone, cruise missile attack

IDF unveils ‘Momentum Plan’ to make it deadlier and faster, if it can pay for it

Army chief intends to spend large sums to outfit troops with better gear and improve air defenses to deal a powerful blow to Israel’s enemies before they can hit back

By JUDAH ARI GROSS

IDF chief of staff holds a meeting around a camp fire with senior air force officers on October 23, 2019. (Israel Defense Forces)

IDF chief of staff holds a meeting around a camp fire with senior air force officers on October 23, 2019. (Israel Defense Forces)

Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi on Thursday unveiled his multi-year plan to make the military deadlier, faster, better trained and more capable of defending the Jewish state against the threats facing it today.

“In the northern and southern arenas the situation is tense and precarious and poised to deteriorate into a conflict despite the fact that our enemies are not interested in war. In light of this, the IDF has been in an accelerated process of preparation,” Kohavi said.

The plan — dubbed Momentum, or Tenufa in Hebrew — will see huge investments in developing the IDF’s arsenals, including increasing its collection of mid-sized drones, obtaining large numbers of precision-guided missiles from the United States and purchasing additional air defense batteries.

The military will also focus its training exercises more heavily toward urban combat, as it believes that its soldiers are more likely to fight in cities and towns than in the open fields where many drills are currently held.

IDF and Cypriot National Guard soldiers take part in a joint exercise at the Israeli army’s Tzeelim training base in southern Israel on October 25, 2017. (Israel Defense Forces)

Despite the weighty price tag of the Momentum Multi-Year Plan, the IDF refused to comment on how it planned to pay for the new weapons and defensive systems, as the Finance Ministry has not approved the necessary budget increase.

The plan will formally go into effect on January 1, 2020, but the IDF sets to put into place some of the proposals before then. The Momentum Plan is meant to guide the IDF for the next five years. It will succeed the streamlining and cost-cutting Gideon Plan, which was developed by Kohavi’s predecessor Lt. Gen. (res.) Gadi Eisenkot.

Kohavi laid out the framework for the Momentum Plan in April 2019, and the IDF’s top brass spent the last six months working out the finer details of the overhaul.

Win quickly

The IDF’s guiding principle in developing the Momentum Plan was that a future war must be won as quickly as possible, requiring the military to have at ready a concrete list of targets, the weapons needed to hit them and the ability to do so rapidly.

That view comes from the fact that the IDF’s primary foe in the region — the Iran-backed Lebanese terror group Hezbollah — maintains a massive arsenal of some 130,000 rockets and missiles that it would be able to use to attack Israeli strategic sites and population centers.

In any future war, the IDF believes it would have to quickly defeat Hezbollah to cut down on the amount of time that the terrorist militia would have to attack Israel.

Hezbollah supporters take part in a procession on the tenth day of Muharram which marks the day of Ashura, on September 10, 2019 in Baalbek, Lebanon. (Stringer/AFP)

In order to do so, the military’s Momentum Plan focuses on improving Military Intelligence’s ability to locate targets in enemy territory, outfitting troops from across the IDF with better and more weapons and equipment, and focusing exercises on the type of fighting that soldiers are expected to experience.

Under the plan, Kohavi will create a task force dedicated to picking targets that will bring together Military Intelligence, the Israeli Air Force and the IDF’s three regional commands. The task force will comprise existing elements of those units and will also expand the use of technology — namely artificial intelligence and big data — in identifying potential targets for military strikes.

“This will improve the number and quality of the targets in the different regions,” the military said earlier this year.

Kohavi also plans to spend vast sums of money on improved gear and weapons for the IDF, including hundreds of millions of shekels to outfit the military’s front-line soldiers with better equipment.

An Israeli Hermes 450 drone flies above the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip on May 29, 2018. (AFP/Jack Guez)

The army chief intends to purchase additional Hermes-450 drones, a mid-sized model that according to foreign reports can be used for both intelligence-gathering and attack operations.

Under the plan, the IDF will also obtain precision-guided missiles from the United States as part of the $3.8 billion a year Washington provides to Israel each year under the Memorandum of Understanding signed by former US president Barack Obama in 2016.

These precision-guided munitions are key elements in allowing the IDF to effectively destroy an enemy’s weapons caches with less collateral damage.

In addition to the offensive equipment Kohavi intends to purchase, the military plans to invest in its air defense systems in order to better protect the country’s key infrastructure and population centers.

Illustrative photo of an Iron Dome Missile Defense battery firing an interceptor missile on August 9, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

This is meant to include a new deployment strategy for existing air defenses and establishing an eighth full-time Iron Dome system. (The military has additional batteries that are staffed in cases of emergency or heightened tensions.)

Kohavi also intends to change the way that Israeli troops conduct training exercises, having them focus more on combat in urban environments from an understanding that this is where future wars will likely be fought.

This will be possible as the IDF is in the process of opening several new training facilities that simulate urban environments.

In order to better monitor the roll-out of the Momentum Plan, Kohavi plans to conduct routine surprise inspections.

Israel reportedly readying defenses for Iran drone, cruise missile attack

This photograph provided by the Israeli Ministry of Defense on Monday Dec. 21, 2015 shows a launch of David's Sling missile defense system.
AP/ Ministry of Defense 2015©

Israel has been on edge to see how the US withdrawal from the region will affect its own security

Israel is preemptively bolstering its defenses over caution that archfoe Iran may retaliate in response to an ongoing spate of mysterious attacks on Iran-backed proxies that have been attributed to the Jewish state, according to Israel’s Army Radio on Tuesday.   

The report claimed, citing anonymous “Israeli sources,” that it was focusing its defense capabilities on harder to detect, low-flying cruise missiles and drone strikes — unlike high arcing ballistic missiles that are easier to intercept. 

As tensions escalate in the region, the Israel Defense Forces have apparently been on high alert and the security cabinet will convene for an impromptu meeting next week, according to the source. 

Earlier this week, eyes have been on the Syria and Turkey border as the US pulls troops from the region, but at Israel’s request, US President Donald Trump said he would leave a “small contingent” of soldiers.

The pulling back of military presence by Israel’s staunchest ally has been a key concern for the Jewish state. But, Israeli leaders have been outspoken in their mission to defend the country against the threat of Iran. 

Last month, citing several Iranian, Western and Iraqi sources, Reuters reported that Tehran had dispatched missiles to its allies as a “back-up plan” in case Iran were attacked by the United States or Israel.

The missiles were said to be in the 10’s and the transfers were intended to send a warning to the US and Israel, especially following a number airstrikes on Iranian troops in Syria that analysts have attributed to the Jewish state.

Deemed to have ranges between 200 to 700 kilometers, the report claimed that Israel’s densely populated city of Tel Aviv and Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh would be within striking distance, if launched from southern or western Iraq.

IDF CHIEF SAYS ALL FRONTS ‘FRAGILE,’ COULD DETERIORATE INTO A WARB

ANNA AHRONHEIM

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi in a meeting with IAF commanders. (photo credit:” IDF SPOKESPERSON’S UNIT)

IDF releases new multi-year plan.Israel is currently dealing with multiple arenas and enemies at the same time with the northern front being the most fragile which could deteriorate into war, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi has said.

Despite the fact that Israel’s enemies are not interested in war, the IDF has “increased it’s pace of preparations” for confrontation, Kochavi told journalists on Wednesday. “On both the northern and southern fronts, the situation is tense and fragile, and could deteriorate into a confrontation.”

Tensions with the Hamas-run Gaza Strip continues to pose a threat to Israel, with several rounds of violent conflict breaking out several times over the last year. Close to 2,000 rockets were fired from the blockaded coastal enclave by Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas in the last year alone, killing five Israeli civilians, the highest number of civilian casualties since Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

Ongoing violence in the West Bank by Palestinians has also killed several civilians and IDF soldiers.

But, according to Israel’s top military officer, the “central strategic challenge of the State of Israel lies in the northern arena” where Iran continues to consolidate it’s forces in Syria and continues to work with Hezbollah on it’s precision missile project.

“In both cases, this is an Iranian-led effort, using the territory of countries with very limited governments,” Kochavi said, referring to Syria and Lebanon.

Iran has for years been trying to establish a 1,200 km. length land bridge from Tehran to the Mediterranean, a major concern for Israel which since 2013 has been carrying out a “war-between-wars” campaign aimed at preventing Iran from reaching its goal.

Israeli officials have warned that Iran is also attempting to entrench itself in Iraq, a mainly Shia country, as it did in Syria, where it has established and consolidated a parallel security structure and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in August hinted at Israel’s role in several strikes in the country saying that “Iran has no immunity, anywhere.”

This summer a new border crossing 2.6 km west of the official Al-Bukamal Al-Qaim border crossing opened between Syria and Iraq, making it easier for Iran to expedite the transfer of weapons from Tehran to groups like Hezbollah in Syria or Lebanon.

“For many years Hezbollah has taken the State of Lebanon hostage and established its own army there,” Kochavi said adding that it is Hezbollah that “actually determines the security policy” of Beirut.

In August, Israel was blamed for a drone attack on Hezbollah in it’s Beirut stronghold which, according to a report by The Times, targeted Hezbollah’s precision missile project, including crates with machinery to mix high-grade propellent for precision guided missiles.

Shortly after that alleged Israeli attack and an Israel Air Force strike in Syria days earlier which killed two Hezbollah operatives planning to launch a drone attack against northern Israel, Hezbollah fired a Kornet anti-tank missile towards an IDF vehicle in northern Israel.

While there were no Israeli casualties or injuries, the incident marked the first time since the Second Lebanon War in 2006 which saw direct confrontation between the IDF and Hezbollah which is fully backed by Iran.

A senior defense official said this summer that while preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb remains Israel’s top priority, thwarting Hezbollah’s precision missile project has become the second top objective. After those two is preventing Iranian entrenchment in various Middle Eastern countries. 

“Due to developments and situational assessments, it was decided three months ago that the precision missile project would be given high priority because of the immediate danger it poses. The military echelons were informed of this decision,” the senior official said, adding that “we cannot afford to be surrounded by thousands of precision missiles that could land and harm the State of Israel.”

According to the source, “Our three targets have one address – Iran,” adding that Iran’s Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani is the address for two of the three threats.

“To prevent this consolidation by Iran, we are carrying out many operations that nobody knows anything about,” he said, adding that the operations are carried out by the IDF and Mossad.

With Israel facing multiple arenas and enemies at the same time, the IDF has released its new multi-year plan which will focus on improving the military’s defensive and offensive capabilities.

Dubbed “Amplitude”, the multi-year plan will officially begin on January 1st 2020 and was formed following a critical and comprehensive investigation into the IDF’s strengths and weaknesses which led the military to decide to update the operating concept and build a new one for the next decade.

While the plan will formally go into effect in the new year, the military has already begun to implement several decisions, including two general combat procedures, one in the south and one in the north.

Under the plan there will be a change in the formulation of the operational concept of victory of the IDF, which will include new concepts and methods of warfare which have been adapted to the challenges of the urban battlefield saturated with enemy fire.

The IDF will also focus on closing the gaps in several key areas, including weapons and manpower as well as increasing the intelligence directorate’s ability to detect enemy forces in urban areas. The military will also focus on improving offensive capabilities of all corps against decentralized enemy troops which requires more offensive platforms and weapons.

As such, the military will procure a significant amount of precision guided missiles and mid-sized drones as well as additional air defense batteries.

The IDF will also spread capabilities to all the operational-end units (battalions and companies), get different branches to work together in maneuvering and defense, and empower troops and commanders in the field. 

There will also be a digital transformation in the IDF, where all troops will be connected-from the drones and pilots in the sky to the tank and platoon commanders on the ground to improve the military’s effectiveness by sharing information, knowledge and capabilities.

The plan, which will focus on the preparedness of troops for future war, will preserve the increased training which was implemented under the Gideon multi-year plan (an increase from 13 weeks to 17 weeks of consecutive training) and increase troops training for urban combat in realistic simulators.

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