Israel remains one of the few states that still have a comprehensive national military doctrine. In developing the concept of using armed forces in regional conflicts, the Israeli command proceeds from the fact that Israel cannot afford to lose a single war. It is desirable to avoid war by political efforts, and human losses should be reduced to a minimum. The fact that the small size of Israel and the lack of strategic depth require the transfer of hostilities to the enemy’s territory is also taken into account. The limited resources, primarily human, exclude the possibility of waging war for a long time and makes it necessary to quickly defeat the opposing side. Therefore, along with the use of conventional weapons, the Israeli leadership admits the use of weapons of mass destruction in a war as the most powerful means of influencing the enemy, or the threat of using such weapons. An important role is played by the principle of “kosem leumi” (“sustainable solidarity”), which includes the constant mobilization readiness of Israeli society, its unity, patriotism, public moral support of the army, and the understanding that the needs of the country’s defense and security are paramount.
The main goal of the war is to defeat the opposing side of a decisive military defeat, to destroy or maximally weaken the military and civilian (primarily economic) structures of the enemy through the use of all the means of warfare available to Israel. If this goal is achieved, the potential adversary will be forced to sign peace agreements on Israeli terms.
The Israeli military doctrine allows for the possibility of waging a preemptive war or preemptive strikes against the most important enemy targets in the event of the inevitability of an armed confrontation or their activities that pose a real threat to Israel’s security.
Israel’s main military and strategic ally is the United States, which officially guarantees its security and provides significant military and economic assistance. At the same time, the Israelis have no real allies directly in the Middle East region. The task is to maintain strategic relations with other “key” states, to strengthen the status of Israel in the regional arena and to establish cooperation with moderate countries.
An important deterrent is considered to maintain a constant qualitative superiority over the armed forces of Iran and the Arab states, primarily Egypt and Syria. In accordance with this provision Israel is carried out the modernization of the means of warfare, improved methods of use of the ground forces, air force, navy and special operations forces. On a modern technological base, new types of weapons and military equipment are being created, primarily missile and air defense / missile defense, improved systems for managing troops and weapons, communications, reconnaissance, including using space means, as well as organizational structure of the formations and units of all types of the Armed Forces. At the same time, the main stake in achieving military-technical superiority over the Arab countries is to develop broad ties with the United States.
It is believed that victory in modern war is achieved primarily as a result of concerted actions of all types of the Armed Forces and troops. In this regard, particular importance is attached to the organization of a clear interaction between them. Given the country’s geographic location, the Israeli command regards the Air Force as the main striking force and key tool for striking targets in enemy territory. In the ground forces, the main efforts are directed to the improvement of armored (mechanized) and airborne troops. A small but well-equipped Navy is tasked with neutralizing the actions of the enemy at sea.
Special attention is paid to the information security of the state, which is considered a cornerstone in the national security system due to the widespread use of computer technology.
And yet, to date, Israel’s military doctrine does not fully meet the requirements for ensuring national security. The significant changes that have occurred in recent years in the military-political situation in the Middle East region and the world, changes in the nature of the conduct of hostilities have demanded that the country’s leadership review a number of provisions of the concept of national security. The key principle was recognized as the “prevention of war and deterrence of the enemy, carried out according to the principle of “protect and win”, as well as “regional and international cooperation in opposing the enemy”. It also emphasizes that “the use of military force must comply with the political goals of the state and international laws of warfare”.
Speaking about the new military doctrine, Israeli Prime Minister B. Netanyahu said: “Because our territory is small, our country’s population density is great, and there are many threats around us, the security needs of Israel will always be much greater than the security needs of any state similar sizes. The Israeli economy today is strong enough to make this increase in costs possible, and, in any case, the increase in military spending will be achieved while maintaining a responsible budget framework. … Facing a whole range of threats, we are now at a turning point. Today, we need to invest more in our security in order to protect our achievements and ensure continued economic prosperity. Combining military power and economic power will increase the value of Israel in the eyes of other states and thereby increase our political role”.
It is believed that at present, it is unlikely to be a large-scale war with the use of conventional weapons with neighboring Arab states. Israeli experts say: “We need to take into account the fact that today’s theater of military operations is completely different from everything we knew before. At the moment, much less emphasis is placed on the use of heavy weapons, the focus is on technology, on unmanned aerial vehicles, which give us a significant advantage over our opponents. Today, battles of the army with the army of the type that were during the Yom Kippur War (1973 — auth.) are much less likely”. At the same time, the enemy is actively using rocket attacks, penetration into the territory of Israel of terrorist groups, including suicide bombers, cyber attacks. The main external threat is called “the desire of the enemy to impose Islamic power on various countries of the Middle East, including Israel, and attempts by the forces opposing Israel to drain the resources of Israeli society”. Strategic adversary №1 is now considered not to be Arab countries, but Iran developing missile weapons and striving to build its own nuclear potential, as well as quasi-state entities — Hezbollah, HAMAS, Islamic State (ISIS, banned in the Russian Federation) and others in the territories of neighboring states or controlled by the Palestinians. In these circumstances, Israel must have the ability to strike at an enemy state and non-state groupings far beyond its borders.
The new version of the Israeli military doctrine provides for the conduct of “battles between wars”. This provision has already been actively used by Israel in recent years and implies the targeting of air strikes and missile strikes on the enemy’s infrastructure (weapons stores, rocket launchers, underground tunnels, etc.) with the minimum possible civilian casualties. For example, Israel in every way prevents the military consolidation of Iran in neighboring Syria, including through regular attacks on Iranian military facilities in the territory of the SAR. At the same time, a large-scale military conflict is currently objectively not in the interests of either Israel, or Iran, or Hezbollah. Iran faces significant social and economic problems, which are aggravated by new tough US sanctions. In addition, Tehran believes that the outbreak of war with Israel is likely to entail US military intervention. In Israel, they understand that a war with Iran will be much worse and more dangerous than the Lebanese campaign of 2006, and may lead to an unacceptable level of losses. And yet, experts note that with the current intensity of tensions between Iran and Israel, “a military conflict may break out due to the fact that someone’s nerves are over”.
Institute of the Middle East.
On changes in the military-political situation in the Middle East and North Africa (June 10-16, 2019). Annex.