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Thursday, December 7, 2006

Army reform can't wait

Ron Ben-Yishai

Army reform can't wait

IDF needs to fix flaws soon in order to be ready for possible war in summer,7340,L-3336385,00.html

Published: 12.05.06, 14:17

The IDF's response to the state comptroller's report published Monday is even
more interesting than the report itself. As opposed to past years, the IDF did
not make do with promises to fix the flaws and did not focus on an effort to
disprove some of the findings.

This time around, the IDF provided to-the-point responses to each one of the
review chapters and did not attempt to argue with the comptroller, but rather,
chose to explain what the flaws stem from and provide a detailed explanation
of how it intends to fix them. Yet while doing this, the army revealed its
slow and cumbersome conduct, even when it comes to an urgent need to fix
critical flaws that undermine its combat capabilities.

The response document issued by the IDF spokesperson shows that only by the
end of next year we'll start seeing genuine changes and reforms in the areas
of logistical and budgetary planning, as well as the training of commanders.
This means that 2007 will be a year of administrative work, and therefore it
is a "wasted year" in terms of practical results that will affect functioning
during wartime.

Only in 2008, if everything proceeds as planned, will the required revolution
in logistical panning take place and we'll see an actual improvement in the
professional training of commanders at all levels, so that they can function
efficiently in a battle that combines various forces.

If those were days of peace - so be it. Yet the working assumptions the IDF
came up with about a month ago are unequivocal: The military has to be ready
and fit in the coming summer for a large confrontation in the north with Syria
and Hizbullah. Even before that, in the coming months, it has to be prepared
for a large-scale operation in the Gaza Strip.

This doesn't mean that a war in the north will necessarily take place this
summer, or that a large-scale operation in the Strip is unavoidable, yet
military intelligence estimates view such scenarios with a relatively high
degree of probability, and the IDF general staff drew the correct conclusions
and translated them to annual working assumptions for 2007.

The problem is that the timetable dictated by those assumptions is
incommensurate with the timetable for fixing the flaws affecting the IDF's
functioning during war, as pointed to by the state comptroller's report.
Notably, not all flaws detailed in the report directly affect the army's
readiness for war.

Challenges won't wait another year

The slow handling of sexual harassment in the IDF, just like financial
irregularities at the Defense Ministry, are severe phenomenon that require
immediate attention, yet they do not directly undermine the army's ability to
deal with guerillas, rockets, and Syrian missiles.

Yet when the deputy chief of staff does not possess accurate quantitative
information regarding the stocks of all armaments and combat means, and when a
considerable number of field commanders did not receive the proper
professional training that would allow them to manage a battle that combines
infantry, armored corps, and air force units, this is an obstacle whose
results we already experienced in the Lebanon War, and we don't want to
experience them again in the near future.

The IDF is right when it argues that the government and Treasury have been
rejecting for years its demand for a multi-year budget, and that as a result
of the absence of such budget, as well as the frequent budget cuts, it is
forced to plan everything on the go and to improvise.

As a result of the cutbacks and improvisation, planning has been disrupted and
important areas were neglected - particularly those that did not meet
immediate needs at the various combat theaters or political caprices.

Therefore, a comprehensive reform in the IDF's planning processes and methods,
as well as in the training of commanders in accordance with the IDF's response
to the comptroller's report, is justified. Yet the security challenges the
army will be required to respond to won't wait.

Hence, we could expect that the IDF would respond to the comptroller's report,
which appeared to almost predict some of the flaws we saw in the Lebanon War
(the review was undertaken in the year before the war), by formulating a
multi-phased plan that will speed up the rate of fixing the flaws.

This would mean immediate, specific responses (within several months) to the
severe functional flaws that affect the fighting force, and at a later phase a
methodical, thorough repair of processes and work methods across the entire
military establishment.

The IDF's response to the comptroller's report shows no sign this is about to
happen. Yet it's very possible that in two weeks, once the IDF inquiries into
the Lebanon War end, the army and its top brass will come to their senses and
shift gears.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.


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