IDF chief says all fronts 'fragile,' could deteriorate into a war

IDF releases new multi-year plan.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi in a meeting with IAF commanders (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi in a meeting with IAF commanders
Israel is currently dealing with multiple arenas and enemies at the same time, with the northern front the most fragile and at risk of deteriorating into war, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi said.
Despite the fact that Israel’s enemies are not interested in war, the IDF has “increased its 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,” Kochavi said.
Tensions with the Hamas-run Gaza Strip continue to pose a threat to Israel, with rounds of violent conflict breaking out several times over the last year. Close to 2,000 rockets were fired from the blockaded coastal enclave towards Israel 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 its forces in Syria and work with Hezbollah on its 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.
For years, Iran has 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 that 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. 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 its Beirut stronghold which, according to a report by The Times, targeted Hezbollah’s precision missile project, including crates with machinery to mix high-grade propellant for precision-guided missiles.
Shortly after that alleged Israeli attack and an IAF 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 that saw direct confrontation between the IDF and Hezbollah, which is fully backed by Iran.
A senior defense official this summer said 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 goals, the official said, comes the third priority of 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 senior official said. “The military echelons were informed of this decision. 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 the 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 “Momentum,” the plan will officially begin on January 1, 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 next 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 – to encourage different branches to work together in maneuvering and defense, as well as empower troops and commanders in the field.
There will also be a digital transformation, where all aspects 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 that 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.