IDF seek new ways to describe asymmetrical conflict

“The nature of war has not changed, but the nature of the enemy has," says commander of the IDF Command and Staff College.

January 24, 2013 23:20
2 minute read.
Kfir infantry drill,

Kfir infantry drill 370. (photo credit: IDF Spokesman’s Office)


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Senior echelons in the IDF are seeking new approaches and terms to deal with the fact that asymmetrical enemies have become the military’s principal foe, according to the commander of the IDF Command and Staff College, Maj.- Gen. Yossi Baidatz.

“The nature of war has not changed, but the nature of the enemy has. Once, everything was clear and we knew what resolution, victory and deterrence were,” Baidatz said this week. “At the moment, the need for new terms is very much felt – terms that will match the current reality.”

He spoke on Wednesday at a conference held in honor of the late former IDF chief of staff, Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.

“We must eliminate whatever fails to characterize the security concept in recent years, and understand that asymmetric conflict is the main conflict,” Baidatz said.

The changes should include reforms to operational battle approaches, he added.

In the battle arenas of the 21st century, the IDF’s goal is to reach targets “while minimizing [civilian] damages to both sides, and to that end, we must realize that the opponent is of a wholly different kind than the old [enemy].”

The later half of Israel’s history has revolved around unconventional wars, Baidatz argued, in which the IDF faced off against terrorist organizations rather than states.

“Since 1973, we can state that Israel has not had wars against regular state armies, but against terror groups. There is a clear change,” he added.

Recent conflicts such as Operation Pillar of Defense against Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza were asymmetrical clashes. The IDF’s goal in this operation was “not only to disrupt their abilities, but also to lead the enemy to decide that, on the day after the conflict ends, it is not worth his while to renew terrorism against Israel,” he added.

During the November conflict, a Hamas battalion commander held evaluations in his home while dressed in civilian clothes, as his family sat in the adjacent room, Baidatz noted.

In light of the exploitation of noncombatants by terrorists, the IDF exercises caution when using force, to avoid harming civilians, Baidatz explained.

“Before every attack, we weigh up whether it is moral, who it will hurt... we’ll also weigh the effectiveness of the attack for the continuation of the war,” he said. “Will it reduce [conflict], or widen it?”

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