IDF appoints general to lead new Iran Command as threat escalates

Momentum plan will also see military open a new infantry division as well as close one tank battalion and one air force squadron in the coming year.

Iranians burn U.S and Israeli flags as they gather to mourn General Qassem Soleimani, head of the elite Quds Force, who was killed in an air strike at Baghdad airport, in Tehran, Iran January 4, 2020.  (photo credit: NAZANIN TABATABAEE/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)
Iranians burn U.S and Israeli flags as they gather to mourn General Qassem Soleimani, head of the elite Quds Force, who was killed in an air strike at Baghdad airport, in Tehran, Iran January 4, 2020.
The IDF will be establishing a new Iran Command as one of the top priorities of Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi’s multiyear Momentum Plan, which aims to obtain a considerable military advantage over Israel’s foes.
The new Iran Command will be led by a major general and will be dedicated to and focused on analyzing threats posed by Iran and planning Israel’s campaign against the Islamic Republic.
It will bolster the IDF’s attack capabilities, including: using technological means for IAF jets to destroy enemy targets; increasing the military’s intelligence superiority; expanding intelligence gathering on the Islamic Republic, including by satellites; improving cyber capabilities, both defensive and offensive.
The plan was approved by Defense Minister Naftali Bennett and presented to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It will be presented to the cabinet for approval. On Thursday, Kochavi presented the plan to all IDF commanders with the rank of lieutenant-colonel and higher.
“After a thorough and in-depth process with the chief of staff, IDF commanders and the defense establishment, I endorsed the Momentum Plan that will allow the IDF to strike at the enemy faster, with greater force, with greater lethality and thus defeating the enemy and achieving victory,” Bennett said on Thursday, adding that the plan will allow the military to end any future conflict in a decisive manner.
“The IDF is fast, strong and deadly,” he said.
The army believes it is of the utmost importance to build the military for threats it will face some 30 years in the future and [therefore] built the new multiyear plan accordingly, with new concepts and methods of warfare that have been adapted to the challenges of the urban battlefield saturated with enemy fire.
According to the military, while there remains a gap between the IDF and its enemies, it is closing quickly, and Israel needs to take advantage of the strategic opportunity to stay one step ahead by making the necessary changes.
While the budget for the multiyear plan has not yet been agreed to with the Finance Ministry, the IDF said the resources available to it – the budget for 2020 and the US Memorandum of Understanding, along with changes in internal priorities – will allow it to implement many of the decisions of the plan.
If not, the military believes there will be a risk to Israel’s national security.
“The threats are not waiting for us,” Kochavi told the General Staff. “We are at a point in time that if we do not press hard on the gas now, and open the gap [between Israel and her enemies] – not within a month, not within a year, but within a few years it will dictate how we win and how fast we win.”
With more active and explosive fronts on Israel’s borders, and with enemy arsenals turning groups like Hezbollah into terrorist armies, the guiding principle for the Momentum Plan is to win any future war as quickly as possible.
Even though Israel’s enemies are not interested in war, the IDF has “increased it’s pace of preparations” for confrontation, Kochavi told journalists in October. “On both the northern and southern fronts, the situation is tense and fragile and can deteriorate into a confrontation.”
As part of the plan, which aims to make the military more lethal in scope and accuracy, the IDF will be opening a new infantry division as well as closing one tank battalion and one IAF squadron in the coming year.
In addition to closing the tank battalion, the IDF will also reduce the number of tanks in defensive divisions, thereby saving millions of shekels. Instead of maintaining and installing new weaponry on the tanks, the army will replace 150 Merkava MK 3 tanks with new advanced Merkava MK 4 tanks.
A new infantry division (the 99th Division) will be established for rapid-maneuvering attack forces able to penetrate enemy territory. The division will have four brigades and will have elite reserve units. The military expects the new division to be operational by 2023. The 900th Kfir Brigade will also be converted into a more lethal maneuvering infantry force for operations in both the Northern and Southern Commands.
“The implementation of the Momentum multiyear program will enable the IDF to increase considerable capabilities, both in scope and accuracy, therefore creating conditions for shortening the length of the next campaign,” Kochavi said. “The challenges around us do not allow us to wait – and so, despite the complexity, the multiyear program has begun.”
The IDF will also focus on strengthening the military’s readiness and ability to change and adapt, as well as focus on improving the military’s overall defensive and offensive capabilities. Under the plan, the military will double the number of precision weapons in its arsenal over the next five years.
AS PART of the expansion of the IDF’s defensive capabilities, it will broaden its view of the threat posed by long-range missiles and will increase the number of missile interceptor systems for a multilayer protection umbrella against precision missiles, cruise missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles and more.
The IDF will also begin a nationwide deployment of the Iron Dome missile-defense system instead of regional deployments.
The military has changed its formulation of the operational concept of victory, which will include new concepts and methods of warfare that have been adapted to the challenges of the urban battlefield saturated with enemy fire.
If in previous wars troops could visualize the enemy in one clear location, today’s enemy is decentralized and much harder to visualize. They have become time-sensitive targets that challenge the IDF to strike them immediately after they are detected before they disappear once again.
The military will invest significant amounts to increase the Intelligence Directorate’s ability to detect enemy forces in urban areas and broaden its target bank on both its southern and northern fronts. The military will also focus on improving offensive capabilities of all corps against decentralized enemy troops, which requires more offensive platforms and weapons.
As part of the plan, the IDF has already opened a new multidimensional combat unit, organically integrating the capabilities of soldiers and officers from various units across the IDF for a deadlier maneuvering force. The unit will be equipped with classified combat technologies, some still being developed, which are adapted to the future battlefield, as well as UAVs for a variety of missions.
Under the plan, the IDF will also spread capabilities to all the operational-end units (battalions and companies) to get the different branches to work together in maneuvering and defense and to empower troops and commanders in the field.
In today’s modern battlefield, the ability to share information and maintain continuous communication between different forces is vital for the success of any mission. As such, there will also be a digital transformation in the IDF, where all troops will be connected, including the pilot in the sky and the platoon commander on the ground.
THE IDF will also upgrade all regional headquarters in the West Bank to become “smart headquarters” with capabilities allowing troops to identify and warn of threats. The capabilities will also allow the transfer of intelligence gathered on the threat to troops in the field, who can then operate against them within a short amount of time.
Under the plan, the southern border will also be upgraded with “smart border” segments, which will see battalions with unique units equipped with robotic and automated interception capabilities that will be able to instantly identify threats.
The military will also adapt training to the challenges of urban combat and establish urban-combat training facilities with advanced virtual-reality simulators for both soldiers and reservists, which will allow them to strengthen their fighting methods to match the characteristics of the modern battlefield and those of Israel’s enemies.
There will also be an increase in the total number of advanced vehicles procured by the military under the plan. Besides the Merkava MK4 tanks, Namer and Eitan armored personnel carriers and thousands of advanced logistic trucks will be procured over the next five years.