Analysis: Characteristics of a postmodern war

Commanders become smarter and more experienced through their mistakes.

By SHMUEL L. GORDON
January 24, 2007 23:56
2 minute read.
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The war in Lebanon was a failure. It destroyed the deterrence of the IDF and was a major blow to the nation's pride. Many commanders and some civilian leaders bear responsibility for the fiasco, including members of the General Staff and the cabinet. Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz is only one person in that gallery. But being responsible doesn't mean he bears guilt and should be punished. We should remind ourselves that no commander can avoid making at least one mistake. They become smarter and more experienced through their mistakes. Accountability has different faces. One measures past failures, and the other, more significant, looks forward. It is responsible for preparing the IDF for the challenges of the future, for the next conflict, for post-modern wars that threaten the future of this tiny country. The characteristics of a post-modern war are obscure, but a few may be identified. At this time, most of the strategic threats directed at the State of Israel come from Iran, Syria and Hizbullah. For the first time, our enemies abroad are directing devastating weapons at our civilian population instead of preparing to battle our armed forces. For the first time, instead of seeking to capture territory, they plan to use missiles and rockets to destroy civilian population centers and strategic assets. Post-modern war is devoid of any moral values. It consists of terrorist states employing a cruel strategy of terrorism. A conservative army, built for an old and vanished type of war, is not qualified to meet this threat. Post-modern warfare compels us to develop new forces that are flexible, mobile and precise. Only such units will be able to find and destroy missile launchers and rocket warehouses, and the soldiers and terrorists who operate them. A careful analysis of various scenarios leads to the conclusion that we should avoid capturing ground in neighboring countries. Most objectives should be met by employing forces similar to the US Special Operation Command, and air power. Therefore, the IDF needs desperately a commander in chief who has been tested in commanding aerial operations, a commander who is familiar with the drawbacks and capabilities of air power, and who can initiate and lead new tactics and strategies. There is no IAF commander who can replace Halutz at this grave time. Therefore, his duty to safeguard Israel's national security should have prevented him from resigning. I hope that the next head of the IDF will be smart enough to nominate an air force general as his deputy. Dr. Shmuel L. Gordon, a colonel (res.) in the IAF, heads the Technology and National Security program at the Holon Institute of Technology. He is an expert on national security, air warfare and counterterrorism.

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