IDF chief of staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot .
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Preparing Israel for a sudden outbreak of war has been the top priority of IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot since he took up his post in February 2015.
Eisenkot’s second priority has been to bridge the gap between Israeli society and the military brass. This stems from concerns of growing public alienation from the traditional concept of a people’s army.
Eisenkot, 56, views anger at career service members who have been painted by some commentators as exploiters of public funds rather than personnel who serve national security around the clock as a major internal threat to the IDF’s future. He is also concerned by the prospect of future generations viewing the IDF draft as optional.
In August 2015, Eisenkot did something no chief of staff did before him: He released to the general public a version of the IDF’s new written strategy to deal with the considerable threats to Israeli security in the first quarter of the 21st century. The move represented an attempt to both prepare the armed forces for the unpredictable future, which looks set to be explosive in the years to come, and bring the general public closer to the IDF by providing it with a transparent view into the thinking and assessments among members of the General Staff.
Eisenkot believes Israel is currently experiencing a quiet period that should be used to prioritize training for conscripts and reserves, and to place war readiness at the top of the military’s agenda. The plethora of hybrid sub-state terrorist entities on Israel’s borders cannot be counted on to keep the peace forever, and the power of deterrence, as the past has shown, tends to run out.
In an age in which tactical incidents can rapidly snowball into full-scale conflict, and with Israel’s enemies set to receive a boost from a wealthier, sanctions-free Iran, Eisenkot has taken advantage of this quiet to prepare. He has argued that future chiefs of staff will face significantly more complex, difficult times. The steps he is taking now will help decide whether Israel is to be ready for the next storm or caught unprepared and left scrambling for answers.
Eisenkot’s determined focus and organized approach mean the answer is likely to be the former..