Outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi’s plan to turn Israel’s military into a technology and innovation hub has resulted in the IDF being run into the ground and its combat soldiers becoming willfully unprepared, an unnamed military official told KAN Reshet Bet in an interview on Sunday.
“We are on the brink of having minimal troops facing more complex threats than anything we have experienced in recent years,” the senior officer said. “Israel may face a heavy campaign combined with internal challenges in which every combat soldier will be relevant and his shortcomings will be felt.”
The officer heavily criticized Kohavi’s December announcement that Israel had struck Iranian arms convoys along the Syrian-Iraqi border, asking what the point of the announcement had been if “the enemy doesn’t know that we attacked the eighth truck?”
The eighth truck was a reference to Kohavi’s statement that Israel had “perfect intelligence” to hit “truck No. 8” out of a 25-truck caravan, because it knew that this truck was the one containing Iranian weapons.
“With all the importance of the attacks in Syria where we are ‘heroes,’ in Lebanon they are quietly setting up factories, continuing to manufacture and build precision rockets and long-range missiles and we do not react,” the officer said. “When they have precision rockets in their hands, it will be a different war.”
Later in the interview, the officer turned his attention to what he referred to as the plan to turn the IDF into “a hi-tech company,” which he said Kohavi implemented during his time as chief of staff.
The IDF’s Momentum multi-year plan, called Tnufa in Hebrew, was founded with the intention of transforming the military into a “deadly, efficient and innovative” one, with the renewed offensive initiative, particularly with creative technologies relating to artificial intelligence, robots, drones and more.
The focus on hi-tech and innovation has all come “at the expense of the ground forces, which will determine the outcome on the battlefield,” the official told Reshet Bet.
The officer also criticized the decision not to employ the use of IDF ground troops during Operation Guardian of the Wall in 2021.
“We planned on hundreds of dead terrorists. It could have been a strategic victory,” he said. “We saved it [the ground invasion] for war, but in the end it was decided not to bring in troops. They were afraid of endangering soldiers who were prepared with all the protective equipment.”
The Guardian of the Walls operation was one of the first times that Kohavi’s Tnufa project was put to the test.
An IDF Intelligence Corps senior officer said at the time that, “for the first time, artificial intelligence was a key component and power multiplier in fighting the enemy. This is a first-of-its-kind campaign for the IDF. We implemented new methods of operation and used technological developments that were a force multiplier for the entire IDF.”
Responding to the officer’s radio interview, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit issued a statement saying that, “the allegations do not reflect the situation in the IDF. Some of them are wrong, and others are devoid of any foundation.”