Analysis: Old warriors don't always know best

Our veteran generals, who deserve respect, are erroneously trying to move the IDF backwards.

N.Gaza tank 298 88 (photo credit: AP)
N.Gaza tank 298 88
(photo credit: AP)
On Friday, a group of generals, veterans of the IDF, intend to meet the chief of General Staff. Some of them have declared publicly that they will recommend he resign. They believe the IDF should halt its programs of modernization, should delay plans to introduce new hi-tech systems and weapons, and should cancel adoption of new strategies and tactics. In other words, they prefer a conservative, low-tech army that would be similar in many ways to those of World War II. Most of the generals ended their military careers 15 to 20 years ago and haven't served in the reserves since. Their military experience was acquired in the Yom Kippur War in 1973 and the Lebanon War in 1982 - ground wars that are obsolete as examples for commanders of existing conflicts. We should realize that experience of the past doesn't always enhance judgment and analysis of revolutionary changes in the realm of war. This group of veteran generals, which deserves respect for its admirable past, is erroneously trying to compel the currently highly vulnerable IDF to move back to a world that has justifiably vanished. Ground Forces Command has already begun its own revolution. The Armored Corps - which a famous general once nicknamed "Queen of the Battlefield" - abandoned its "royal" status years ago. Special operations forces are inheriting this position, and will become the decisive ground force in the next generation of conflicts and wars. Special operations forces will play increasingly dominant roles in confronting most of the terrorist organizations and nations, from al-Qaida to Iran. This is the next revolution of ground forces, after the introduction of tanks in WWI. But it is sensitive to bureaucratic maneuvers and rivalry among the traditional main elements of the ground forces. The special operations forces should be developed into an independent service with full authority and responsibility for their own training, research and development, and command in battle. This is their future, this is our future. Armored divisions will, in future, bear most of the responsibility for defense of borders and civilians. Offensive missions will be directed to a certain mix of intelligence, air power and special operations forces. They will be interlaced into a winning task force. The unhappy group of generals is correct in its conclusion that the IDF will not gain medals for its performances and achievements in the last war. But a great many debriefings and studies are needed before useful conclusions can be drawn. The IDF doesn't need conservative and obsolete recommendations from its high-ranking veterans. It needs support, but also constructive criticism to carry out the necessary revolutionary changes in a smooth fashion.