The Next War

Roy Tov — Oct 12, 2013

Generals are seldom paid for having been creative;+ how many of their own soldiers they have killed would show a better correlation with their salary. Thus, their public speeches tend to be boring. Unending reviews of the threats drier than the Bolivian dehydrated llama fetuses sold in La Paz’ Witches Market. On October 11, 2013, the IDF Chief of Staff surprised with what has already been categorized as “the most important public speech of his term.”

The event took place at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, in the Bar Ilan University campus near Tel Aviv. His review of the current events was reduced to a paragraph and then Lieutenant General Benny Gantz started to describe the next war in what looked as an improvised speech.

Busy with a massive redeployment of the IDF,++ General Gantz probably arrived at the civilian forum unprepared. He didn’t have a review of current threats ready; thus he delivered what he was working in at that moment. The army deployment is closely related to the expectations from the next war. “Civilians buy everything,” he told himself. Yet, the cheap trick turned out being significant.

Up to this point he could have solved the issue by sending a corporal to deliver the text; the latter can surprise in their capabilities. Yet, from this point the speech broke the tired patterns of mass-distraction favored by the Israeli Administration.

Gantz claimed that the surrounding countries are breaking up into secondary components, existing “at a sub-state level but possessing significant operational capabilities.”

He summarized this part of the analysis by providing a generous déjà vu to the period in which Ehud Barak served as Chief of Staff; both had declared deep reforms in the IDF.* “In these conditions, Israel will have to judge its neighbors and its adversaries not by their declarations and intentions, but by their deeds and the outcomes they produce. That is, it must apply the test of actions, not of nice-sounding abstractions.” “The Test of Actions,” is Ehud Barak’s favorite phrase. This linkage added an ominous touch to the rest of the speech.


“The high friction with the enemy and the uncertainty will persist, but a gradual change in the modes of combat will take place. The IDF will confront an enemy possessing advanced capability, decentralized and camouflaged, and operating from within a civilian population,” he said.

“I would like to tell you about the first morning of the war that the Chief of Staff of the future will face. At present, he might still be a division commander. In another 10 years, or maybe in two or three years, he will open his eyes at 4AM after not many hours of sleep, after receiving a call from his bureau chief.

“What will he be told? The next campaign could open with a precisely fired missile that will hit the General Staff building in the heart of the Kirya (Ministry of Defense and IDF HQ in downtown Tel Aviv); with a cyber-attack that will cripple everyday services, from traffic lights to banking; with the detonation of a bomb in a kindergarten by means of a booby-trapped underground tunnel; or with a mass charge of Arabs at an Israeli locale adjacent to a border.”

Oddly, the scenario that he described is too detailed and was presented as the only option. Did he disclose a false flag order of battle?

He spoke of a terrorist attack on the Golan Heights, where, after almost 40 years of total quiet, the border is now violent and unstable. In the scenario that he presented, an explosive device will be activated and an antitank missile will be fired at an Israeli patrol along the border; similar to the event that triggered the 2006 War with Hezbollah. “Three soldiers will be abducted, one of them a battalion commander. A jihadist organization will take responsibility for the event. As in 2006, an attack in one sector will enflame most of Israel’s borders in an immediate multiple-arena campaign.

“For its part, Hezbollah will fire volleys of rockets into Galilee, and jihadist organizations will continue trying to penetrate from the Golan. The accuracy of the missiles will be greatly improved, Gantz added, and if Hezbollah chooses to hit a specific target almost anywhere in Israel, it will have the capability to do so. Volleys of rockets will strike Eilat. Hundreds of Hamas activists will try to overrun IDF checkpoints on the border with Gaza.

“Along with the border battles, which will also have serious implications for the Israeli civilian rear, a vast cybernetic war will rage that will affect not only the military but also the civilian systems. It will be an almost transparent war, the chief of staff noted, as media on both sides will cover it intensively in real time.”


“In some cases, the firepower we will face will not permit a full distinction [to be made] between civilians and terrorists, and that blurring will be expressed operationally in undesirable results, which, regrettably, constitute an integral element of war,” he said announcing that the policy of the IDF allowing the attack of unarmed civilians will continue. A Serbian general issuing a similar statement probably would have been politely shown the way to the International Court of Justice; but Israel is above the law.

The false flag order of battle conjecture presented above was supported by later comments in the Hebrew media. The speech was an abridged and declassified version of a document he recently drew up and circulated to the IDF commanders; it was entitled “The IDF in 2025.” Indeed, it was just a cheap trick.

The final part emphasized defensive systems and the further computerization of the army. He underlined the need to reinforce cyber-defenses protective systems for vehicles such as the “trench coat” for Merkava tanks, as well as antimissiles systems. This while preserving the IDF’s ground-maneuver ability.

In his speech, Gantz referred to the outbreak of war as a fact, with only its timing remaining unknown.

It is remarkable that he ignored the role of Iran. Was this front of the next war in the classified section of “The IDF in 2025?” Or was it due to the simple fact that Israel doesn’t have any answer to the firing of what both countries—Iran and Israel—agree that amounts to many dozens of thousands of missiles aimed at Israel? The day after the next war we will know.


+ In 2006, Israel was defeated in Lebanon. The army commander back then was Dan Halutz, an air force officer. It is unusual for a “blue” (someone from the air force in Hebrew slang) to reach such a position. Halutz held back the “greens” (ground forces) during the operation because he didn’t trust them and sent the air force ahead. It was a disaster. The fact that in the morning of the attack he found time to contact his broker and sell his stocks in the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange didn’t help to his public image. He left the army humiliated.

++ See IDF Begins Redeployment Plan with an Attack on Lebanon.

* Ehud Barak was IDF Chief of Staff between 1991 and 1995. Having served as soldier, officer and commander of Sayeret Matkal, the army’s top commando unit, he was the first Chief of Staff with enough power to tackle the Princes. While entering office he promised to transform the IDF into a “small and smart” army. When he left, the IDF was larger, fatter, and definitely not smarter.
Yet, he made order in the commando units scene, his monster-baby. Until he arrived, high quality infantry brigades were controlled directly from the large Commands (North, Central and South) instead of being part of a regular division. Commando units could be found randomly placed in the army’s hierarchy, with Sayeret Matkal being controlled directly by the General Command Headquarters (the Matkal).
Media reports on the structure of IDF commando and reconnaissance units (adding to the confusion, both enter under the Hebrew term “sayeret,” which can be loosely translated as “wanderer”) are fuzzy due to the intentional operative matrix, adopted by these. These units overlap in their capabilities, adding flexibility to the General Command in their use. Barak kept this functionality but changed the chain of command. For example, Infantry Brigade #1, Golani, was downgraded from the North Command to Division 36 on the Golan Heights. Beyond adding order, it added confusion to media reports.

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