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October 24, 2007


The New Battle Strategy in Israel

Creating Effective Missile Defense Systems

By C. Hart | October 24, 2007

“Syria is the largest chemical superpower in the Middle East,” according to Major General (Res.) Yaacov Amidror, who addressed an audience of Israeli government and industry military experts at a missile defense forum in Jerusalem on Monday, October 22, 2007. Considered the first public forum of its kind to happen in Israel, speakers addressed the critical need for missile defense for Israel’s national security. The meeting was sponsored by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) and the Israel Missile Defense Association (IMDA).

Amidror, who is one of JCPA’s Program Directors, gave scenarios of the potential battles Israel faces in the future, asking the rhetorical question of how the IDF will deploy itself. Speaking of the dangers Israel faces from its Syrian neighbor, Amidror said mid-range Syrian rockets threaten Israel’s northern region, including the home front and the IDF. “We have not gone through one war where the IDF needed defense before the war,” he admitted. But, Amidror said, now the IDF needs defense on strategic bases.

The Syrian army is supplying itself with large amounts of missiles, and he believes that Syria could accomplish in hours what it took Hizballah 33 days to accomplish during the 2006 Second Lebanon War. At that time, Israel was barraged with rockets fired from Lebanon, with no way of stopping the terrorist army from hitting northern Israeli populations.

According to Amidror, short, medium and long range rocket fire is problematic for Israel, and each stratum imposes threats, especially the heavier rockets from Syria, including Scuds with chemical warheads. He stated that if the IDF cannot remove the missiles then the army will have no other choice but to control the area, implying much greater use of ground forces in a potential conflict threatening the Jewish state.

Today, the missile threat against Israel hits at the very core of its defense needs, according to military experts. Palestinian terror groups and Hamas continue to attack Israel with short range Kassam rockets launched from Gaza, reaching Israel’s border towns and the western Negev. These rockets can be carried on someone’s back. The power of the rocket is in the ability of a terrorist to shift it around and fire it from anywhere. Hizballah launched the similar Katyusha rockets from Lebanon last summer, as well as longer-range missiles that hit deep into the northern part of Israel. Hizballah, Syria and Iran say they now have rockets that can reach any part of the country.

Amidror believes that in future wars, much of Israel’s home front will spend time in bomb shelters. Regions will be evacuated. There will be a potential for many casualties if heavier long-range missiles fall, and if people are not evacuated in time. The home front could become the focus. Since the IDF is a small army, turning its efforts towards the home front could result in the IDF being away from the main action on the battlefield. This would be a potentially serious problem for Israel.

So, why has Israel not been more prepared?

Yoash Tsiddon-Chatto, Chief of Operations and Planning for Israel’s Air Force (the IAF) on the eve of the Six Day War, said, “It’s a matter of concepts.” Speaking to ThreatsWatch, he admitted that Israel’s defense forces knew the Katyusha’s were in Hizballah’s arsenal for a long time. “But, the idea was, let the Katyusha’s rest. Since they didn’t use them they will probably not use them, and we have other priorities and budget restrictions and so forth. The IDF didn’t do anything. Unfortunately, we react more than we act... You always fight the last war not the next war.”

Now that Israel has learned from its mistakes during the Second Lebanon War, missile defense systems are being perfected to defend the home front against all ranges of rockets. But, it is the shorter range rocket attacks that Israel has not been able to respond to effectively. Israeli officials are now considering what technologies exist elsewhere along with budgetary considerations. In the meantime, according to military analysts, current rocket attacks have put the state in a strategic corner, and with no immediate solution, there could be an erosion of public trust in the government and military.

Amidror pointed out that in the Middle East, there is a constant existential threat to Israel of missile attacks. In an interview with ThreatsWatch, he explained, “If the state of Israel will be under missile and rocket fire from all around; from Iran and the long-range; Hizballah and others on the front; it will be a situation in which to bring the civilians from home; to mobilize them; and to bring them to their bases. Then, to move them into the front will be more complicated that in the past.”

And, what if there is a pre-emptive strike by Israel against a hostile neighbor, like Syria? “The pre-emptive strike I think probably will be made by the air force; and the air force is not dependent on any mobilization. The air force is strong enough to do it with permanent forces.”
Amidror was adamant that if Israel fights a conventional war with Syria in the future, the only legitimate targets are political and military. Under no circumstances should Israel fire missiles indiscriminately on Damascus, hurting the population. “If we have targets which are legitimate targets inside Damascus, we shall destroy them immediately... I think that civilians are not legitimate targets for the state of Israel in the case of war. To launch missiles into Damascus, without having any clear target, but to kill Syrians, I think that morally, Israel should not do it.”

Asked about a scenario where Syria might launch a pre-emptive strike against Israel using a missile with a chemical warhead, Amidror responded, “What I talked about is conventional, and we should not be the first to move it from conventional to non-conventional. If the Syrian’s or others will use non-conventional mass destruction systems, it is a totally different story.”

As Israeli military experts deal with threats and responses from the perspective of Israel’s national security needs, missile defense becomes a strategic consideration on the IDF agenda. It may be a bit late in the game, but Israel is now focused on advanced defense operations against a full range of threats. The IDF continues to plan battlefront scenarios to assure the state’s national security will never again be in jeopardy.

Meanwhile, the unprecedented proliferation of missiles in the Middle East is cause for other nations around the world to work together, addressing the critical priority for comprehensive, accurate, and cost effective missile defense systems that will meet today’s growing global security needs.

C. Hart writes for ThreatsWatch from Jerusalem, Israel.

October 10, 2007

United States of America

The Domestic Intelligence Imperative

Something is wrong when sharing requires breaking the law

By Michael Tanji | October 10, 2007

Driven to desperation by restrictive information sharing rules, and concerned about the terrorist threat to their homes and loved ones, at least five American intelligence officers established a domestic espionage ring. The target of their actions: the federal government. The beneficiary of their actions: Los Angeles. How has it come to this, that otherwise patriotic and loyal citizens feel compelled to work against their government in order to serve and protect their communities?

Testimony by former Gunnery Sgt. Gary Maziarz, who received a 26 month prison sentence for his cooperation with federal prosecutors, revealed that his colleagues in the reserve military intelligence community were using their occasional access to national-level intelligence on terrorism to support their day jobs: countering terrorism at the local government level. One member of the ring works in the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and the other in the LAPD. Maziarz, then an intelligence analyst at Camp Pendleton, was invaluable to the ring because of his ability to regularly access national intelligence databases and pass a steady stream of information to his accomplices on terrorism suspects in the LA area.

There is no shortage of press reports about the intelligence community’s efforts to improve information sharing amongst its various components as well as state and local security organizations. Improved information sharing was a goal of intelligence reform legislation and a variety of policy, procedure and technology efforts within the community are trying to make sharing more efficient and effective. It has not been reported what efforts if any the spy ring might have taken to work within the system to get terrorism intelligence held by national agencies down to the city-level. However, it is likely that seasoned intelligence professionals (at least two members of the spy ring were Colonels) at least tried to work through official channels.We are left to assume that an honest effort was made, but that the results were less than optimal.

The importance of sharing intelligence information both horizontally among peers and vertically among those working different levels of the same intelligence problem cannot be overstated. No one agency has the complete picture of what is going on in the world. Masters of the big-picture are often woefully ignorant of details on the ground; those working the nitty-gritty of problem often toil in ignorance over what role their work plays in the larger scheme of things. The members of this spy ring, and many others like them, stand astride both worlds and realize how vast these gaps are. They understand how useful national resources can be once turned on foreign infiltrators and domestic traitors, but their actions have likely set back the cause of sharing more than it might have helped it.

All of our intelligence capabilities are employed for naught if the information they produce does not get into the hands of those who can best use it. Under the compartmentalization system in the foreign intelligence environment (the practice of keeping discrete parts of a larger effort separate so that only a few people had the full picture of any given program) you could be assured that those operating at the highest levels were making the most informed decisions. Any appearance of inaction or confusion about a strategic move was merely the result of security-enforced ignorance. That this nation has never had a domestic intelligence capability means that our national security leadership is ill-equipped to operate in the domain. Consequently, we cannot assume with any confidence that the lack of sharing is the result of a conscious decision to keep certain people out of the loop. The odds are better that information is not getting to the right place because a) the person that has it does not know the entirety of those who should receive it or b) those that need it have no way of knowing what to ask for or if it even exists.

Most of these problems could be solved or at least alleviated with the establishment of a true, independent domestic intelligence agency. Such an agency could operate with new, effective and legally acceptable policies and procedures to ensure that we can monitor those we need to and avoid infringing the rights of innocents. A new agency would also establish a new culture that is more attuned to the domestic mission and not encumbered by the foreign-intelligence mindset that is used to holding everyone – even sister agencies – at arm’s length.

Having a single place to go for information about the domestic threat would greatly simplify and speed information sharing efforts. Currently a major metro police department like Los Angeles might have separate relationships with the CIA, DEA, FBI, NSA, DHS, and various Pentagon elements. Each agency has its own policy and procedure for sharing information, communications channels, delivery mechanisms and security restrictions. Data may also be delivered in formats that are incompatible with local databases or analytical software, adding an additional layer of complexity; lengthening the time analysts need to make sense of the information they are provided, and shortening the time officers can respond to threats.

A single domestic agency is also likely to mean a more open environment in which goals and strategies can be discussed and disagreement arbitrated. Having a single forum for addressing these issues can only help improve understanding between largely incompatible cultures of intelligence and law enforcement. Cops have to understand that one arrest now could mean missing out on the chance to make ten arrests later; spooks have to appreciate the tactile, personal and deadly operating environment in which cops operate.

A dedicated domestic intelligence capability is a necessity that is long overdue. If things hold true to form we are likely to suffer another attack on the homeland before the widespread realization sets in that bloated and ill-conceived measures like the Department of Homeland Security are not the answer to our domestic security woes. A domestic intelligence capability is a hard sell, but the threats are real and the risks of not having such a capability exceedingly high. That we lack the political will to attempt to solve this problem before it is too late speaks more ill of those who chose not to change the system, than of those who felt compelled to break it.

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