Op-Ed: Tillerson is the emerging threat to Israel
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Op-Ed: Israel’s forgotten tragic lessons of historyStephen Hughes claims that the inequality in sharing the burden of Israel’s national security, compounded by mounting cognitive dissonance, could lead to catastrophic events. From military service rejection to the number of recruits in combat service, personnel are rapidly declining; combat soldiers are becoming a kind of a volunteer force.
No country today or in the last 100 years has such crucial security, defense and armed forces requirements as the tiny State of Israel. Israel is an island surrounded by an ocean of genocidal hatred hell-bent on its destruction. Just how many defensive wars has Israel had to fight to stop another Holocaust?
During the Iraq dictatorship era of Saddam Hussein, every Israeli man, woman, and child had to have a protective gas mask because of the Iraqi threat of chemical warfare. Iran alone has spent several billion dollars with its asymmetrical proxy wars against Israel through Hezbollah, Hamas and other terrorist organizations. Thousands of rockets have been fired into Israel by the hidden hand of Tehran. Israel has an ever-escalating threat environment of cyber, land, sea and underground tunnel assaults.
Direfully, much of the Israeli populace and the political and military echelons have immersed themselves in a soft blanket of complacency to the genocidal threats. This Israeli cognitive dissonance is far worse than the pre-1973 Yom Kippur War time period- when Knesset and military leaders lived in an atmosphere of arrogance, believing the Arabs would not go to war because they could not strategically fight and win. Few intelligence agencies in history had so much valuable information about their enemies before a war as Israel did in 1972.
The mountains of intelligence showing the enormous build-up of the Egyptian and Syrian armies were tragically ignored. For example, Egyptian Scud missiles, advanced Soviet surface-to-air defense missiles (SAM) batteries, mobile rocket artillery were making their way to the region. Aircraft-launched cruise missiles used in the opening rounds destroyed strategic military facilities and bases. IDF armored forces faced modern Soviet hand-carried AT-3 Sagger anti-tank missiles. In just four days of the war, Israel had lost 49 warplanes and 500 tanks. In the Sinai alone, the Egyptian troops destroyed 110 helicopters and aircraft, about a quarter of Israel’s air power.
The Valley of Tears was the name given to an area in the Golan Heights after it became the site of a crucial battle in 1973. Horrible losses were suffered, epitomized by the obliteration of the Golan 188th Barak Brigade. Damascus fielded five divisions for its attack: two armored and three mechanized infantry, including some 1,400 tanks. Approximately 400 of those tanks were T-62s, the most modern Soviet-bloc tank at the time, equipped with a 115mm smoothbore gun and infrared night-fighting capability. The Israeli forces in the Golan were 170 tanks and 60 artillery pieces divided between the 7th and the Barak brigades.
When IAF aircraft responded to the Damascus onslaught, many were shot down or damaged by the Syrians’ Soviet dense anti-aircraft systems umbrella. With the help of Soviet advisers, Syria created an air defense network over the Golan, which exceeded the one protecting Hanoi during the US-Vietnam War! With their air support thus limited, Israeli tanks still stood their ground and were knocked out one by one. Pushed beyond their limits, IDF defenses in the southern sector broke. Luckily, Syrian halted its advance giving time for IDF reserves and equipment to reach the Golan Heights and push back the Syrian military.
Much of the 1973 Yom Kippur War is still classified. Facing defeat, Prime Minister Meir and Moshe Dayan discussed using the country’s nuclear arsenal- at least 13 bombs deliverable via Jericho missiles. However, Meir turned to American help. President Nixon and his national security adviser Henry Kissinger realized that the defeat of Israel by a Soviet-armed Egypt and Syria would be a geopolitical catastrophe and thus $2.2 billion emergency military aid was approved. The US Air Force airlifted some 22,000 tons of jet aircraft, tanks, ammunition and other equipment to Israel. Even more, materiel arrived by sea. The US support was an essential tipping point for Israel winning the 1973 war.
However, the Yom Kippur War claimed the lives of 2,569 IDF soldiers and left 7,500 wounded. In total, the IAF paid a ghastly price of 53 pilots killed, 44 captured, 102 planes shot down out of 317 aircraft and 830 tanks destroyed.
Never before has Israel faced such a complicated labyrinth of international perils.
Israel’s Golan Heights is facing an unprecedented buildup of Tehran’s military and its allied proxy forces in Syria. Tehran is forging a Shiite crescent, an uninterrupted land bridge directly from Iran to the Mediterranean Sea spanning across Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Sinai is erupting with rocket attacks and an ever-expanding radical jihadist war, which Egypt can barely contain.
There is ominous emerging germination of inexpensive technological advanced weapon systems such as precision-guided rocket artillery to cruise missiles, UAVs, submarine drones in the region. ISIS in Syria has dramatically used cheap drones to delivery bombs with deadly results.
Israel walks an economic tightrope of ever-spiraling demands for defense and security expenditures. Currently, some 300 million dollars is being spent to stop the Hamas tunnel assault networks into Israeli communities.
Mandatory military service is critical for the survival of the State of Israel. Those who do want to serve in the military should be placed in in jobs that would free up military forces to help keep down spiraling economic costs of defense. Conscription creates a more equitable sharing of the burden of state security.
It appears Israel is being eclipsed by an anosognosia that is crippling the hearts and minds, leaving them oblivious to the dangerous world they live in.
Stephen E Hughes spent 13 years with the U.S. Army. Half of Hughes’ time in the military was spent overseas. Hughes is currently the Association of Geo-Strategic Analysis CEO and the author of several books concerning Iran and the Middle East.
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