IDF Ground Arm Upgrades Combat Capabilities vs. Disappearing Enemy

In view of the new character of the enemy, the IDF is currently introducing extensive organizational and operational revisions. Maj. Gen. Kobi Barak, Commander of the IDF Ground Arm, presented the new trends at the Israel Defense annual Fire, Maneuvering & Intelligence Conference

Maj. Gen. Kobi Barak, Commander of the IDF Ground Arm (Photo: Gilad Kavalerchik)

In his address at the Israel Defense annual Fire, Maneuvering & Intelligence Conference, Maj. Gen. Kobi Barak, Commander of the IDF Ground Arm, described the future ground maneuver as an element of the future combined-arms land warfare. He also addressed the extensive organizational and operational revisions currently being introduced by the IDF in view of the new character of the enemy. The conference takes place between May 15 and May 16 at the Tel-Aviv Convention Center.

According to Maj. Gen. Barak, the enemy forces currently facing the IDF are decentralized, invisible and effectively concealed. An enemy force may be located in a fourth-floor apartment on a city street. Today's enemy is a disappearing enemy. Accordingly, these days an IDF company commander must operate within four new dimensions with which long-serving IDF commanders and troopers are not familiar. The first new dimension is the subterranean dimension and the second new dimension is the ground dimension, namely – the enemy in the city streets. The third dimension is the one above the ground but close to the ground, where the drones operate, and the fourth dimension involves cyberwarfare at the battalion level.

The Commander of the IDF Ground Arm explained that the current process includes numerous changes in the IDF ground forces. Some of these changes are currently undergoing trials. Examples: the future brigade task force will consist of an armored brigade and an infantry brigade, under the new designation "ground brigade" – three ground battalions, a reconnaissance battalion, a combat engineering battalion, a brigade HQ and logistics elements. A future tank platoon will consist of two tanks rather than three, because, among other reasons – the third tank will not be able to negotiate the narrow streets of a city or a village. As far as command and digital systems are concerned – in the future, the IDF/GHQ cloud and ground cloud will be merged into a single operational Internet network. As far as the armored vehicle category is concerned, fast, mobile, agile wheeled armored vehicles will be employed. The brigade commander will have at his disposal a trailer where ground and air force officers will operate jointly, as the sector boundaries assigned to the brigade will include the aerial medium. Robotic and autonomous systems will dominate the battlefield: a robotic advance guard and a logistic 'tail' made up of autonomous robotic vehicles. Every area within the theater of operations will be covered by a grid of ground-based and aerial sensors, including Radar, ElInt, and ComInt sensors. The signals picked up by the sensors will be processed and used to enable prompt, accurate fire response.

Maj. Gen. (res.) Eyal Eisenberg, formerly the Commander of the IDF Home Front Command, asserted in his address that the Israeli home front is not ready for a future war involving the home front, and that each one of the various home front organizations "is pulling the blanket in its own direction." The enemy in the north has an arsenal of 100,000 rockets and missiles, and the civilian solution for the home front must be a systemic one, as "The civilians will be under fire. It already happened during Operation Protective Edge. Today the enemy understands and estimates that they should undermine the operational continuity of the home front and destroy Israeli targets in order to exert pressure on the leadership. For this reason, the national security concept consists of the pillars (principles) of deterrence (prevention of a confrontation), early warning, decision, overbalance and an additional defensive pillar (the Arrow, David's Sling and Iron Dome systems and other resources)."

Col. (res.) Boaz Cohen, VP Land & C4I Systems at Elbit Systems, spoke about medium and long-range tactical fire support. "The current challenges are closing the loops promptly, avoiding collateral damage and prompt real-time decision making. We currently possess the abilities required in order to generate targets quickly using various methods. A target may consist of an individual vehicle that should be destroyed or a single launcher. Today, a transition is underway toward automatic and autonomous guns, a turret that fires without a human element in the loop. Today, each artillery unit has the firepower that a whole artillery battery had in the past. The Hanit 120mm tactical mortar system is the only system of its kind worldwide – a completely mobile artillery unit. Automation improves accuracy and enables personnel savings."

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