Not all of the failures of the Lebanon war started with Olmert. As far back as 2001 the Israeli Army identified the smuggling tunnels as a threat to security they even awarded a contract to a vendor to implement a system to identify these tunnels. For some reason the system was never implemented. Also in 2001 the IDF Identified potential rocket fire from Gaza as a security issue…again nothing was implemented. The report below from GeoStrategy Direct takes a look at those issues from a military perspective along with the issue of conducting a war solely with air power-how Israel missed the boat and what she is doing to fix these issues.
Report: Israel failed to take rocket, tunnel threats seriously JERUSALEM — Successive Israeli governments have ignored the Palestinian missile and weapons tunnel threat despite thousands of attacks, an official report found. A report by Israel´s State Comptroller determined that governments waited at least five years to respond to the Palestinian missile threat. The report said more than 6,000 missiles, rockets and mortars had been fired against Israeli targets until January 2007, when the government awarded a contract to develop a defense system. The Iron Dome prototype by the state-owned Rafael, Israel Armament Development Authority is expected to take at least two years to complete. The Rafael design bested several other proposals, including that of a U.S.-origin laser weapon. The report said the Israeli military failed to draft a strategy to combat rocket and missile strikes. After several years of Palestinian attacks, the military ordered rocket defense system prototypes without determining requirements or conducting sufficient field trials, the comptroller said. From 2001 through 2006, 4,584 mortars and 1,914 rockets were fired against Israeli targets, the military said. More than 1,200 missiles and rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip since the Israeli withdrawal in September 2005. The military identified a missile threat from the Gaza Strip in 2001, the report said, but the chief of staff waited until 2004 to study the threat, and by the end of 2005 had failed to draft strategy. In 2005 the military´s Southern Command installed an unidentified system by Rafael to intercept short-range missiles fired from the Gaza Strip. The system, termed “A,” was said to have been partially successful, and two batteries were ordered at a cost of 22 million shekels or about $5.5 million. “The dealings between Rafael and the [Defense Ministry´s] Research and Development Directorate to develop a prototype of ´System A´ and its deployment were conducted without technical contacts that defined the project requirements, capabilities, trials and safety,” stated the report. “As a result, development of the prototype was delayed.” The report said the military also deployed a missile detection system before the completion of trials and the drafting of requirements. The system was eventually deemed unreliable. The military was also said to have ignored the threat of Palestinian weapons smuggling and explosive tunnels for nearly 20 years. In 2001, the military received nine proposals to develop systems to detect tunnels. A selected system, termed “A,” was never completed. “Not one of the tunnel detection and location systems matured to the point of full-scale development and equipping,” stated the report. “There were prolonged recesses in development of System A, the reasons for which were unclear.” [On May 10, a war commission released transcripts of testimony in which Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz said Defense Minister Amir Peretz was too preoccupied with political tasks to understand the security threats to Israel. Halutz said he realized he would have a more difficult task with Peretz who, unlike his predecessors, did not come from the military. Between 2001 and 2004, seven soldiers were killed from Palestinian tunnels filled with explosives constructed under Israeli military outposts in the Gaza Strip. In June 2006, two Israeli soldiers were killed and a third was abducted when Palestinian fighters emerged from a tunnel that reached an Israeli military base. In 2004, a recommendation to Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Moshe Ya´alon called for the establishment of a unit to draft options to resolve the tunnel threat. The recommendation was ignored. The military said development plans were hampered by budget shortfalls. A statement said the General Staff had examined plans for rocket defense and tunnel detection. “Budget cuts and delays in receiving approval have made it difficult to formulate a long-term plan for the formation of an Israel Defense Forces unit, particularly regarding the prevention of high trajectory fire,” a military statement said. Air Force eats humble pie: ´Joint war is vital´ TEL AVIV — For the first time in more than a decade, the Israel air force has expressed interest in expanding operations with the army for both conventional and counter-insurgency missions. The air force, following last year´s the failed war with Lebanon, has concluded that it cannot maintain the operational burden it shouldered during the 34-day military campaign against Hizbullah. They said the air force wants to work with ground forces to attack enemy territory and destroy assets. “The joint war is vital,” said Brig. Gen. Amir Eshel, air force chief of staff. In an address to an air warfare conference on May 9, Eshel appeared to back away from the long-standing claim that the air force was capable of conducting wide scale operations or even a war without the army. That claim was tested in the war against Hizbullah when massive air strikes failed to stop the Iranian-sponsored militia from firing 4,500 rockets into Israel. A government-appointed commission investigating the Israeli war in Lebanon criticized the conduct of military commanders, particularly Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz. A key finding was that Halutz, a former air force commander, believed that the war against Hizbullah could be won without a ground invasion. As a result, the air force conducted tens of thousands of missions and fired munitions at unconfirmed Hizbullah targets. By the third week of the war, the air force had depleted virtually all of its smart munitions and most of general-purpose bombs. “The only way to fight Hizbullah is to find them,” [Res.] Col. Dror Ben-David, a former F-15I squadron commander, told a conference, sponsored by the Fisher Brothers Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies. “This means you have to create friction so that they come out. You can only do this with ground forces.” Ben-David said the military requires enhanced radar and other intelligence assets. A former chief of munitions, he envisioned the development of radar that could detect missile and rocket bunkers as well as tunnels. The air force chief of staff agreed. Eshel said that during the Lebanon war, the service went from attacking large targets to searching for mobile short-range Katyusha rockets. Eshel said the air force also supported the participation of infantry and armored units in the low-intensity conflict against Palestinian insurgents in the Gaza Strip. He said 70 percent of all insurgency casualties stemmed from air-ground operations. At the same time, Eshel said the air force would not abandon efforts to become capable of solely controlling enemy territory. But he said such a goal would require enhanced intelligence systems and air platforms. “I was very cautious about this, but we should not abandon this,” Eshel said. “There´s no question” that we could control territory from the air, he said. (Copyright © 2007 East West Services, Inc. 05/25/07)