Head of IDF colleges: Definition of victory has changed

Maj. Gen. Yossi Baidatz

Maj. Gen. Yossi Baidatz at conference dedicated to former Chief of Staff: “The adversary is of an entirely different sort from that of the past”

Date: 24/01/2013, 3:19 PM     Author: Noam Witman and Yiftach Carmeli

Maj. Gen. Yossi Baidatz, Commander of the IDF (Zahal) Military Colleges, spoke yesterday (Wednesday, January 23) at a conference on the limitations to the use of military force, discussing changes in the threats facing the IDF (Zahal) and the importance of adjusting to these changes.

“The nature of the wars does not change, but the character of the enemy does,” Maj. Gen. Baidatz said at the conference. “Once, everything was clear and we knew what decisiveness was and what victory and deterrence were; now, there is an obvious need for new concepts suited to the current reality.” 

Maj. Gen. Baidatz emphasized the importance of the IDF (Zahal)’s responses to changes. “We must separate from what characterized combat doctrine in recent years and understand that asymmetrical conflict is the main type of conflict,” he stated. “The responsibility of the IDF (Zahal) as an operational body is not to offer recommendations to the political echelon, but rather to develop theories of doctrine and operational combat. The goal is to reach objectives while minimizing damage to both sides, and therefore we must understand that the adversary is of an entirely different sort from that of the past.”

According to Maj. Gen. Baidatz, high-ranking officials in the IDF (Zahal) are currently studying such change, so as to update the IDF (Zahal)’s concepts and methods. He noted that since the 1970s unconventional warfare has been the primary military threat to Israel – expressed by conflict with terror organizations and not with states. “Since 1973, it is apparent that the State of Israel has had no wars against regular armies of other states, but against terror organizations. There is a clear change here, and thus there is a need to develop suitable concepts and ideas,” he explained.

“Also when looking at Operation Pillar of Defense and clashes of that type, part of the challenge we face when discussing asymmetrical warfare is not just breaking capabilities, but also to bring the enemy to a decision the day after – that [using] terror against Israel is not worth it,” Maj. Gen. Baidatz added, describing how “a Hamas battalion commander makes situation evaluations in his house, dressed in civilian clothing, while his family sits in the next room.”

Maj. Gen. Baidatz emphasized that due to constraints in the field and the behavior of the terror organizations, the IDF (Zahal) exercises great caution in the use of force in order to avoid harming civilians. “Before each strike we consider if it is moral and who it harms,” he said, adding that “we consider the effectiveness of the strike for the continuation of the battle – if it will reduce it or actually strengthen it.”