The IDF Strategy

In recent years, numerous phenomena have taken place within the strategic environment of the State of Israel, leading to changes in the threat characteristics along with the strength of the State of Israel, which have spread out from the first circle (Enemy countries bordering Israel) to distant ones. The document is based on the understanding that the conventional and non-conventional threats stemming from the first circle are on the decline, while, on the other hand, an increase has been detected in sub-conventional threats (such as: terror organizations, using underground capabilities, or high trajectory fire to mention but a few) and cyber threats. This document has been written having in mind that in the course of the Multi-Year Plan, the IDF (Zahal)’s strength must be built up both for multi-arena and multi-dimensional defense, and for attacks on a number of fronts simultaneously, and therefore we must be prepared to take action.

In light of future challenges and changes in the enemy’s characteristics, this “IDF (Zahal) Strategy” document, presents the required changes in the IDF (Zahal), such as: reinforcing the effectiveness of land maneuverability, varying operational capabilities within the ‘Operation Between Wars’, strengthening the cybernetic dimension and maintaining clear intelligence, air and marine superiority. In terms of force operation, the strategy is based on the classical principles – Deterrence, Detection, Defense, and Defeating the Enemy. In addition to the above, this paper regulates the concept of Command and Control during war, to enable the effective IDF (Zahal) operations in the combat arena.

The IDF (Zahal) has been dealing with the “IDF (Zahal) strategy” in conjunction with its operational activities, for many years. The concepts as formulated in this document will serve as the basis of the processes that the IDF (Zahal) will lead as part of the “Gideon” Multi-Year Plan, and will serve as a guiding compass for the use and force buildup, leading to best utilization of capabilities, while studying changes in the enemies’ characteristics and maintaining the confidence in the IDF (Zahal)’s strengths.

Developing the strategy is not the ultimate target. The proof will be manifested in the actual carrying out of missions during routine, emergency and wartime conditions. The IDF (Zahal) will succeed in any task and in any challenge and will realize its ultimate goal – to win and to defend Israel.

The IDF Strategy

Lieutenant General Gadi Eisenkot,
The Chief of the General Staff

August 2015



The “IDF (Zahal) Strategy” document is the cornerstone for the use and buildup of force, deals with the following issues:[1]

  1. The manner in which the IDF (Zahal) analyses its internal and external operating environment.
    a)  Description of the State of Israel’s defense concept (as reflected in its past work and in the manner in which Israel operates).
    b)  Description of the IDF (Zahal)’s operating environment – international, strategic-operative and internal.
  2. The Strategy of the Use of Force, while focusing on the common elements of the various operational arenas in which the conflict is against a sub-state enemy (such as the Hezbollah and Hamas organizations). The unique context for the operational arenas must be developed in a parallel process, primarily – applying the general principles in the various functional situations to the operational challenge unique to the arena.
  3. Command and Control concept and the IDF (Zahal)’s Order for Battle while defining the duties of the General Staff and the duties of the operational arena command staff, establishing the Chief of the General Staff as the sole operational commander in the IDF (Zahal) and the principles of command and control.
  4. Force buildup principles and capabilities required for the IDF (Zahal) while prioritizing them in principle, as a derivative of an analysis of the operating environment and the principles of use of force.

The follow-up processes deriving from this document are:

  1. Formulating a comprehensive and integrated use-of-force concept in the operational arenas and having them written up by the operational arena commanders.
  2. Formulating and writing up the force buildup concepts by the force-building branches and departments.
  3. On-going prioritization of the capabilities required for the IDF (Zahal) and the strengthening plans deriving from the IDF (Zahal) strategy – a process that must be led by the Planning Branch and the Operations Branch, in cooperation with the other branches and departments, within the framework of preparing for the “Gideon” Multi-Year Plan.

[1]   This document is an unclassified version of the IDF (Zahal) Strategy document that was formulated as part of the “Gideon” Multi-Year Plan.

Chapter 1 – Strategic Framework

Chapter 1

Strategic Framework

The IDF (Zahal) strategy is the theoretical and practical infrastructure for all other military documents. It is based on vital national interests, on the conventions of national security and on the foundations of military theory and practice. It provides a guideline to combining the elementary conventions of national security with the principles and rules of military theories.

National Goals

The following are the national goals of the State of Israel:[1]

  1. Safeguarding the existence of the State of Israel, and protecting its territorial integrity and the security of its citizens and residents.
  2. Preserving the values of the State of Israel and its character as a Jewish and Democratic state and the home for the Jewish People.
  3. Securing the State of Israel’s social and economic power.
  4. Strengthening the international and regional status of the State of Israel, while striving for peace with its neighbors.

Threat Factors

The threats to the State of Israel are as follows: states – far (Iran) and near (Lebanon), failed, disintegrating (Syria); sub-state organizations (Hezbollah, Hamas); or terrorist organizations with no connection to a specific state or community (Global Jihad, Palestinian Global Jihad, Islamic State and others).

Principles of National Security Concept

The military aspect of the security concept – Detection, Deterrence, Defense, and Defeating the Enemy – is expressed in the following principles:

  1. Reliance on Defensive Strategy. Aimed at ensuring the existence of Israel, creating effective deterrence, neutralizing threats as necessary and delaying the next conflict.
  2. Offensive military concept – the base assumption is that the enemy cannot be defeated through defense. Therefore, offensive force is crucial in order to achieve clear military results. Force shall be activated in a determined manner to achieve the political goals, while operating in accordance with the international law with an emphasis on the Rules of War[2] while preserving the legitimacy of the State of Israel.
  3. Strategic cooperation – strengthening relations with the United States and developing strategic relations with other key countries – in addition to establishing and strengthening support worldwide.
  4. Strengthening Israel’s status within the regional arena – maintaining peace agreements and realizing cooperative potential with moderate regional elements.
  5. Maintaining a relative advantage is based on human quality, on advanced technological capabilities (means of warfare) and on various types of intelligence.

The security concepts are:

  1. The establishment of extended periods of security calm to enable the development of society, economy and science, as well as improving Israel’s preparedness for emergencies and for war.
  2. Creation of deterrence towards the regional environment and elements that may create threats, based on maintaining strong and relevant military power, and the determination to use military force to a full extent, if necessary.
  3. Routine realizing, deepening and maintaining deterrence by building strength and creating a reliable threat relating to the IDF (Zahal)’s willingness and preparedness to employ military force. At the same time, activating all security organizations in a coordinated manner to damage the enemy’s capabilities and its force buildup.
  4. In emergencies and during wartime prompt foiling of the threat, limiting the damage to the State of Israel and maintaining Israel’s regional deterrence.

The Relation between National Goals and the Deployment of Force

When the military needs to be deployed, it is recommended that the political level instruct the military, as follows:

  1. The goals and the required strategic End States.
  2. The military’s role and how it should integrate into the achievement of these goals.
  3. The constraints involved in the use of military force.
  4. Defining additional efforts (political, economic, media, social) and the IDF (Zahal)’s role in their context.

The political echelon’s guidelines require an ongoing discourse between the senior military echelon (the Chief of the General Staff) and the political echelon. Political guidance is the basis for the General Staff’s strategic thinking processes, in the same time it is also affected by these processes – the effect is mutual.

[1]    From the working paper on “Development of the National Security Concept” (Dan Meridor Document, 2007).

[2]  The basis of the rules of war consists of four basic principles that must be implemented according to context: military necessity, analysis, proportionality and humanity.

Chapter 2 – The Strategic and Operational Environment

Chapter 2

The Strategic and Operational Environment

The threat to the State of Israel has undergone a change in recent years. In the past, the enemy strove to promote a vision emphasizing Arab nationality, and mainly attempted to defeat Israel via conventional military action. Today, however, the enemy is characterized by local, ethnic-based and religious attributes. Its modus-operandi has altered, and now it combines regular military activity, guerilla warfare, terrorism and “soft” warfare.

Characteristics of the International and Strategic Environment

Within the external environment, the following strategic logics may be identified:

  1. The enemy strives to enforce Islamic rule over the Middle East, including the State of Israel. It acts to erode and exhaust Israeli society, based on the assumption that its resilience is low.
  2. The Islamic “resistance” movements seek to replace the nation-states, and have relentlessly been trying to establish themselves in low-governability frontier areas.
  3. Challenging issues with western countries affecting Israel’s international legitimacy.

Within the internal Israeli environment:

  1. Israel is a peaceful nation seeking to avoid conflict.
  2. If a conflict is imposed on the State of Israel, it will concentrate its capabilities and win.
  3. Changes in national priorities have led to a reduction of investment in defense, compared to investment in social and economic developments. Concurrently, the Israeli public expects the IDF (Zahal) to provide prompt threat resolutions and an overall protection.

Characteristics of the Operational Environment

The enemy has changed its use-of-force characteristics posing new challenges to the IDF (Zahal):

  1. A decrease in the threat from regular state militaries and an increase in that of sub-state organizations, either irregular or semi-regular, supported by Iran. These organizations are striving to become state entities.  This means, a decrease in the threat of invading Israel’s territory, while maintaining the threat of limited penetration for terrorist activity or for public relations’ achievements.
  2. An increase in the threat of fire on the home front (characterized by: capacity, accuracy, warhead size, survivability), and an attempt to pose a strategic threat to national vulnerable sites and the national economy. All this while maintaining a constant effort to ensure survivability of the firing array through decentralization, concealment, protection and use of civilian environments, in order to provide bargaining abilities and a “victorious image”.
  3. The enemy’s deployment and assimilation within populated civilian areas. This phenomenon strives to impose difficulties upon the IDF (Zahal)’s combat operations, increase harm to uninvolved civilians and limit the IDF (Zahal)’s freedom of action.
  4. Combat capabilities (IEDs, ground-to-ground rockets, AT, SAM, shore-to-sea missiles, electronic warfare, and underground warfare) intend to deter and disrupt the IDF (Zahal)’s efforts on land, sea and air, to offset its technological advantages, to maximize civilian and military casualties, and increase strategic pressure on Israel.
  5. A multi-dimensional approach during and in between wars includes: cyberattacks, cognitive efforts, and legal efforts, and terror activities in Israel and abroad, such as: abducting civilians and soldiers for bargaining purposes.

Operational Capabilities:

  1. The costs of the IDF (Zahal)’s means of defense, intelligence and warfare, have substantially increased to confront the operational challenges that the enemy poses at a significantly lower cost.
  2. The IDF (Zahal)’s technological edge is challenged by the fact that numerous technologies once possessed only by the state defense industries have proliferated into the civilian market.

During combat campaigns against sub-state Islamic organizations, the IDF (Zahal) will need:

  1. To conclude the campaign with a victory and dictate terms for the end of hostilities.
  2. To significantly reduce damage to the home front.
  3. To establish an improved security reality, which will pose difficulties to the enemy’s force build up.
  4. To maintain the legitimacy of the use of force.

On the military level, the conflict will require a decision regarding the optimal combination and prioritization of various efforts – defensive, offensive, special operations and other supporting efforts –to fight a campaign that optimally supports the political and strategic goals and is compatible with the allocated resources.

Additional issues, not focused in this Document

As part of the risk and opportunities assessment, resulting from major ongoing uncertainties in the region, must be taken into consideration.

Chapter 3 – The IDF (Zahal)’s Use of Force

Chapter 3

The IDF (Zahal)’s Use of Force

This chapter deals with the general principles for the IDF (Zahal)’s use of force during routine, emergencies, and war, as well as with the key political and strategic goals required from the IDF (Zahal), along with the IDF (Zahal)’s basic functional modus operandi, and their operating logic.

General Principles for the IDF (Zahal)’s Use of Force

The general principles for the IDF (Zahal)’s use of force are:

  1. Preventing Conflict and Deterring the Enemy:
    A campaign intended to weaken negative elements, damage the enemy’s capabilities and demonstrate high and immediate preparedness to realize the military’s ultimate goal – to defend and win.
    Expanding and deepening regional and international cooperation against enemies.
  2. Detection[1] and Intelligence[2] relating to enemy capabilities and intentions:
    Maintaining intelligence superiority enabling sufficient early warning about the enemy’s capabilities and intentions.
    b) Maintaining detection capabilities concerning states, sub-state military organizations and terrorist organizations, including identifying  course alternating at all levels: strategic, operational and tactical.
    c) Intelligence enabling the planning of operations for the purpose of causing substantial damage to the enemy.
  3. Defense and Protection:
    a) Defense in all four dimensions (land, sea, air and cyber).
    b) Defending the citizens of Israel and its residents, its infrastructure and physical integrity (maintaining sovereignty).
    c) Preventing the enemy from achieving any territorial gains once the conflict ends, and reducing the enemy’s achievements in all other dimensions.
  4. Defeating the Enemy:
    Realizing military superiority to achieve the operation’s goals as defined by the political echelon, in order to improve the State of Israel’s strategic position.
    b) Maintaining the continuity of the economic and military effort by means of effective and multi-dimensional defense (land, sea, air, cyber).
    c) At the tactical level – defeating the enemy in all encounters.

The Purpose of the Military Action

A number of key political and strategic goals may be defined for the use of force:

  1. Delaying the next conflict via the use of force during routine.
  2. Maintaining or improving the strategic situation once the enemy has launched hostilities characterized by its changes of operating patterns and intentions.
  3. Fundamentally altering the situation up to a change in the strategic balance by neutralizing enemies or by significantly changing their capabilities or status.

Beside the succession of the operational framework, continuity is defined in military functional situations, as distinguishing between three situations: Routine, Emergency and War (REW). The Chief of the General Staff determines the above specific functional situation. This decision helps to understand the context of the conflict, maintain a dialog with the political echelon, define the basic political situation and helps in the decision making, to raise national resources:

  1. Routine includes ongoing security, limited protracted conflicts and the Operation Between Wars.
  2. Emergency refers to limited campaigns and operations not within the framework of war.
  3. War.

The IDF (Zahal) strategy is based on operations to achieve the required goal – while organizing the missions, resources and operational authority to attain optimal action and meet the goals set.

The IDF (Zahal) will provide a response to initiated emergency steps, and will act to pinpoint regional strategic opportunities.

The characteristics of actions in the various situations and the operating logic therein:

  1. During routine – defensive and offensive actions, promoting legitimacy and conducting non-military actions intended to reduce the enemy’s freedom of action and to increase the State of Israel’s freedom of action.[3]
  2. During emergency – use of limited military force (compared to a state of war). The objective of the use of force is to show the futility in employing force against Israel, and restore a calm situation without striving for an immediate strategic change. The impact on life on the home front will be as limited as possible. In addition, the campaign will focus on a limited/delineated achievement.[4]
  3. During war – the use of force is characterized by the significant recruitment of military and national resources, along with the willingness to take high risks, and the use of force at high and ongoing intensity to achieve victory.

Operations during Emergency and War

This paragraph refers to, a conflict with sub-state organizations (such as Hezbollah and Hamas as described above). The response and force buildup for this type of conflict, is also suitable for campaigns against militaries and states.

Each time force is used, it has its own unique context, logic and operating pattern. Following are two main distinct patterns with different political and military logic, on which the basic concrete operational concepts will be developed, in accordance with various arenas of conflict.

At the strategic level, in all types of campaigns, one must strive for victory, which means achieving the political goals set for the campaign, in such a manner as to lead to an improvement in national security in the aftermath of the conflict.

The IDF (Zahal) will provide a response to two types of demands requested by political echelon: the first to achieve full and clear military defeat of the military organization it is facing.[5] The second is to cause damage to the enemy in a limited and delineated manner.

Campaign for a decisive defeat of the enemy:

  1. At the strategic level – in this operating logic, one must strive for victory while creating a situation in which the enemy may be forced to agree to a ceasefire or political arrangement, from a position of weakness based on its military defeat, or on its inability and unwillingness to continue fighting. Victory based on resolution has an important contribution to the creation or renewal of deterrence.
  2. In the operational arena, a clear tactical resolution is required, defined by the negation of the enemy’s will and capability to continue fighting and acting against our forces. The primary achievements for establishing a military decision with an enemy such as Hezbollah or Hamas shall be:
    a) Negating military capability by destroying the enemy’s forces.
    b) Reducing the effectiveness of its capabilities against the Israeli home front.
    c) Achieving goals perceived by the enemy as being valuable to them.
    d) Harming the enemy’s will to continue fighting.
  3. In addition, in each aggressive campaign, significant weight shall be given to defensive measures and border protection, as a key component to reduce the enemy’s achievements and increase the IDF (Zahal)’s freedom of action.
  4. The IDF (Zahal)’s concept for achieving a military resolution is the maneuver approach.[6] This is based on offensive operating components imposed on the enemy’s weak points, while exploiting relative advantages, with an emphasis on: initiative, impetus, and pace. A combination striving to achieve surprise and shock. This intends to damage the enemy’s decision-making process, to decrease the effectiveness of its action as soon as possible, both in terms of time and resources at its disposal, while employing minimal IDF (Zahal) means.

Limited Campaign

From time to time, the IDF (Zahal) will be required to conduct campaigns with limited or delineated achievements. In most cases, these types of campaigns, aimed to restore calm and provide future deterrence, will cause limited damage to the enemy.

  1. The operational logic is characterized by focused and limited actions to achieve valuable strategic goals, integrated by a defensive effort, all of which exhibit potential military defeat to the enemy. These actions will demonstrate to the enemy the potential damage resulting from the deterioration of the situation, and the low effectiveness of its actions. This will pressure it to halt its actions.[7]
  2. The operational achievements of this campaign are based on a combination of:
    a) Partial negation of specific enemy capabilities.
    b) Significant damage to enemy targets with strategic significance and to infrastructure contributing to its effort.
    c) Reduction of the effectiveness of enemy capabilities targeting the Israeli home front.
    d) Restraining the enemy from escalating the situation by employing means or methods of warfare.
  3. Combinations of military components exceeding enemy expectations are required to demonstrate the expected damage should the enemy continue fighting.

Principles of Use of Force in Emergency and War

The IDF (Zahal) operates in accordance to its values and principles of war. Emphasis is given to the principles of: adhering to the mission in light of the goal, utilizing force, and striving for victory.

The basic values relating to the IDF (Zahal)’s use of force during emergency and war are:

  1. Quality of decisions and commanders initiative.
  2. Carrying out of Missions completely, quickly, using with minimal resources.
  3. Commanders and troops Fighting Spirit.

During emergency and war, the IDF (Zahal) will act in accordance with a few basic principles, which will guide its planning within any framework.  There will be variations relating to the power and scope of the use of offensive efforts, while the defensive effort will be fully activated as extensively as required in any type of campaign:

  1. A combined, immediate and simultaneous strike, using two basic components: the first – immediate maneuver, to harm the enemy, conquer territory, reduce the use of fire from the conquered area, seize and destroy military infrastructure, and affect the enemy’s regime survivability. The second – extensive strategic-fire campaign, based aerial freedom of action and high-quality intelligence.
  2. Special operations efforts
  3. High-quality intelligence enabling significant damage to the enemy, from the outset of the conflict, and throughout its entire duration. Providing intelligence for the defensive effort to neutralize enemy’s offensive means, and supporting offensive efforts against it.
  4. Effective protection against high trajectory fire.
  5. War economy to enables the utilization of the IDF (Zahal)’s capabilities in all phases of the campaign, in a manner that will ensure the realization of the mission with maximum effectiveness.
  6. Interconnectivity of various capabilities, measures and knowledge.
  7. Jointness of the IDF (Zahal)’s arms to maximize its capabilities.
  8. Flexibility to enable the effective transition between the required functional situations and the operational arenas, and to adapt actions to the developments at all the levels of war.

Primary Capabilities and Efforts during Emergency and War

The strategic level is specialized in managing multi-domain and multi-arena operations through integrated efforts.[8] The key efforts and capabilities employed during emergencies and war for both purposes and operating logics described above, are:[9]

  1. Simultaneous defense in all domains and operation arenas.
  2. Offensive capability conducted simultaneously on multiple fronts, by:
    a) Immediate ground maneuver, which will be deadly, fast, survivable and flexible enabling transition between arenas and fronts.
    b) Effective use of fire, powerful and high-quality, precise, multi-dimensional, in all arenas of war, at any time and with an element of surprise.
    c) Attacking and operating in the depth by fire offense, focused maneuvering and special operations.
  3. High-quality intelligence at all levels, to formulate a national defense strategy, design and plan operations, and for the use of force at the campaign and tactical levels.
  4. Maintaining continuity of effort for the military and the economy (home front) by means of multilayer defense (intelligence for attack, detection and warning, blocking and disruption, air defense, protection, and more).
  5. Full interoperability, on the basis of networked warfare, of all IDF (Zahal)’s elements of force.
  6. A flexible multi-branch logistics response (national and military) in all arenas of war.
  7. Ongoing research and learning efforts of the strategic and operational environment, while realizing the adaptability required from the IDF (Zahal).
  8. An ability to manage effectively PR and legal efforts during and post combat, to legitimize action.

Efforts specifications

Intelligence Efforts for early warning detection prior to the conflict and for operations planning

  1. Indications related to risks or threats that may be realized, and may require specific response preparations.
  2. Providing early warning detection of an emergency surprise attack on the Israeli home-front, using guided missiles and ground raids along the border area. Early warning detection of regional significant changes and of technological and enemy conceptual surprises.
  3. Intelligence for planning and conducting operations, required at all levels of force use.

Offensive Efforts: Maneuver, Fires, Special and Cyber Operations

The use of offensive force during emergency and war for the two purposes and logics described above shall be based on the use of offensive force, by means of: maneuver, fire, special operations, along with defensive efforts, simultaneously and immediately, while using intelligence, Command and Control and network capabilities. The basic components of action shall be:

  1. Maneuver effort to the front and to the depth: offensive ground actions shall be carried out in a focused manner against centers of gravity, while striving to reach final maneuver lines as quickly as possible. Upon reaching the final maneuver lines, the forces shall act to stabilize the lines of defense and purify the area.
  2. Fire effort: use of campaign-level fire at a continuous rate and maximum power from the outset of the conflict in the front and in the depth. Use of fire shall be in accordance with the principles of proportionality, targets values. Legitimacy considerations shall be secondary to the above. Management of ”war economy” and the use of various munitions, shall be a key factor of the planning of the use of the fire effort from the beginning of the combat.
  3. Special operations efforts.
  4. Cyber efforts during emergency and war shall support defensive and offensive efforts at all levels of warfare – strategic, operational and tactical.

Defensive Efforts

  1. Defense to prevent organizations that are in the focus of this document from making any territorial gains.[10] This means protection from raids and complex attacks, including from the air and the marine domains. This defensive capability shall be based on:
    a) Flexibility in the use of IDF (Zahal) forces within Israel’s borders.
    b) Reduction of civilian vulnerability (including evacuating civilians from threatened areas) within the border regions.
    c) Intelligence gathering and early warning systems.
  2. Home-front defense. Protecting the civilian home-front and the military rear from attacks by high trajectory fire, as well as ensuring continuity of offensive capabilities. The prioritized order for defense shall be:
    a) Defense enabling the continuity of the use of military force both for defense and offense – including critical infrastructure in the military rear and in the home-front.
    b) Protection of vital national infrastructure and government institutions, in order to maintain the continuity and functionality.
    c) Protection of population centers.
    d) During limited operations, the IDF (Zahal) shall consider to prioritize civilian protection.
    e) The key components of the home-front protection capabilities are: active defense, early warning systems and physical protection.
  3. Cyber defense during emergency and war is vital, both to allow the continuous functionality of state institutions during conflict and to enable effective network-based operations of the IDF (Zahal).

The enabling efforts intend to support the offensive and defensive efforts, such as logistics and C4I efforts.

The political, PR and legal efforts to preserve and improve the legitimacy of action shall commence during the preparation phase, and shall continue during the campaign to create, maintain and improve the legitimacy of action in Israel and in the international community. Internal and external efforts shall include: legal, diplomatic and media activities.

Use of Force principles during Routine

The objective during routine is to maintain security, deter the enemy from actions against Israel and delay the next conflict as much as possible by covert and overt operations.

Use of force during routine, shall include the following actions:

  1. An ongoing effort to protect Israel to allow its population to lead a normal life (regular security operations, border and cyber defense.
  2. Deterrence through continuous offensive efforts (Operation Between Wars). This effort is mainly covert and is combined with a PR effort.
  3. Civilian support operations.
  4. Creating legitimacy during routine, emergency and war to enable use of force, while providing IDF (Zahal) forces with freedom of action and denying the enemy of the same.


Deterrence is perceptual, based on physical elements constituting enemy’s considerations, such as: the results of previous conflicts, routine actions emphasizing the futility of conflict, and the constant threat by the IDF (Zahal) to use force.

The general and basic deterrence of the State of Israel – which depends on the IDF (Zahal)’s strength and advantage – still exists. Its relevance, however, is limited compared to the past, due to the changed threat.

Deterrence must be specific and adapted to each enemy; it must be based on an ongoing analysis of the enemy’s characteristics, considerations, capabilities, identity and decision‑making processes.

Deterrence against any enemy must be –

  1. Without any specific context – general and cumulative over time, to sustain the current situation and set-up “rules of the game”, advantageous to Israel.
  2. Specific and focused in the event of a specific crisis context, –to force the enemy to act, or avoid acting, to thwart deterioration and prevent war.
  3. The following are the components of deterrence:
    a) A credible threat of fierce offensive action that will result in a heavy toll in the event of an attack on Israel. This component is based on –
      1. Force Buildup, part of which is visible to the enemy, demonstrating the willingness and capabilities of the IDF (Zahal) to harm it.
      2. Perceptual actions asserting willingness to accept risks.
      3. Limited offensive actions to signal deviations from the “rules of the game” and the readiness to take risks.
    b) Force Buildup that demonstrates enemy’s efforts are worthless (such as: the developments of active defensive systems).
    c) Disrupting and thwarting capabilities.

A significant portion of the actions intended to deter enemies, shall be carried out during the Operation Between Wars.

The Operation Between Wars

The logic of the use of force during the Operation Between Wars is to intensify the achievements of previous campaigns through a series of goals intended to delay the next war:

  1. Weaken negative force elements.
  2. Reduce enemy’s force buildup.
  3. Establish optimal conditions for victory in a future war.
  4. Enhance legitimacy for Israel’s actions, and negate legitimate basis related to enemy’s actions.

The management of the above operations is based upon a multi‑disciplinary concept (military, economic, legal, media and political), incorporating a unified strategic logic.

The basic idea in the use of offensive force in the Operation Between Wars is a combination of:–

  1. Covert and Clandestine operations[11] in all arenas and dimensions outside the borders of Israel. This is based on intelligence, for the purpose of damaging the enemy’s efforts and initiatives.
  2. Overt operations to create deterrence – demonstrates the limits of Israel’s restraint.

While creating legitimacy for actions of Israel and upholding on-going efforts to defend Israel’s sovereignty.

Guiding principles relating to covert and clandestine campaigns during Operation Between Wars are:

  1. Initiated on-going operational activity, in which forces operate in covert and clandestine manners during short periods of time.
  2. Inter-organizational, operational and intelligence cooperation.
  3. International cooperation for intelligence and preventive actions, to maintain the legitimacy of the IDF (Zahal)’s actions and reduce the legitimacy of the enemy’s actions.
  4. Legal, economic and perception (PR), activities, to reduce enemy’s and legitimacy capabilities.
  5. The need for accessible and precise intelligence at all levels.

Achieving and Maintaining Legitimacy

The enemy is active in dimensions not merely military-kinetic. In the past, it has succeeded to decrease the IDF (Zahal)’s achievements in these areas. Both defensive and offensive aspects typify this campaign. It intends to create legitimacy for Israel (which includes freedom of action for the IDF (Zahal)), while delegitimizing the enemy (thus constraining it).

The methods of action in this campaign require employing the expertise of various elements within and without the IDF (Zahal), to ensure flow of information and synergy between them. These methods include, inter-alia: intelligence, cognitive and psychological warfare, diplomatic and state channels and legal processes. In addition, legitimacy weigh in during the overall situation assessment to affect relevant components of force buildup and use.

The perceptional (PR) effort may include three sub-efforts, according to the IDF (Zahal)’s functional situation:

  1. The routine effort intends to create the optimal conditions for the IDF (Zahal)’s legitimacy, and to gain international support. This infrastructural effort targets long-term influence. It improves the IDF (Zahal)’s functionality in light of challenges posed by claims that delegitimize Israeli military action, largely based on a critical analysis of Israeli conduct.
  2. Contextual effort includes actions taking place during routine periods as part of the Operation Between Wars, and targets medium-term influence. The effort promotes legitimacy for IDF (Zahal) military activity in a specific arena, and operation.
  3. Post emergency or war effort – designed to affect the short term – promoting legitimacy for further military action until its desirable conclusion– and the medium and long term – preserving the campaign’s strategic achievements and the freedom of action to reactivate the forces in the arena if required.

Operations against Countries with no Joint Borders

This operating outline is not the focus of this document, but will be mentioned, due to its unique nature.

The desired achievement against countries with no joint borders will be based on multi-dimensional ongoing operations. The purpose of which shall target limited tangible goals to deter escalation.

This concept is based on actions carried out within the framework of the Operation Between Wars supported by protracted intelligence gathering, by the aerial dimension, in combination with the Special Forces. This action shall be based on clandestine and covert actions, up to the use of offensive activity against enemy’s force build up efforts, as well as decreasing its freedom of action, which will disrupt and thwart its capabilities and intentions.

The guiding principles for the use of force are:

  1. Useful, accessible and precise intelligence at all levels of action required.
  2. Initiated and controlled operational actions, under the threshold of war, lasting short periods of time.
  3. Offensive activity in the target country.
  4. Inter-organizational cooperation – operational and intelligence.
  5. International cooperation for intelligence purposes.
  6. International cooperation to preserve the legitimacy of the IDF (Zahal)’s actions and reduce the legitimacy of the enemy’s actions.
  7. Continuous perceptional action to reduce enemy’s legitimacy of action, its freedom of action up to disrupting and thwarting of its initiatives.

[1]    Early Warning

[2]    National Intelligence –to enable the formulation of a national defense strategy, to determine reference threats and a scenarios for force build-up,  to allow the optimal use of resources at any given time enabling the diversion of resources between preparedness and empowerment..  The National Intelligence should support identification of changes which require the IDF (Zahal) to assume different preparations– including the capability to detect course alteration and the provision of a response to issues at all levels concerning national security (and not merely in the military context).
Strategic Intelligence – to enable the design and planning of operations, formulating an achievable and measurable strategic goal, to reflect the political goals.
Operational intelligence – to enable the use of force at the operational level (in light of an analysis of the enemy’s centers of mass) and at the tactical level, to maximize impact and achieve tactical advantages. This intelligence stems from all intelligence-gathering agencies down to the battalion level, and from the single aircraft of vessel (as relevant).

[3]   This operation will include all efforts and will be managed at the political level, including legal, economic, and public relations operations.

[4]   Delineated – relative to the maximum possible achievement of decisive victory. The achievement is delineated at the strategic and operational levels. At the tactical level, the achievement required from the units shall be the full achievement of tactical resolution.

[5]   Generally, in order to achieve a clear and distinct political achievement, or the destruction of or major damage to the ‘military capabilities of an organization or state.

[6]    From “maneuvering the enemy.”

[7]    This pattern of behavior is called “enforcement.”

[8]    Effort (see Operations Branch, Theory and Training 1.22 dated October 1 2014) –at the campaign and military strategy levels: a name in the field of operations, for the temporary consolidation of forces and resources under a single authority to achieve a mission.
An effort has three components: mission – the task given to the effort commander; military resources – measures and sources of a military force (personnel, HQs and means of warfare stemming from various branches of the military) allocated to the effort commander in order to achieve the mission; authority – the legal power of an effort commander, enabling him to delegate his power to his subordinates for the purpose of attaining missions.

[9]   Not in order of priority

[10]    Prevention of the territorial gains shall be assessed at the end of the defensive combat.

[11]    Covert operations – planned and carried out so as to hide the identity of the party behind them, or to grant denial possibilities. Results are visible to the enemy.
Clandestine operations – carried out in a way to ensure total concealment. The enemy should not even suspect that such an operation has ever taken place.

Chapter 4 The Command and Control (C&C) Concept and the IDF (Zahal)’s Order of Battle

Chapter 4

The Command and Control (C&C) Concept and the IDF (Zahal)’s Order of Battle

The General Command

The General Command is the IDF (Zahal)’s supreme command, headed by the Chief of the General Staff, the General Staff.

The General Command is the sole IDF (Zahal) echelon in contact with Israel’s political level. It is the only entity authorized to interpret political directives into military actions.

The General Command is the IDF (Zahal)’s multi-branch strategic HQ, designated to command and control the IDF (Zahal) use of force, and the force build up.

The Chief of the General Staff is the sole operational commander within the IDF (Zahal). He is the commander of all of operations conducted by the IDF (Zahal), through the General Command. The General Command is in charge of coordinating and synchronizing all the efforts, including those conducted by the various Principal Commands[1] within the war arena and all the operational arenas.

The General Command also functions as the supreme operational HQ for the ground forces.

The operational resources are at the General Command’s disposal, to be allocated to the Principal Commands to carry out their prioritized missions. The General Command shall balance among missions assigned to the Principal Commands.

The above General Command’s responsibility shall not be decentralized or transferred to any other principal command.

The Chief of the General Staff as the Operational Commander

The Chief of the General Staff commands all the IDF (Zahal)’s campaigns and determines all efforts and missions assigned to the Principal Commands. He sets-up the strategic and operational concepts to attain the missions of the Principal Commands and their interactions.

The Chief of the General Staff implements his command through the Principal Commands, carrying out the relevant efforts. These efforts may be independent[2], or applied by a number of Principal Commands. Reciprocal relations exist among efforts, organized as part of the C&C campaign arrangement.

An appropriate C&C architecture should be specifically defined for each campaign. It should be planned in such a manner so as to optimize the use of force. The C&C architecture shall utilize the IDF (Zahal)’s capabilities both in independent and in combined efforts. Therefore, it must be a part of the battle plan, set at the outset of the event, tested during the event, and modified as required.

The Principal Commands

The operational arenas are domains under the authority of the commanders of the Principal Commands. These commanders have overall responsibility to accomplish their missions.

The commanders of the Principal Commands are required to implement their authority over the operational arena, during Routine, Emergency and War (REW). They are required to achieve two basic missions: to protect the sovereignty of the State of Israel, within their arena (geographical/dimensional), and to develop operational knowledge related to their responsibility.

The duty of the Principal Commands is to develop knowledge in a broad context, for internal purposes and for other Principal Commands relevant needs.

Principles of Command and Control

Mission command – is at the core of the C&C concept. It requires preservation, despite the multiple C&C measures and processes, through which information flows among the various levels.

Unity of command – each commander is subordinate to a single commander at any point in time. Orders shall be given in accordance to the chain of command and based on the principle that the last order is the determining one – and each supervising commander may override the orders of their subordinates.

Mission definition – the commander defines the following: mission,[3] resources, and

Unified C&C procedures within the IDF (Zahal) – battle plan procedures and execution, shall be conducted in a unified manner throughout the IDF (Zahal) and shall be based on the basic IDF (Zahal) doctrine in a coherent and simple common language.

Generating optimal conditions – each commander is responsible to generate the optimal conditions to realize the mission for his subordinates via: planning and using optimal force, allocating resources and reducing constraints. Within this framework, each commander’s area of responsibility (rear and depth) must be limited, to allow them to focus their efforts on carrying out their missions.

Making decisions during combat – each commander has the option and duty to make decisions that differ from the original plan.

Commander vs. HQ dialog – It is important to maintain a regular process of dialog between commanders and HQs, intended to develop shared knowledge, conduct discussions, war games,  and exercises, all of these to establish common understandings which will serve as the basis for operations. The dialog shall be conducted in accordance with the principle of: Information Transparency along with Command Hierarchy.

[1]  The IDF (Zahal) comprises regional (Northern, Central, Southern, and the Home Front) and vocational commands (Air, Navy, Cyber, Intelligence, Logistics, C4I). All of which shall be referred to hereafter as “Principal Commands”, within the specific context

[2] An effort applied by a single Principal Command

[3]    Within the framework of the mission, operational constraints shall be defined, including time and boundaries.

Chapter 5 IDF (Zahal) Force Buildup

Chapter 5

IDF (Zahal) Force Buildup

Military force is designed to protect the integrity of the State of Israel and the security of its residents enabling the political echelon to promote the state’s national security policy and vital national interests. In the military field, these goals will be achieved by the IDF (Zahal)’s ability to deter potential enemies, prevent and thwart developing threats, encounter them, and protect the strategic and civilian rear.

Force buildup aims to create the capabilities needed to realize the IDF (Zahal)’s goals and use them against its enemies. Thus the force buildup contributes to deterrence and structures the future combat environment.

The goals of the force buildup are preparedness, which is the ability of the IDF (Zahal) to meet the use of force objectives, and strengthening, which is the IDF (Zahal)’s future capability. It is affected by the tension between the security requirements and resources constraints, as well as between the slow pace of the strengthening process and the speed of changes within the strategic and operative environment.

Guiding Principles of Force Buildup

The principles of the force buildup combine the above use of force principles, with some exceptions unique to this discipline.

Building the IDF (Zahal)s’ Relative Advantage

In order to attain the ability to achieve decisive results, the IDF (Zahal) must develop the following components:

  1. Maneuverability.
  2. Effective use of fire.
  3. High-quality intelligence to cause a distinct damage to the enemy.
  4. Protection from high trajectory fire.
  5. Networking.
  6. Uniform IDF (Zahal) C&C processes.
  7. Maintaining the IDF (Zahal)’s appropriate Order of Battle.
  8. Learning processes during combat.
  9. Developing and preserving technological capabilities and infrastructure, which will enable rapid expansion to respond to unpredicted changes in the strategic course.

Force buildup must be developed throughout the following actions:

  1. Development of an overall concept for the use of force within the war arena, in addition to concepts for the use of force in operational arenas adapted to the rapid changes in the threat and combat characteristics.
  2. Reinforcement of the ability to identify changes and to adapt accordingly during the conflict by means of the following actions:
    a) Training and drilling to strengthen independent commanders who are creative and initiative.
    b) Learning processes during combat.[1]
  3. Acceleration of the rate of development, equipping and assimilation of new technological responses, while taking risks to shorten the development period, using the following actions:
    a) Increasing the component of off-the-shelf purchases.
    b) Developing technological infrastructure that will enable the adaptation of the response to the problem over time, and not always immediately.
    c) Interconnectivity to support the use of force.
  4. An ability to promptly confront developing challenges based on the IDF (Zahal)’s fundamental capabilities, as well as on the ability to change course in the force buildup.

Planning and Implementing Force Buildup

The force buildup shall be carried out in coordination between the below fundamental components, in order to achieve a complete operational capability:

  1. Doctrine – the foundation of any required capability.
  2. Means of warfare – emphasizing Order of Battle and Inventory.
  3. Infrastructure.
  4. Human Resource Development.
  5. Organization of the IDF (Zahal).
  6. Training and exercise – the basis for skills and capabilities.

Utilizing Resources

The IDF (Zahal) constantly operates with limited resources, which becomes more severe during emergency and war. This situation is dealt with by: utilizing resources via multi-year planning, inter-organizational and international collaboration to develop multi-functional means of warfare.[2]

Critical Mass

The force buildup shall be carried out while creating or maintaining critical mass of capabilities. Beside the importance of achieving a qualitative and technological advantage, the number of means that can be activated is also important. This affects the quality and flexibility of action. Mass together with flexibility is a way of dealing with uncertainty relating to future challenges on the battlefield.

Fundamental Prioritizing of Force Buildup

In general, the force buildup shall focus on a war scenario and shall be adapted to emergency and routine situations as needed. Designated capabilities for non-war scenarios shall e peaceful and routine civilian life.

The force buildup process presented in this chapter is aimed at a concrete scenario of combat against a sub-state enemy. At the same time, technological infrastructure must be developed, to provide a response to strategic changes in the arena, which, if they occur, will require re‑prioritization of capabilities.

The IDF (Zahal)’s fundamental priorities shall continue to be the development of offensive capabilities before defensive capabilities, despite the centrality of defense and the increased threats to the home front.

Required IDF (Zahal) Core Capabilities

For the purpose of convenience and coherence, the following is the IDF (Zahal)’s core capabilities:

Offensive Order of Battle enabling land operations via:

  • Land maneuverability
  • Firing capabilities
  • Special operations
  • The Operation Between Wars
  • Offense in Cyberspace

Defensive capabilities that enable:

  • Border protection during emergencies and war
  • Routine border protection
  • Protection against high trajectory fire
  • Defense in Cyberspace

Enabling Capabilities:

  • Intelligence utilization
  • Continuity of function
  • Networking enabling sharing
  • Logistics response
  • Investigation and learning
  • Coalition activity
  • Cognitive influence
  • Achieving legitimacy
  • Legal response

Required Defensive Capabilities

Simultaneous defensive capability is required in all operational arenas during Routine, Emergency and War (REW), in all situations and in all dimensions (land, air, sea and cyber).  The IDF (Zahal)’s goal is first and foremost to protect the State of Israel’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

Priorities for dealing with border threats:

  1. Denial of any territorial achievement by the enemy at the end of the conflict.
  2. Preventing terrorism and attacks along the borders.
  3. Protection from guided missiles and accurate fire, including large amounts of statistical fire.
  4. Protection of air space, surrounding sea and cyberspace.
  5. Preventing mega terror attacks.

Border Protection during Emergencies and War

The focused threat in this area is an attempt to penetrate and seize land from the State of Israel – above-ground, underground, by air and sea.

Routine Border Protection

The entire border region must be treated as a permanently threatened region. The threat includes advanced capabilities (AT, SAM, high trajectory fire, etc.) enabling the IDF (Zahal) forces to be attacked from great distances. Therefore, the IDF (Zahal) forces must prepare to defend its units and local communities in the front line.

Defense against High Trajectory Fire

High trajectory fire weaponry is the dominant component of the enemy’s offensive capabilities. The threat includes damage to: the civilian home front, national and strategic infrastructure, to military installations and deployed units. Force buildup relating to the above, shall be based upon the following:

  1. Continuous integrative defense[3], capable of dealing with numerous threats, combining “soft” and kinetic capabilities to neutralize the enemy’s fires accuracy.
  2. Overall land and maritime strategic assets defense.
  3. The ability to operationally control wide areas to suppress enemy fire.
  4. Accurate enemy fire launches.

Required Offensive Capabilities

Ability to conduct numerous offensive operations on a number of fronts simultaneously must be maintained.

  1. Simultaneous and overpowering offensive on land, air and sea, conducted interactively within the operational arenas.
  2. Ability to relocate air and intelligence efforts between arenas.

Land Maneuverability

Land maneuverability capabilities are required. A distinction shall be made between the two maneuvering types of:

  1. Focused maneuvering into the enemy’s depth towards political/state centers of power.
  2. Decentralized, simultaneous maneuvering against the enemy’s broad tactical deployment.

Force buildup shall be realized with inter-branch coordination and utilization of maneuvering to expose the enemy and damage it with precise fire. Force buildup shall focus on lethality, maneuverability and force survivability. Force buildup in this field shall be based on the following capabilities:

  1. Realization of lethal maneuvering with low erosion rates using advanced defensive systems.
  2. In terms of Order of Battle, time and depth –
    a) Activating land forces with whichever Order of Battle is available at the onset of conflict[4]. and accumulating forces for a full assault over time, while preserving logistics enabling protracted operations.
    b) Use of effective and high availability fire support against an entrenched enemy, at low range and with small safety margins (in the case of close air support).
    c) Buildup of the ground force in a differential manner. Priority shall be given to the IDF (Zahal)’s Assault Divisions.

Operational-Level Fire

The ability to activate effective Operational-Level fire (air, land and sea) is required at all war arenas, at full strength, at any time, with an output of thousands of targets for a single fighting day, and the rest of the time – the ability to generate and attack hundreds of targets per day. The three types of use of fire are:

  1. Fire at preplanned targets – the force buildup shall enable an accurate, multi-dimensional blow, as quickly as possible and against a large number of targets. The force buildup goal for the northern arena is tens of thousands of preplanned targets; the force buildup goal for the Gaza arena is thousands of preplanned targets.
  2. Fire at occasional targets – the ability to use intelligence and promptly transfer it to the fires system. Force buildup will enable the operational processes including data gathering, fusion, target setup and attack and damage control. This requires fast network that combines multi-dimensional fire, land and air intelligence gathering, fusion and prioritizing engines, advanced planning tools and wide distribution throughout all units.
  3. Close support fire – synergy must be created between air-, land- and sea-based fire and ground forces, using supportive operational systems, uniformed network and joint training, which will foster trust between the parties and enable assaults with minimal safety margins.
    a) The ability to launch a surprise massive fire assault, within few hours.
    b) Reinforcing the planning and control entities and establishing them on the basis of available personnel within a short time.
    c) Utilizing high-quality intelligence, to support fire against enemy strategic targets.
    d) Joint training and familiarity to foster inter-branch trust.
    e) Develop fire capabilities to hit all the above targets.

Infantry Air Raids

Build up the capability to parachute or fly infantry forces to raid enemy centers of gravity. Force buildup direction shall include these capabilities:

  1. Airborne transport of significant infantry Order of Battle (planes and helicopters with high survivability).
  2. Autonomous force operation, with no resupply.

Operation of Special Forces in the Enemy’s Depth

The ability to conduct deep, extensive special operations shall be built up.

  1. Planning and exercising special operations in the war and the operational arenas.
  2. Sending out “operations of opportunity.”
  3. Buildup of a pre-prepared special operations “bank”.
  4. Standardization of special measures, means of warfare and doctrine (common language) among all Special Forces, to conduct special operations with large Orders of Battle.

Force Buildup for the Operation Between Wars

Force buildup for the Operation Between Wars must enable the existing and developing operational domain, while leveraging the use of existing capabilities. As a rule, force buildup for the purpose of the Operation Between Wars is contained within the IDF (Zahal)’s general force buildup. In a more focused context, the following actions should be taken:

  1. Establishing a coordination center for the Operation Between Wars operations within the Operations Branch, which includes inter-organizational and inter-ministerial elements.
  2. Developing covert and clandestine operational capabilities for use in the Operation Between Wars.

Force Buildup in Cyberspace

The cyberspace is an additional combat domain. This domain shall feature defensive, intelligence gathering and offensive actions. IDF (Zahal) force buildup in this domain shall be based on the following:

  1. Establishing a Cyber Arm, which will serve as a Principal Command, subordinate to the Chief of the General Staff for operations and force buildup of the IDF (Zahal)’s cyberspace capabilities. It will be in charge for planning and implementing the cyber domain campaign.
  2. Development of technological capabilities for cyber defense for the operational capabilities and for supporting capabilities (personnel, logistical systems).

Developing of Enabling Capabilities

Establishing a unified common language for Command and Control for all IDF (Zahal) HQs commanding or operating within the inter-branch domain. Force buildup in this area will be based upon establishing of a central C&C school.

Developing the ability to utilize high-quality intelligence at all operational levels: national, strategic, and operational intelligence. Force buildup shall be based upon the following actions:

  1. Development and refinement of the ability to fuse information from all sensors in all dimensions and from all disciplines, to create a situational awareness in extensive areas and with the required flux.
  2. Development of continuous-terrain-holding capability based on fusing intelligence data from various disciplines, enabling the prompt creation of precision targets.
  3. Tracking enemy doctrine, with an emphasis on advanced means.
  4. Utilizing intelligence, researching it and making it accessible (as required) to all levels: from the General Command level, to Regional Commands to the battalion.
  5. Situational awareness relating to enemy arrays and measuring the effectiveness of the IDF (Zahal)’s offensive efforts.

Preserving the continuity of war and national efforts through multi-level defense. Force buildup shall be based upon the following actions:

  1. Protection of national and strategic infrastructure.
  2. Continuous functioning of the national and wartime efforts by effective protection of strategic military
  3. Defending and maintaining routine activity on the home front (minimal rear echelon casualties):
    a) The ability to provide a rapid response to an event based on a communication network of all rescue forces, local authorities and civilians.
    b) Selective home front early warnings to enable focusing on the targeted area, while maintaining routine in non-targeted areas.
  4. The ability to function during cyberattacks.

Network based Warfare capabilities of all IDF (Zahal) force elements enables the utilization of accurate fire lethality and the creation of synergy between fire and maneuvering, against various enemies using numerous tactics.

Simultaneous integration of intelligence-gathering networks and air-, land- and sea-based fire, to provide the IDF (Zahal) with superiority against hidden enemies. Force buildup shall be based on the following:

  1. A fast network infrastructure that enables inter-branch and inter-organizational data sharing.
  2. Interconnectivity that enables rapid fusion of data from various disciplines and its processing to targets at short time constants.
  3. Accessibility of appropriate information to every level.
  4. Management of unified databases and geographical infrastructures for the entire IDF (Zahal), to be updated continuously in all the Operational Systems.

The existence of a flexible multi-branch logistical response (national and military) in all operational situations (REW) for all branches and departments, and in all aspects.      

Logistical capabilities enabling ground maneuver with any Order of Battle, while overcoming the high trajectory threat at the home front the guerilla threat to traffic arteries.

  1. Rapid deployment of the assault divisions for maneuvering.
  2. Logistics supply.
  3. Mobility between arenas.

The ability to affect and shape enemy cognitive perception is required in all conflicts, by means of systematic steps. Focused direction for the development of cognitive warfare capabilities are as follows:

  1. Developing systematic concepts to affect enemy situational awareness during all operational situations (REW).
  2. The ability to plan and synchronize the cognitive effort with other governmental ministries (the Prime Minister’s office, the Foreign Ministry, the Justice Ministry, and others).

The ability to effectively manage PR and legal efforts during routine, and combat aftermath, to allow the IDF (Zahal) to achieve its goals, including attaining legitimacy for its actions. This force buildup needs to consider media power to incorporate fast‑moving mechanisms, planning and synchronizing among battlefield operations, PR, and the legal efforts. Buildup capabilities shall be focused on the following actions:

  1. Operational planning, supported by legal knowledge.
  2. Buttress inter-ministerial cooperation mechanisms (Foreign Ministry, Justice Ministry and others) to shorten decision-making and response times.
  3. Cooperating with countries having similar interests.

Risk Management Relating to Scenarios – Not at the Focus of this Document

Despite the fact that this document focuses on sub-state enemies, the IDF (Zahal) must relate to the capabilities required against extreme scenarios, not in this reference outline, to manage risks, which, on the one hand, will focus on force buildup on the reference scenario, while, on the other hand, will not expose the State of Israel to unreasonable risks to its existence.

Development of Capabilities related to Countries with No Joint Border

As part of the challenge to maintain its Qualitative Military Advantage, the IDF (Zahal) shall maintain basic level of preparation and rely on a balance of deterrence, while maintaining mechanisms for accelerated acquisition.[5] Force buildup in this context shall be based on the following actions:

  1. Strengthening strategic and tactical early warning capabilities via information warfare.
  2. Early warning intelligence at appropriate time constants for the purpose of conducting a preventive strike.
  3. The ability to launch a preliminary strike, in accordance with early warning indications, to thwart an attempt to harm Israel.

[1]    The IDF (Zahal)’s interconnectivity will enable it to proliferate insights from the learning processes during combat faster than the enemy, which is restricted in its ability to do so due to its need to conceal its communications.

[2]    Appropriate for a variety of uses by various operators.

[3]     Integrative defense – defense based on multiple layers and capabilities from various fields.

[4]    The purpose of maneuvering (even if it is limited in scope but suffices in seizing controlling positions near the border) is to immediately establish facts that “neutralize” the barriers to ground maneuvering and places the enemy on the defense, on the one hand, while on the other hand – enables withdrawal to the border and prevent escalation in the sector, if a decision is made to do so.
This capability requires practice, decentralized C&C that enables the commander in the field to analyze the situation and decide in real time, HQ capability, empowering command guidance, and appropriate routine orders (for instance, in an abduction event).

[5]   As detailed in the sub-chapter on Force Buildup Principles.



  1. Developments within the region have led the IDF (Zahal) to deal with a wide range of threats that challenge its operating concept and force buildup processes ensued from it. The change is embodied primarily in the development of sub-state enemies, such as Hezbollah and Hamas, and threats from countries with no shared borders with Israel.
  2. This document provides the fundamental concept for the use of force in shared contexts for all operational arenas against semi-state enemies and in the IDF (Zahal)’s various functional situations: Routine, Emergency, and War.
  3. From the use of force principles, this document derives force buildup guidelines, to be used by the force buildup planners to reinforce the power of the IDF (Zahal) within the coming years.
  4. This document requires follow-up actions, mainly the development of specific operational concepts within the war arena, and the development of operational concepts for the principal commands. At the same time, the force buildup commands, must formulate the specific force buildup concepts derived from this document.
  5. The IDF (Zahal) has always based its power on the quality of its personnel and the deep understanding that the IDF (Zahal) guarantees Israel’s national existence. Therefore, the IDF (Zahal) will act to provide security under any conditions, while utilizing the basic characteristics of its commanders and soldiers, which are: fighting spirit, initiative, quality of action, and the ability to carry out complete missions in an uncompromising manner.