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26 July 2014


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FB Ali

Moshe Yaalon may have to wait another 60 years.

The Palestinians have not yet "surrendered" despite being forced into bantustans and at least in Gaza under a state of seige for many years as well as suffering disproportionate loss of life and infrastructure.

The sooner Israel gets over the thinking that they can defeat a peoples deep rooted sense of identity by force the sooner they can offer their own people a life of more peace and a better ability to pursue happiness.

Charles I

"I'm of the opinion that the behavior of the army toward the population in the occupied territories can also be explained by the evident antipathy of much of the population toward Arabs, whether they are Muslim or Christian."

I wonder how Israelis would behave if they were occupied, starved, blockaded and faced by an opponent with state of the art armed forces, including nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, backed by billions of some country's taxpayer dollars and a guaranteed UN veto until the "self defence" was over.

There's be peace tomorrow.


Charles: That is, of course, a founding myth of Israel-- that a people without weapons and without allies still managed to defeat a much more numerous, powerful, and better-equipped enemy that had them surrounded. Cf. Uris's Exodus for one example, Begin's The Revolt (translation) for another.

I used to think that if the Israelis understood their own history they would know they could never crush the Palestinians completely and would have to see that a deal is inevitable.

But now I've begun to think the Israelis are deathly *afraid* the Palestinians will replicate their own history/myth, and will do anything to prevent that from happening.

I see Yaalon's statement coming from that place. It's a very, very dark place, and its importance in Israeli thinking now is very, very bad for them and everyone else.


I totally agree with the colonel; I was shocked at how ill disciplined and sloppy even troops in an 'elite' paratroop unit in Hebron were.

The patrol leaders couldn't seem to get the men to avoid bunching up, despite repeated halts and explanations and gestures to do so.

As for their attitude and behaviour towards the Palestinian civilian population, the less said the better.


Anthony Cordesmann lays into the utter ineptness of the political leadership rather than the soldier in the field:

To paraphrase a comment about the British government’s management of the British Army in World War I, lions seem to be led by donkeys. If Israel has a credible ceasefire plan that could really secure Gaza, it is not apparent. If Israel has a plan that could credibly destroy and replace Hamas, it is not apparent. If Israel has any plan to help the Gazans and move them back towards peace, it is not apparent. If Israel has any plan to use US or other friendly influence productively, it not apparent.

As we have seen all too clearly from US mistakes, any leader can take a tough stand and claim that tactical gains are a meaningful victory. If this is all that Olmert, Livni, and Barak have for an answer, then they have disgraced themselves and damaged their country and their friends. If there is more, it is time to make such goals public and demonstrate how they can be achieved. The question is not whether the IDF learned the tactical lessons of the fighting in 2006. It is whether Israel's top political leadership has even minimal competence to lead them.



Thank you for your highly interesting comments about the nature of the IDF and the effects of the absence of more mature and experienced NCO's.
I served as a conscript in the IDF infantry/paratroops and for 20 years in a reserve paratroop battalion.
The factors that I believe contribute to the situation on the ground are (as you mentioned) lack of maturity in the units, as well as the undisciplined nature of israeli culture in general. Underlying all of this however, is the deeply ethnocentric nature of Israeli culture coupled with the trauma resulting from the Nazi holocaust and sundry other persecution. All this is exacerbated by the ethnocentric nature of the other cultures involved in conflicts in the region.

Patrick Lang


Thanks for your honest opinion and insight. pl

buy phentermine

The Israeli air raids on the Gaza Strip represent severe and massive violations of international human rights such as defined in the Geneva Convention


Interesting post, Colonel. In fact, the whole thread is interesting, particularly the posts concerning "Observer".

Over the years I've concluded that a good bit of the claims made about the Israeli army was the result of an effective propaganda campaign. Your post reinforces my view.

I do a good bit of military research as a sideline, so as a matter of course I would look at TO&Es and OOBs. I know that the Israelis based theirs for the 1956 and 68 wars on the British Army from WWII. This made sense considering how many Jews served in the British Army, particularly the Jewish Brigade in Italy. It surprise the hell out of me when I read what you wrote about the Israelis not having a professional NCO corps. I would have thought that they would have carried this over from the British instead of adopting the Tsarist/Red Army model. Anyway, between this and your other observations along with the evil effects occupational duties have it is easy to understand how Hezbollah was able to kicked them good in Lebanon.



The present day IDF ground force seems little changed. NB that Israeli Druze and Circassians (all of them Sunni Muslims) serve in the IDF in numbers greater than their proportion of the population. back in Ottoman times these minority populations sided with Jewish settlers against the majority Muslim and Christian Palestinian Arabs. In the Israeli War of Independence they fought alongside Jewish fighters and at their own request have always been drafted like non-haridi Jews. They tend to rise higher in the IDF than most Jews. Bedouins serve in segregated "tracker" units on a voluntary basis. pl


David Habakkuk

Colonel Lang,

A central point of the recent Russian military reform, of which the late Colonel Vitaly Shlykov, a former GRU spook, was a principal architect, was build a small, largely professional, army around precisely what peacetime Tsarist and Soviet armies had, as you note, always lacked: a proper corps of NCOs.

And indeed, in the article he wrote about security policy prior to his re-election as President, Putin stressed this:

'As Soviet Marshal Georgy Zhukov once said, “It’s me and the sergeants who are in command of the Army.” Non-commissioned officers are the backbone of the Army, supervising discipline and combat training. This position must be awarded to worthy servicemen who have the appropriate moral, physical and educational levels. Contract soldiers, as well as NCOs, will undergo training at special centers and sergeants’ academies.'

(See http://rt.com/politics/official-word/strong-putin-military-russia-711/ .)

The notion that the NCO levels are critical to the efficient functioning or organisations has seemed to me true of all the organisations I have either worked in or had dealings with. It was a fundamental mistake of the Thatcherites that they thought that the world was composed of officers and privates.


Good grief you fucking shill. Schwarzkopf had the gist of the IDF back in 1991. Hizballah shorned them in 2006, and now Hamas is sucking them in to a no win situation.

Any country that has to rely on something like the Samson Option is a mad dog among nations.

Your sophistry aside with magical thinking about how Israel's non-use of NCOs makes them special shows you have no standing on the issue other than to blatantly present yourself as a shallow mouthpiece.


Excellent post. Thanks for sharing this again.

FB Ali

On the earlier thread I had posted (on 10 Jan 2009) an extract from an op-ed in the NYT containing a quote by Moshe Ya'alon, Chief of Staff of the IDF in 2002. It bears re-posting since the same gentleman is now the Israeli Defence Minister. Presumably his views (and those of the IDF) haven't changed:

“This war on the people of Gaza isn't really about rockets. Nor is it about "restoring Israel's deterrence," as the Israeli press might have you believe. Far more revealing are the words of Moshe Yaalon, then the Israeli Defense Forces chief of staff, in 2002: "The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people."

- Rashid Khalidi, a professor at Columbia in an op-ed in The New York Times on Jan 7



FB Ali

"The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people." For someone of Southern sympathy that has a familiar sound. "


The tragedy of Jewish culture is that this iconic photograph can be now related to the "most moral army" as well:


Pat - Thank you for your analysis of the IDF. Not being a military man myself, some of the perplexing things I've seen in the IDF suddenly made sense. Most of my relatives, male and female, have served in the IDF. I've been with their IDF reserve units at various gathering and was struck with the excessive emotionalism of the units. There was no one to tell them whoa - stop and think a minute before you go off half cocked. The lack of the wizened veteran NCO in the IDF to provide the common sense to the young soldiers can explain the hundreds of examples of atrocious behavior I've witnessed in the West Bank.

I had an interesting conversation with my wounded Golani captain nephew who is now out of the hospital. I think some realism is finally sinking in. He is thinking about leaving the IDF at first opportunity. He mentioned two main reasons.

The tactic of striking at Hamas and Gaza every few years is futile. He is finally beginning to realize that Israel has no strategy for dealing with the Palestinians. They seem to only have today's tactic for whatever emerged. He now understands the Palestinians do not represent an existential threat to Israel, regardless of the Hamas rhetoric.

The second reason is the influx of crazies, mainly from the settlements. These people can hardly contain their glee at having an opportunity to shoot Palestinians. He says it's impossible to maintain unit discipline as the crazies will stop and shoot any Palestinian they see regardless of the unit's military objective.

Charlie Wilson

Okay! Resolved that Izzy is an a-----e country with an a-----e military and supported by bigger hand wringing a-----s in this country.


Everyone is nervous. The American evacuate the embassy in Libya today.

The Oded Yinon/PNAC plans have created chaos




The Samson Option is one reason the US is being blackmailed into continuing to support this rouge nation.
Thank you for taking this hasbara Observer to the woodshed.

Babak Makkinejad

I think you are clutching at straws in this case; people like war. All I needed to know in that regard I learnt from Margaret Mitchell.

Babak Makkinejad

I heard from a reliable source that everyone in Israel lives for the day - today - in their personal lives.


You are mistaken. Most armies in (central) Europe developed career NCOs between the end of the TYW and 1700.

The Red Army and the countries of the WP were more or less the exception. :-)


kao wrote: "..the Waffen SS, which I think also lacked a career NCO corps and was consequently constantly beset with discipline problems.."

The Waffen SS had of course career NCOs (Unterscharführer, Scharführer; lit. troop leader)

The quality of Waffen-SS formations (peak strength 600.000 men)covered the whole spectrum from quite good to extremely poor, therefore, a general statenment is not possible.

The sometimes abominable behaviour of "good" formations were, I am afraid, not the product of lack of discipline, but inherent to the units. In some case they were led by NCOs and officers who had served in guard units of extermination camps or had served in "Einsatzgruppen".

alba etie

Leila Abu-Saba
You are a new voice here at SST welcome.
I read carefully Col Lang's post regarding the IDF - nowhere did I see a blanket condemnation of a whole society in the discussion of the IDF . Where did you see that in Col Lang's post perhaps I missed it .

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