Israeli military history and strategy book digest

Combined Arms Warfare in Israeli Military History, by David Rodman, is an excellent new book assessing Israeli military strategy from 1948 through to Operation Protective Edge in 2014. Attempting to test the thesis that the Israeli military is at its most effective when embracing a combined arms approach to its operations, this book convincingly supports it, with Rodman making it apparent that Israel’s relatively few military failures stemmed from an overreliance on armoured forces, or aerial bombardments, i.e. the early stages of the Yom Kippur War, and Second Lebanon War. My only criticism of Rodman’s book would be his dismissiveness of the Israeli Navy, and even if its contribution to Israel’s military successes was negligible, it still deserved to be analysed in more detail. Overall, though, I enjoyed this book a lot. More accessible than many other books analysing military doctrine and strategy, Rodman has made an excellent effort at demystifying the IDF’s prestige, and distilled clear lessons other militaries would do well to follow.

Israel’s Long War with Hezbollah: Military Innovation and Adaptation Under Fire by Raphael D Marcus was also released relatively recently, and similarly to Rodman’s book is an excellent study on Israel’s approach to military strategy and tactics, albeit with a narrower focus on Lebanon. What makes Marcus’s book stand out, though, is his analysis of both Israel’s and Hezbollah’s strategic and tactical developments, and how the two entities fed off of and inspired the other’s innovations. Rather than simply being another military history, Marcus’s book tracks the development of strategy and tactics, and strikes a rare balance between research rigour, detail, and accessible readability. Additionally, it is unique in that it utilised extensive primary research, including Hebrew and Arabic interviews with key Israeli security, and Lebanese Hezbollah officials. A particular challenge of this book is the rapidly changing environment it analyses, but Marcus has risen to it. The reader does not feel as if recent developments have been overlooked or gone unconsidered, but I look forward to any future editions which may be published.

About the Author
Daniel J. Levy is a graduate of the University of Leeds and Oxford, where his academic research primarily focused on Iranian proxies in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine. He is the Founding Director and Lead Consultant of the Ortakoy Security Group, and has contributed editorial pieces to The Times of Israel, Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, and Israel Policy Exchange. In his free time, he enjoys reading, running, and cooking. He can be followed on Twitter @danielhalevy.