There is no doubt that the IDF in the coming days or hours will be entering Gaza for the largest operation we’ve ever seen. Since I last checked, over 300,000 Reserve reservists have been called up, many of them combat soldiers who will be shortly penetrating Gaza. What we’re about to see is some of the most bloody door-to-door, neighborhood to neighborhood fighting that the IDF has ever experienced – more so than Lebanon in 2006 or Operation Defensive Shield in 2002.
There are important questions that we need to be asking our Generals and political leadership for the sake of both our active duty soldiers as well as our reservists who are going to fight this war.
The first question I have for military leadership is, do our combat soldiers have the equipment that they require? Ceramic vests (especially ones that are not over a decade old) are often the very difference between a 7.62 round piercing and shredding your internal organs vs. slamming into your body armor, knocking the wind out of you and maybe breaking a rib. We’ve seen time and time again that IDF flak vests that have been pulled out from emergency stocks are old and inefficient against not only bullets but even shrapnel from mortars and rockets. We need to demand from the IDF generals that every soldier that is entering into the Gaza Strip has a full kit of protective gear that includes:
- Ceramic vests.
- Modern Combat helmets.
- Night Optics.
- And first aid equipment. No one wants to hear this but the brutal truth is that the use of modern tourniquets can be the difference between a soldier bleeding out from a shot to the leg or arm or the lifesaving measure that staunches the flow of blood, saving the soldiers life (but maybe not the limb).
The second question we need to be asking ourselves is what vehicles are we allowing to go into the Gaza Strip? In 2014 we saw Nagmashim (known as the M113) – an ancient APC that has been active since the Vietnam War and Yom Kippur War – used deep in Gaza. As we saw back then a simple RPG – not even an advanced anti-tank missile – ( which Hamas has no shortage of either) can easily pierce and kill or wound everyone inside one of those ancient death boxes. We need to be asking the hard questions, like how will soldiers be transported into the front lines and more importantly, deep into enemy territory. Israel has advanced Merkava tanks and Namers APCS many of which have the “Windbreaker” anti-rocket and anti-missile defense system. A question we need to be asking ourselves is, how many of our vehicles inside will be equipped with these? If we are lacking these anti-missile defensive systems we also need to be asking ourselves what can be done for rapid installation into all possible vehicle platforms? Can the arms industry of Israel bring the production lines to full capacity to churn out as many as possible? When I was in active duty and later in the reserves the ongoing joke was, even a Kalashnikov round or a stone thrown hard enough against a M113 would be enough to destroy it. Hamas knows this too and will be selective of its targets when attacking us.
The third question, and perhaps one of the most important ones we need to asking ourselves is how are our soldiers being prepared for this upcoming war? Even before the brother in arms protests, your average reserve duty soldier and even active conscript can often be months or years away from their latest Urban Warfare training. Much of our active duty combat forces we’re focused and stationed in the West Bank, an area of operation that requires a very different mentality and training. We need to make sure that every combat soldier that is going into Gaza has urban combat warfare training fresh in their minds, that they know how to check every corner, that they know how to look for and identify and avoid IEDs. Will your average combat soldier be given doctrine on how to avoid snipers, anti-tank missiles and IEDs?
The fourth question has to do with the modernity of Hamas and the paradigm shift of combat that has happened over the past 2 years. Hamas is no joke, they’ve been watching the Ukraine-Russian war just as we have. They have understood that small devices such as common drones can be used to fly over troops quietly to drop mortars and bombs on them. What equipment have we disbursed among our troops to counter these drones? Do our troops have training to know how to identify the buzzing sound that is quickly followed by an explosion? There has been a paradigm shift in warfare here and it is always said that the army will always act reactively instead of proactively. We must demand that the military leadership trains its ground level soldiers and commanders to expect and predict these new forms of warfare.