Fight Not the Last War

BEGIN-SADAT CENTER FOR STRATEGIC STUDIES
by Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaacov Amidror
October 20, 2014

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Operation Protective Edge in Gaza against Hamas was, in many ways, an exceptional operation that will probably not repeat itself elsewhere. The IDF fought in a unique set of circumstances: an inferior enemy a stone’s throw from the border with the IDF using its full force, in some cases entirely unopposed. The IDF must be careful not to make too many operational changes based on the lessons of this operation, because the next wars will likely be fought under completely different terms.

Lately, a lot has been said in praise of the way the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) fought in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge. Indeed, great courage and extraordinary sacrifice were displayed during the operation. The commanders led from the front and displayed the kind of vigor that field commanders ought to possess. We have been promised that the IDF will investigate and draw conclusions from the outcomes of this operation, and that is precisely what should be done. No serious, professional institution can ever develop and progress without delving deep into its own actions – for better and worse.

However, it is advisable to be very careful with the process of drawing conclusions. The term “conclusions” in the military sense stems from the understanding that it is possible to improve from one battle to the next by learning from mistakes. But in order to actually improve in the future, great care must be taken, because each battle is slightly, or extremely, different than the one that preceded it. There is a high likelihood that a conclusion drawn from one event will not apply to the next…..

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