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Friday, September 24, 2010     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Israel organizing for multi-front regional war

TEL AVIV — Israel's military has been preparing for a sustained regional war.


The military has been restructuring its forces to augment combat units along the borders with Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. Military sources said the units were being reassigned from the West Bank, where they had been conducting police operations.

"One of the most important things is to prepare the Army for the possibility of war in a number of fronts, including the northern front," Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi said.

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The sources said the Army wanted to add at least another 5,000 combat troops over the next year. They said the Army has already reassigned the Kfir Brigade, with about 2,500 troops, from the West Bank to the northern border.

In 2011, the sources said, Kfir would serve alongside more prominent combat brigades such as Givati and Golani. They said Kfir would serve along the Lebanese border and be trained to quickly respond to any hostility from Lebanon and Syria.

The sources said the military has envisioned that the next regional war could last weeks or even months. They cited the prospect that Iran and Syria, with huge arsenals, would be capable of sustaining missile and rocket attacks on the Jewish state.

"The Syrian Army has developed attack capabilities, by combining a number of different threats," Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Benny Gantz said on Sept. 20. "The threats of the past have not changed, but have been added to new, different threats. The scope has grown and the strength is much more significant. This is the trend that the IDF is preparing for, while coping with challenges of mobility and camouflage."

The sources said the military has intensified efforts to coordinate the Army and Air Force for strike operations. They said infantry units have been coordinating with attack helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles and other platforms.

Israel has assessed that war with Hizbullah and Syria could erupt even before 2011. The sources said this could rapidly spread to a multi-front war that would include the Hamas regime in the neighboring Gaza Strip.

Air-ground cooperation was said to have been a key element in an exercise on Sept. 21 in the Golan Heights along the front with Syria. The sources said the exercise demonstrated an infantry advance accompanied by close-air support.

"In this exercise there has been exceptional cooperation between air and ground forces, where pilots have learned the complexities that the ground forces must deal with, so that they can support them from the air," Ashkenazi said.

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