Israel does not have the World’s the biggest army. But it is the most effective. Think about it. We are talking about a country with less than 9 million inhabitants. Nonetheless, they have won wars against countries 10 times bigger. […]
Israel does not have the World’s the biggest army. But it is the most effective. Think about it.
We are talking about a country with less than 9 million inhabitants. Nonetheless, they have won wars against countries 10 times bigger. For example, during the 6 days war, Israel confronted a coalition that included EGYPT, SYRIA and JORDAN. All of these countries put together summed up to more than 130 million people. And they sent over 240,000 soldiers: twice as much as the Israeli army did.
In other words: no one would expect a victory for Israel. But history was rather different. In just 6 days, the Israeli Defense Forces, also known as IDF, wiped out their enemies.
And yes, I know what you are going to say now. The Israelis have the best technology and weaponry, right?
Well… that is true now but it wasn’t back then. For instance, in 1973, during the YOM KIPPUR war, Israel’s weapons were as modern as those of their main rival, SYRIA. In fact, the IDF had some combat jets manufactured in the 50s, the famous A4 Skyhawk.
However, the Syrians had state of the art anti-aircraft missiles, the S 200. They were given to the Syrians by the Soviets just 5 years before. And who won that war?
Exactly! Israel! OK, OK… now I can hear you saying but Israel has the support of America!!! That’s a really big help!!!’ And… yes, in this point you are right. Israel is the country that receives the most help from Uncle Sam.
BUT… do you know of any other country who buys the best weaponry from America?
Saudi Arabia! The Saudis have an army as big and modern as the Israeli one. Saudi army when they had to fight guerrilla warriors, namely, those HOUTHIE rebels from Yemen.
In other words, neither the technology, nor the American supports are enough to explain why the Israeli army is such a fearful one. So today the question is…
Why is the Israeli army so powerful?
What are the key elements explaining such a military success?
Today we are going to tell you the 5 key facts that explain this.
FAST DECISION MAKING
Every army is based on hierarchy and authority, right? Well… some of them are more flexible than others. In this other video, we explained you how the Saudi army has a bigger sense of hierarchy and the officials don’t have much power to make their own decisions.
The same goes with other Arab countries like SYRIA or EGYPT. So, here is an example. Imagine a Syrian unit defending a position.
Let’s say their headquarters have been destroyed before the soldiers in the front line are aware of it. If they have to follow the normal procedure, they will have to wait until someone gives them an order.
During this time, they don’t know if they should retreat, strike back or coordinate with other military units. And now you might wonder Why are the Arab armies so centralized?
Don’t forget that most of those countries are dictatorships or absolute monarchies. If you are a tyrant, you want your army to be under your control, to micromanage every little decision in order to prevent a coup d’etat.
The Israeli army is way different from this. Let’s get back to the previous example. In this case, the Israeli commander on the front line wouldn’t need to wait for orders. He has a degree of decision making power.
So he can react immediately and seize the time and the opportunities. In fact, this is pretty normal in all Western armies. The big planning is centralized but the execution is decentralized. This way, the organization is more flexible and can react more quickly.
But, unlike the Western countries, Israel has something unique in their culture. We are talking about a pretty unknown fact about this country but, yet, a very important one.
Israel is the least hierarchical country on the planet, and you can feel this in every aspect. Inside of an Israeli company, it’s pretty normal for an average worker to have a discussion with his boss.
Debates are a common thing and there is a pretty small sense of authority. Actually, in the 70s, a Dutch anthropologist named GEERT HOFSTEDE studied the power relationships in different countries.
Over the course of 6 years, he surveyed IBM workers in different offices around the globe. This is how the ‘POWER DISTANCE INDEX’ was born.
And among all those countries, Israel has the lowest power distance, while the Arab countries like EGYPT or SAUDI ARABIA rank among the highest. In other words, Israeli citizens are educated in flexibility more than any other nation.
In Israel, military service is mandatory for every citizen, regardless of their social condition or their gender. Both men and women, rich and poor start from the bottom. Well… in fact, this is not exactly true.
The ultra-orthodox Jews don’t need to do this military service and the Palestinian population is discriminated against. But the rest of Israel’s citizens must serve in the military, and fall into a meritocratic scheme.
This means, everyone must follow the same rules in order to be promoted. And this is not as common as you might think. For instance, during World War II, the aristocrats who joined the British Army started with higher positions than the peasants and the Working class.
And, of course, such elitism tends to destroy an army’s morale and make it harder for it to function. And the same happens in today’s Arab armies. For example, the Saudi army consists of both civil servants and members of the Royal family. And hierarchy matters a lot. The son of a Saudi prince will never be a soldier.
And, as you can imagine, this classist structure has negative consequences. Consequences that have a lot to do with the same key fact.
In the year 1973, Israel fought the Egyptian and the Syrian army at the same time. As we said at the beginning, back then, Israel was not the technological powerhouse it is today. Syrians had those S 200s we mentioned before.
And during the first days, those anti-aircraft missiles destroyed a lot of Israeli combat jets. Israel had to retreat. Nonetheless, Uncle Sam was here to help. The White House sent a Package of weapons so they could neutralize the S 200s and the radars. Things like FLARES that could confuse the smart missiles that were guided by temperature.
This way, the Israelis struck back and, in little time, they finished the Syrian defenses. And… guess what happened next! Well, a lot of those Arab soldiers, scared of being wiped out from the air, they defected.
Defection is common when morale is low. And this is a common problem for Arab armies. 20 Syrian troops defect to southern Turkish province of Hatay Think about it… if you are an Israeli soldier, or an American one, you know you must be loyal to your country.
But Arab soldiers have too many ethnic, national and religious identities. Imagine you are a Syrian soldier and, at the same time, you are a KURD, or you belong to the Muslim brotherhood.
Both groups are chased by the Syrian government. So who are you loyal too?
Of course, the army pays your bills but… when your life is at risk and everything is lost… What is more important? Your salary or your life? On other words… no matter your wealth and your technology, if your soldiers are not strongly motivated, you have already lost.
And the Israelis know this better than anyone… You will learn it now too…
All tanks place their engines on the backside. Why?
Because usually, the rockets hit on the front side and you want your tank to keep working even after being hit. This is why all the models, from the German LEOPARDS to the Russian T 90s keep their engines on the backside. Nonetheless, the Israeli army doesn’t value the vehicle as much as their soldiers.
This is why, the Israeli MERKAVA is the only one of its kind that has the engines on the front side. This way, a rocket on the front side will destroy the tank. Putting aside the ethics, Israel has a really small population. That means that they can’t allow themselves to lose too many soldiers. This is why they receive much more intense training, with real bullets and better equipment.
Don’t forget this is the country where KRAV MAGA, one of the most advanced martial arts, was born. You can see this human capital doctrine reflected in their intelligence service, the MOSSAD. It is considered one of the best in the entire world.
And if one day you happen to travel to Israel, you should know that they will take your phone number and other data because they know information is power.
MADE IN ISRAEL
During the 80s, the Israeli Government wanted a secret weapon. A weapon no one had ever heard of until recently. So they met a local manufacturer, a company called RAFAEL, to design a very special vehicle, the so called PEREH.
This is a vehicle that looks like a tank but, in fact, is a tank hunter weapon with a big rocket launcher. If you know about weapons, you know there is a big difference.
Tanks have a reach of between 2 and 4 kilometers. PEREH rockets can reach a distance of 30 kilometers. So imagine the situation. The enemies would take satellite pictures to see the Israeli weaponry. And they would see a lot of normal tanks.
Based on this, they would plan their strategy. But then, surprise! Those tanks are not tanks but, in fact, something with a much bigger reach. For decades, this PEREH was one of the most mysterious weapons of the Israeli army.
And their main strength was that no one knew anything about them! So now the question is home come Israel makes its own secret weapons and other countries don’t? The answer is that in Israel there are lots of rocket science companies that make a world class defense industry.
Do you remember this video where I told you about the Israeli startups? In the 80s, the Israeli government created a special program, the so called YOZMA. This program consisted of 10 hedge funds with both, private and government money.
Those funds helped to create lots of tech companies. And do you know what was the favorite industry for those brand new startups? Of course! The military industry! At the end of the day, the army was a rich and reliable client.
All of a sudden, dozens of weapon manufacturers were born. Companies that created customized products that met the exact needs the Israeli army had at any given moment. From the IRON DOME defense system to the MERKAVA tanks or the PEREH we mentioned before.
Nonetheless… What happened in the other countries? What happened in Saudi Arabia? As you know, the Saudi economy has a problem: it relies heavily on the oil industry. Of course, thanks to the dinosaur juice, the Saudis have become rich and they can pay for the 3rd biggest army in the World, only surpassed by China and America.
But expensive is not a synonym for good. The Saudi army buys their tanks from the USA, and those are customized for the needs of the American army. Besides, that makes it harder to have a secret weapon because everyone knows what you bought on the international market.
And yes, I know what you are thinking. It seems we are talking marvels about the Israelis, right?
Make no mistake; the Israeli army has its weak points. In fact, there is an organization that could make their life harder. But we will talk about it in another post. Now the question for you is… Who do you think can defeat the Israeli army?
What do you think their weak points are? Please, leave your answer in the comment section below.