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November 13, 1987 - Image 86

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-11-13

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

MIDEAST I

Rabin

Continued from Page 84

IS NOW OPEN IN
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86

FRIDAY, NOV. 13, 1987

ficulties for Jerusalem is the
fact that the Arab build-up
came during the first half of
the decade, a time when
Israel itself was suffering
severe economic problems,
which led to an un-
precedented cut in the
defense budget and to a war-
ning by the air force com-
mander that pilot training
hours had fallen "below the
red line."
According to calculations in
Israel, a post-Gulf War coali-
tion of Arab armies — con-
sisting of Syria, Jordan,
Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia,
Kuwait, Libya, Algeria and
Morocco — could field a
ground force of almost two
million men (against Israel's
440,000) and 2,404 combat
aircraft (against Israel's 696).
Moreover, the Arab states
have made massive strides
not only in terms of quantity,
but also in terms of the quali-
ty of their weapons. Thday,
they are capable of deploying
the most sophisticated war
materiel produced by both the
United States and the Soviet
Union.
Saudi Arabia and Egypt
possess state-of-the-art
United States F-15 and F-16
fighter planes and are
awaiting delivery of Europe's
most advanced aircraft, the
Tornado and the
Mirage-2000.
Syria, which has been
equipped with Soviet-made
MiG-25 interceptors and
Sukhoy-22 strike aircraft,
this week took delivery of the
first of its MiG-29s, the most
sophisticated jet fighters in
the Soviet arsenal (which
have also been supplied to
Iraq).
At the same time, Jordan
now possesses the advanced
British Chieftain tank, while
the Egyptians and Saudis are
equipped with the front-line
American tank, the M-60 A3,
and the Syrians with the
sophisticated Soviet T-72.
Another great technological
leap forward has occurred in
the field of self-propelled ar-
tillery. More than half of the
Jordanian and Saudi artillery
pieces are self-propelled,
while Egypt is also moving
heavily in this direction.
Syria, which has placed
great emphasis on the ac-
quisition of sophisticated
missiles for both offensive and
defensive purposes, is receiv-
ing similar weapons from the
Soviet Union, while Iraq and
Libya are being supplied by
Italy and France.
According to the Israeli
analysts, however, this
technological revolution is a
two-edged sword. On the one
hand, the Arab armies now
possess a formidable fighting

potential; on the other, the
equipment could prove to be
too advanced and could ac-
tually impair the quality of
their performance.
Much of this weaponry is
designed for highly complex,
highly mobile warfare and is
based on a military doctrine
that demands a large
measure of delegation to
middle-ranking officers in the
field, an area in which the
Arab armies have shown
themselves to be particularly
vulnerable in the past.
In the short term, at least,
the Arab armies, lacking
either the technical or
military skills necessary to
match such weapons or war-
fare, are unlikely to realize
the full potential of their
super-sophisticated arsenals.
At the same time, Israel,
which has always prevailed
on the battlefield because of
its decisive qualitative edge,
is likely to maintain that ad-
vantage, although the margin
will be significantly
narrowed.
This point was underscored
in an article published in a
Hebrew-language daily last
month by a senior Israeli of-
ficer, Major-General Moshe
Bar-Kochba, who noted that
there had been a reduction in
the qualitative gap between
the Syrian and Israeli high
commands.
Moreover, he wrote, Syrian
officers are now both far bet-
ter trained and better
educated in military theory
and practice than they were
after the 1973 October War.
"The Syrians have done a
good deal to upgrade the
quality of their commanders
through new courses, sup-
plementary courses and ad-
vanced exercises that were
unknown in the past," he
wrote. "This impressive quali-
ty was not at the disposal of
the Arab armies in Israel's
previous campaigns against
them."
At the same time, he con-
tinued, the senior command
in Israel had fallen increas-
ingly behind: "In my view,
the training courses no longer
accord the knowledge, ex-
perience, maturity and pro-
fessional education required
by the senior command under
current and future wartime
conditions."
Israel, he added, would be
able to meet the challenge on-
ly if it enhanced the quality
of its own senior officers and
ensured that they retained a
significant measure of
qualitative superiority over
their Arab counterparts.
Ironically, though, the most
serious danger posed by the
military treasure chest that
has accumulated in the Arab
world is a psychological one.

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