The new U.S. defense strategy requires the Department of Defense to address in a serious way the anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) threats that have emerged in East Asia and the Persian Gulf regions. In both regions, U.S. forces face prospective adversaries employing large numbers of relatively simple platforms coupled with sophisticated ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and surface-to-air missiles, sea mines and even unmanned aerial vehicles. By design A2/AD threats are intended to overwhelm their adversaries.
Israel has been struggling for nearly a decade to find ways of countering a similar A2/AD threat. In 2006 it fought the first war in an A2/AD environment. The current state of “peace” involves thousands of rockets being fired from Gaza into Israel every year.
The A2/AD threat to Israel is growing both quantitatively and qualitatively. Hezbollah is widely reported to have deployed as many as 30,000 rockets in Southern Lebanon. It also has built a sophisticated land defense network with anti-tank missiles, mines and booby traps. Shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles may have been acquired by Hamas from Libyan stockpiles.
The A2/AD threat to Israel is evolving to include cyber operations. In recent months, hackers have gone after major Israeli economic targets. Although Israeli defense officials are loath to speak publicly on the subject, there are reports of attacks on military targets including the nuclear complex at Dimona and the public broadcast mobilization system.
Israel is a laboratory for working out approaches to countering A2/AD threats. One lesson from the Israeli experience is the critical role for preferential missile defenses designed to exploit weaknesses in enemy targeting capabilities. Another lesson is the importance of employing a combined arms approach with innovative tactics and techniques to defeat A2/AD threats. A third is to closely coordinate public and private cyber defense resources and operations.
The U.S. is working closely with Israel in the development of advanced, layered missile defenses. Israel companies are pioneering in the field of cyber defense. Lessons from the Israeli laboratory could help the U.S. defeat the A2/AD threats it faces in the Persian Gulf and East Asia.
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