ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 146

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IDF set to focus on Iran, become ‘AI powerhouse,’ says Defense Ministry chief

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (left) and Defense Ministry Director General Eyal Zamir (right) are seen during the launch of the Ofek-13 reconnaissance satellite, March 29, 2023. (Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (left) and Defense Ministry Director General Eyal Zamir (right) are seen during the launch of the Ofek-13 reconnaissance satellite, March 29, 2023. (Defense Ministry)

Defense Ministry Director-General Eyal Zamir hints that the primary focus of Israel’s military development plans in the coming years is Iran, announcing that the ministry is embarking on the “Depth Multi-year Plan.”

A multi-year plan is the guiding framework for investment and procurement, and reflects the primary threats Israel expects to face in the coming years.

The Depth plan refers to the “range of operations,” explains Zamir at the Herzliya Conference, a not-so-subtle reference to Iran.

The plan is designed “to widen, broaden and deepen our capabilities regarding the ranges of what is called ‘the third circle,'” says Zamir, a former IDF deputy chief of staff.

The “third circle” refers to the most distant of the direct threats facing Israel, the first circle being small terror groups within Israel and on the country’s borders, like Hamas; the second being larger threats, like the Syrian army and Hezbollah; and the third being countries that do not share a border with Israel, like Iran and Iraq.

A focus on the third circle points to a heavier investment in the Air Force and intelligence.

Named multi-year plans are used by the IDF, not the Defense Ministry, and it may be an indication that the ministry intends to play a more active role in determining the direction of IDF force design. Zamir says that the Defense Ministry and IDF multi-year plans that begin this year are fully coordinated.

Artificial intelligence will be major part of this investment, Zamir says.

“Our mission is to transform Israel into an AI powerhouse, similar to our role in cybertech,” he says. “Israel is a cyberpower.”

“Some define AI as the next revolution on the battlefield. AI technologies will create many additional capabilities including the operation of platforms in groups and swarms and independently operated combat systems,” he continues, explaining the relevance to the IDF ground forces, which have taken a back seat in Israeli operations in recent decades. “These technologies will integrate into the battlefield and provide an advantage to those who know how to develop them and use them operationally.”

“We are working to establish a dedicated organization focused on AI and robotics. Both are related to each other, and together they are key to solving the emerging challenges around us.”

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