Artificial intelligence applications in IDF combat strategy

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For Israel‭, ‬artificial intelligence is a technological field of great importance in terms of security‭, ‬as it has become one of the most prominent areas in which it enjoys a significant foothold and leadership‭, ‬thanks to the start-ups that are growing in the country‭, ‬as well as the establishment of centers for the development of international companies in Israel‭. ‬In recent years‭, ‬the topic of artificial intelligence has also begun to gain a large share in the field of security solutions‭, ‬as these applications are integrated into many security technologies to enhance their capabilities(1‭).‬

This made Israel possess a number of unique characteristics that affect these aspects‭, ‬especially in the Israeli army‭. ‬The following study presents the axes of artificial intelligence applications in the combat strategy of the Israeli army‭, ‬as follows‭:‬

Artificial intelligence and its security applications‭:‬

AI technologies in the security field enable a variety of applications‭, ‬including in the field of intelligence‭, ‬for example‭: ‬systems capable of scanning vast amounts of data and identifying targets‭, ‬as well as logistical applications that allow optimization and resource saving‭, ‬and autonomous driving‭, ‬which they also have capabilities in the security realm‭, ‬such as those in the civilian sphere and even beyond‭, ‬as well as autonomous weapon systems that in turn allow for improved accuracy and reduced risk for‭ ‬the combatants who use them‭, ‬as well as systems for planning and support for decision-making and simulation‭. ‬This in turn made‭ ‬it possible to improve and shorten the planning and decision-making processes in the stages before performing tasks‭, ‬based on huge amounts of data that could not be analyzed before‭. ‬In addition to other uses‭, ‬including those related to command and control‭ ‬systems that allow dealing with big data from different sources‭.‬

In addition to uses in cyber warfare and cyber defense‭, ‬two of the leading areas in the use of artificial intelligence‭, ‬for the‭ ‬purposes of attack and defense‭, ‬as well as in dealing with amounts of data and rates that exceed human capabilities‭, ‬in order to‭ ‬enable prediction and response as well as disaster management‭, ‬including the ability to use huge databases or various sensors in order to perform the aggregation of information‭, ‬resulting in insights that cannot be accessed by other means‭.‬

In addition‭, ‬there are techniques supported by artificial intelligence and various applications in the field of human-machine interaction‭, ‬which aim to shorten the time between receiving information by a human and assisting in decision-making and transferring it back to the device‭. ‬These capabilities and applications reinforce the close link between AI technology and national security in general‭, ‬and national security in Israel in particular‭. ‬This‭, ‬in turn‭, ‬is in line with Israel’s concept of national security in its broad aspects‭, ‬even those that go beyond military concepts‭, ‬and in accordance with the army’s strategy‭.‬

Employment of artificial intelligence in the Israeli army‭:‬

The idea that war is based on technology and that it will replace physical strength and human presence on the ground initially aroused a source of alarm and even opposition among the Israeli army‭, ‬but many experts in the field of artificial intelligence have confirmed in their estimates‭, ‬with the start of employing technologies that the integration of artificial intelligence in the‭ ‬combat strategy of the Israeli army‭, ‬not with the aim of replacing soldiers in the field‭, ‬but by understanding their potential‭ ‬in fighting efficiency and thus achieving more effectiveness and efficiency on the battlefield‭.‬

To develop and absorb artificial intelligence techniques‭, ‬it required them in the Israeli army‭, ‬unique and trained manpower‭, ‬including information engineers to transmit complex information to them‭, ‬as well as analysts to retrieve data from databases and present it to consumers in an accessible and understandable manner‭. ‬Indeed‭, ‬the Israeli army has taken practical steps today to develop the manpower of these professions through the paths of excellence for distinguished soldiers and reserve officers in the field‭. ‬However‭, ‬in light of the lack of manpower specialized in these fields‭, ‬it may naturally result in demand and supply operations that will directly affect the brain drain from the Israeli army‭, ‬especially in the first ranks‭ (‬2‭).‬

By analyzing the four basic elements of the Israeli security concept‭, ‬which are‭ (‬deterrence‭, ‬warning‭, ‬decisiveness‭, ‬and defense‭)‬‭, ‬it turns out that artificial intelligence has the ability to positively influence the ability to achieve and maintain each of‭ ‬these elements‭, ‬by integrating them into different military systems or producing innovation‭.‬

Artificial intelligence has also contributed significantly to achieving a large part of the goals presented in the IDF Strategy‭ ‬‭(‬2018‭) ‬by former Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot‭. ‬That strategy enumerated four basic types of efforts related to any military operation‭: (‬offense‭, ‬defense‭, ‬assistance‭, ‬and empowerment‭) ‬in order to enhance each of these efforts due to the importance of technological superiority and artificial intelligence‭, ‬which is a major area that contributes to maintaining superiority‭.‬

For example‭, ‬AI is already used in air defense systems‭, ‬and it has a significant impact on the defense effort‭. ‬As well as the widespread use of artificial intelligence in the areas of intelligence and information technology‭, ‬which helps to improve capabilities related to the aspect of warning‭.‬

Artificial intelligence has also contributed greatly to assisting the Israeli army in the field of learning and operational planning contained in the army’s strategy‭, ‬including planning and simulation systems‭, ‬or through the use of technologies‭. ‬It enables‭ ‬conclusions that could not be reached in the past through human effort‭, ‬due to the difficulty of dealing with and analyzing large amounts of data‭.‬

In addition‭, ‬Israel has a comparative advantage in technological fields‭, ‬including unmanned and cyber tools which are evident security areas‭.‬

Combining them with artificial intelligence as a force multiplier greatly helps Israel in maintaining and expanding national security‭, ‬whether through military means or through other economic and international influences‭ (‬3‭).‬

Therefore‭, ‬artificial intelligence is seen in the Israeli army as a key element among the technologies in the civilian market that have been adapted to the army’s world‭, ‬because of the assistance it provides in the dangerous roles that are currently performed only by humans‭. ‬Therefore‭, ‬combining robots and machines in important tasks related to security is not a simple matter‭, ‬and therefore it is difficult to leave security matters in the hands of the machine‭, ‬so the process is controlled well and gradually until the Israeli army has become able to develop more‭, ‬thanks to the use of this advanced technology in the combat fields‭ (‬4‭) .‬

The effectiveness of artificial intelligence in war‭:‬

Turning to measuring the effectiveness of artificial intelligence in the fields of war‭, ‬we have here taken the‭ ‬“Fences Guard”‭ ‬operation in the Gaza Strip as a model‭, ‬as media reports came a week after the end of the operation‭, ‬quoting the Intelligence Division of the Israeli army‭, ‬dealing with the army’s performance and the effectiveness of its combat strategy against the two Hamas movements and the Islamic Jihad in Gaza during‭ ‬the aforementioned military operation‭, ‬thanks to artificial intelligence‭, ‬where they confirmed that for the first time‭, ‬artificial intelligence is a major component and a force multiplier in the fight against these movements‭. ‬According to a senior source in the Military Intelligence Division‭ “‬Aman‭”, ‬this is the first battle of its kind for the Israeli army‭, ‬in which it embodies new‭ ‬and technologically advanced methods of action that multiply the strength of the entire Israeli army‭. ‬The integration of large‭ ‬and diverse intelligence with artificial intelligence and deep communication in the field represented a dramatic transformation‭ ‬in strengthening the intelligence link with the operational side‭.‬

The IDF reportedly said that in contrast to all the military battles that preceded it‭, ‬Operation Fences was characterized by an‭ ‬unprecedented use of artificial intelligence capabilities‭, ‬where the Israeli forces performed an impressive trinity among a long‭ ‬list of capabilities‭, ‬including specialized applications that had been developed to make real-time intelligence accessible to all forces in the field‭, ‬digital attack cells‭, ‬drones‭, ‬warning systems‭, ‬and other intelligence capabilities‭.‬

The operation was based on the creation of the IDF’s‭ “‬Information and Knowledge Foundation‭”, ‬an advanced artificial intelligence‭ ‬technology platform that aims to centralize all the IDF’s information about the enemy in a single platform‭, ‬in order to enable‭ ‬analysis and extraction of information in real time‭.‬

‭ ‬The platform contains about 90%‭ ‬of all the information in the possession of the Israeli army‭, ‬and enables broad capabilities in‭ ‬the areas of defense‭, ‬targets and maneuvers in the combat field‭, ‬which were not in the possession of the Israeli army until recently‭. ‬Under the leadership of Unit 8200‭, ‬three main systems were developed for the success of the program‭, ‬including the‭ “‬Alchemist‭” ‬and‭ “‬Depth of Wisdom‭”, ‬which were used during the fighting‭.. ‬As for the third system‭, ‬which was developed through the men‭ ‬of Unit 8200‭, ‬it is a system that generates recommendations for targets through artificial intelligence for targeted researchers‭ ‬in the Research Department of the Military Intelligence Division‭ (‬Aman‭) ‬in military commands and divisions‭.‬

‭ ‬The researcher agrees with the recommendations of the system and works according to them in order to continue and produce other‭ ‬qualitative goals for the fighting forces‭ (‬5‭).‬

Challenges in the field of artificial intelligence‭:‬

In light of the challenges arising from international competition‭, ‬and despite the many advantages and opportunities that have proven to be effective in the combat strategy of the Israeli army‭, ‬artificial intelligence technology poses a variety of challenges for Israel‭, ‬which require decision-makers to deal with in this field‭. ‬Including‭:‬

1‭ ‬Technical challenges‭: ‬They include challenges in development‭, ‬as there are still some difficulties in adapting civilian technology to military use‭, ‬including the lack of raw data‭ (‬data‭), ‬as well as the difficulty of explaining the results of operating an‭ ‬artificial intelligence system because it is a‭ “‬black box‭”.‬

2‭ ‬Organizational challenges‭: ‬These include the need for allocated budgets‭, ‬investment and management of human resources‭, ‬and dealing with Israel as a small country with limited resources‭.‬

3‭ ‬Challenges in use‭: ‬include difficulties in adapting the pace of the environment or the people using these systems to their high capabilities‭, ‬the difficulty of systems in adapting to new environments in which they have not been trained‭, ‬challenges in the‭ ‬field of security and reliability of systems‭, ‬ethical challenges are the biases generated by information‭, ‬as well as using these systems to produce‭ “‬false information‭” ‬that appears reliable‭.‬

4‭ ‬Security and political challenges‭: ‬including the international arms race‭, ‬the difficulty of agreeing with weapon‭ -‬control systems in the field and their applications‭, ‬as well as their vulnerability to cyber attacks or other manipulations‭ (‬6‭).‬

In the midst of the Israeli decision-maker’s dealing with these challenges‭, ‬we would like to point out that the annual government investment in the field amounts to 1-2‭ ‬billion shekels of the total investment in Israel‭, ‬while to make it an artificial intelligence power and one of the five leading countries in the world‭, ‬it is required to invest 10‭ ‬billion shekels in this area‭ (‬7‭).‬


In conclusion‭, ‬it can be said that despite the advantages and the evidence of artificial intelligence effectiveness in the combat strategy of the Israeli army and the enhancement of its capabilities‭, ‬we will automatically conclude‭, ‬if we look further and more into the past‭, ‬that it was easier in general to evaluate the expected developments in various fields of technology and their‭ ‬impact on the army‭, ‬especially in the future battlefield‭. ‬However‭, ‬the rapid pace of technological developments today makes it‭ ‬very difficult to predict the future over the next decade‭, ‬as important developments are mainly in the field of software and everything related to it such as microelectronics and computers and data science‭, ‬artificial intelligence and the ability to gain insights based on big data‭, ‬“cloud”‭ ‬technologies for data storage‭, ‬cyber‭, ‬and communications as well as advances in military hardware such as weapon systems and combat support equipment that are increasingly evolving‭.‬

In any case‭, ‬it seems that technological development has begun to increasingly reduce the human role in future wars which raises‭ ‬several questions‭: ‬What are the roles of the person behind the systems‭ – ‬intelligence‭, ‬leadership and decision-making‭? ‬Moreover‭, ‬are predictions about the distant future doomed to fail‭? ‬In light of this‭, ‬we conclude that future developments‭, ‬to one degree‭ ‬or another‭, ‬would stem from assessing the actual situation in the battlefield‭, ‬which is still present on the planning schedules‭ ‬by updating the combat strategy according to the requirements of need and technological development‭, ‬which in turn contributes‭ ‬to enhancing capabilities and raising the efficiency of armies and increases both qualitative and technological superiority‭ (‬8‭).‬

Dr‭. ‬Rania Fawzy‭ ‬

‬researcher in Israeli affairs 


Al Jundi

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