Israel has been facing, successfully, a constant military threat from its very inception in 1948. However, the nature of the threat has been drastically transformed at least three times in this period. In the beginning the structure was that of total war, during the struggle for independence. Later it transpired to a long period of symmetric wars. Presently Israel faces mostly the asymmetric model. Since the 1st Lebanon War of 1982 the scene is characterized clearly by an active threat of non-state entities who constantly aspire to change the status quo by terrorist means. The civilian population and infrastructure is now the primary target, threatened chiefly by high trajectory weapon systems of different kind and range. This dramatic transformation, coupled with an emerging nuclear threat from Iran, who tirelessly supports the radical entities in our region, necessitates an accommodating shift in the Israeli military thinking and consequently its force buildup.
Traditionally, there have been three pillars which are recognized to be the basis for the Israeli defence strategy: Early Warning (with the needed emphasis on intelligence), Deterrence (robust offensive capabilities), and Clear Cut Victory (which has become more difficult to sustain with the changing features of the international environment).
These principles remained valid in the change of circumstances. However, they have to be modified to face the new challenges and nuances. They also have to give ample space to the added principle of Homeland Defence, active, passive, or social. This is not an easy matter. There is an ongoing internal controversy regarding the needed balance of security investments. Conservative thinking and power politics play their natural role to hinder the construction of the strategic response model.
BG (ret.) Meir Elran is the Director of the Homeland Security Program at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) of the Tel Aviv University.
Formerly the Deputy Director of the IDF Military Intelligence, Elran has an active and long experience in the field of disaster management, both as a senior practitioner as the Chief of Staff of the Tel Aviv Municipality; as a senior strategic consultant – among others to the Israeli National Security Council, the IDF, the Ministry of Internal Security and the Israeli National Police; and as a researcher at INSS. His interest in Consequence Management followed a long career in the Israeli Military Intelligence, where he served, among other positions, as the head of evaluation in the Production Division, as the Intelligence Officer of the Southern Command and as the Deputy Commandant of the National Defence College.
Elran has edited two books (on the Second Lebanon War and on Managing Chaos) and published numerous analytical papers on the issues of Homeland Security. He is a frequent speaker in academic and other professional conferences worldwide. Also, Elran is the initiator and coordinator of the Israeli Network of Resilience Researchers and of the International Resilience Researchers Network (IRRN), which held its inaugural international conference in December 2010 in Washington DC, under the sponsorship of the US Department of Homeland Security.
Elran has a BA degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Political Science and an MA degree from Indiana University in Russian Studies and International Relations. In 2009 he was a Senior International Fellow with the US NDU's Near East and South Asia Strategic Studies Center.