From the Yom Kippur War through the last spring’s Gaza conflict, Israel’s enemies have deployed missiles as decisive strategic weapons, often in unprecedented ways. It is likely that a future conflict with Hizballah will involve massive volleys of advanced missiles from Lebanon, Gaza, and perhaps elsewhere as well. Brigadier General Eran Ortal, who heads the IDF’s internal think tank, argues that the Jewish state has not yet implemented an appropriate set of doctrines for confronting this new kind of warfare. To do so, he encourages the use of sensors and other high-tech tools, including what has been dubbed “the battlefield Internet of things,” combined with the old-fashioned deployment of ground forces:
Two elements make it difficult to fight a missile-based force. First, the missile allows its operator to remain hidden, at least most of the time. The second challenge is lethality: Hamas and Hizballah missiles are increasingly accurate and lethal. A missile-based adversary deprives Israeli forces of effective targets, while at the same time turning Israeli soldiers into targets. The solution lies in two simple principles. “Turn on the light”—expose the enemy as the result of his need to reveal himself, helped by more sophisticated detection capabilities. Then “extinguish the fire”—attack the missile launchers (and intercept missiles already launched) in the short periods during which they are exposed.
The enemy’s weakness is, in fact, that its whole purpose on the battlefield is to launch and fire. During most of the battle, enemy forces will be in hiding. . . . While Israeli forces have invested tremendous effort locating hideouts and attempting to hunt down enemies moving covertly between positions, they have not effectively taken advantage of the fact that an individual becomes visible at the moment of firing or launching. This missed opportunity is exacerbated when one considers that radar location and optical launch detection are simple and cheap solutions that cover large areas.
A “turn on the light and extinguish the fire” maneuver would be able to attack deep into enemy territory to conquer main nerve centers and inflict a decisive defeat, while suppressing enemy rockets and missiles launched nearby toward Israeli forces and toward the home front. The force would protect itself and the home front from missiles and rockets. It would also avoid more traditional, complex, and risky seek-and-destroy missions by striking only selected targets, thereby shortening the battle. If necessary, fire suppression assets could also be deployed outside the main force’s path of advance, supported by dedicated assault and security forces.