Israeli general: "Ukraine needs a powerful army whose fighters are equipped with modern technology"

Illustrative photo. A Ukrainian T-84 tank firing during the 2018 Strong Europe Tank Challenge, Germany, 8 June 2018.

In the current situation, it is extremely important for Ukraine to define its priorities in the field of security and defense, and to invest in this sector. At the same time, it is crucial to support creative inspiration and the patriotic upsurge of the nation, shore up the military, and modernize the state. This is the experience of the State of Israel which is relevant to Ukraine, says Major-General Yaakov Amidror, the head of Israel’s National Security Council (2011–2013). During his conversation with Radio Liberty, he shared his thoughts on the correlation between modernizing the state and strengthening its security. The article below originally appeared in Ukrainian on Radio Svoboda’s website.

– At the conference in Kyiv “Israel’s Experience of Nation Building: Lessons for Ukraine” Ukrainians were really most interested in questions relating to the security and defense sector. Ukrainians truly need a powerful army in which modern equipment and technology are used by well trained and motivated fighters. Every year Israel spends money both on equipping the army and training soldiers, and we see how important this is for the state’s combat effectiveness.

Yaakov Amidror.

– Did the Israel Defense Forces, or the army, become one of the strongest in the world thanks only to modern weaponry?

– Of course not. The circumstances were such that the very existence of the State of Israel has depended to the present day on the unity and motivation of its citizens, on its army’s battle worthiness and speed in the response to threats, etc. Take note: military conflicts are constantly erupting on the territory of our country; likewise, we are constantly under threat from terrorist acts. Society is ready to serve the defense of the state, the state is ready to support the community, it offers the opportunity to use modern-day education, innovations, technologies, both for the development of the civilian sector and the development of the security sector. For us it is extraordinarily important to be able to defend ourselves and our country.

– What does the “ability to defend ourselves and our country” mean?

– This is indeed a multidimensional question. Israel is a small country, but from the very beginning we were creating a defense system, at the center of which stands a great army; we have a permanent human reserve with the appropriate training. In other words, in case of need, they can be mobilized quickly, in order to carry out defensive tasks. Secondly, from the beginning of Israel’s existence and its defense sector we began to develop scientific and technical potential in order to satisfy its needs; in fact, the needs of the state.

– And how does it work today?

– Well, in the event of a terrorist attack or aggravation of a situation, for example, in some small corner of Israel, a fighter must inform the commander and give him information on what’s happening. Then the “military pyramid” goes to work; this is when the command on various levels identifies what has to be done in the given place and issues the appropriate orders. At the same time, the faster a decision is made, and the faster fighters respond to the opponent the better, as you may realize. And here we are talking about another, scientific-educational, layer: the better the soldiers on various levels of the “pyramid” are trained and educated, the more competent they will be; the more up-to-date technologies they employ in their tasks the faster and better they will do their job. In other words, the faster security will be restored.

– A reform of the Armed Forces and the entire security sector is taking place in Ukraine. Within the framework of these reforms, and from Israel’s experience and your own personal experience, how important is training for Ukrainian soldiers?

– Personal competence, a level of personal training, patriotism, and motivation of each rank-and-file soldier and officer are the foundation of an army. Modern scientific and technical developments and innovations are the technical superstructure of an army that is “brought together” and maintains these well educated, competent patriot-soldiers and officers. The complete coordination of the military or army “pyramid” and an understanding on the part of the political elite and civil society of the importance of creating precisely this kind of army are the guarantee of successful reforms in the sector of defense and security.


Yaakov Amidror served in the Israel Defense Forces for 36 years (1966–2002). From 2011 to 2013 he headed Israel’s National Security Council and was also an adviser to the deputy prime minister responsible for questions of state security and defense. He is a member of the board of directors of a number of Israeli high-tech companies. Major-General Amidror is also a senior scientific associate of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies.

Bohdana Kostiuk

Originally appeared in Ukrainian on Radio Svoboda.

Translated from the Ukrainian by Marta D. Olynyk.
Edited by Peter Bejger.