TEL AVIV — The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is beginning work on a new multiyear modernization road map that takes into account an influx of $38 billion in US-promised grant aid from 2019 through 2028, the military's top planner said on Monday.

Addressing an annual conference here of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin, IDF head of planning (J-5), said the additional US aid – codified in a September 2016 US-Israel memorandum of understanding – allows the military to plan for long-term procurement aimed at preserving superiority through 2030.

"The MoU with the US allows us to plan our force buildup based on this very significant American aid. We aim to translate this into military capabilities … it's a process that we will start in the coming weeks," Norkin said.

The officer noted that just last month, the IDF approved the second year of its current five-year plan – Plan Gideon – which extends from 2016 through 2020 and is based on current US aid levels of $3.1 billion per year. The new plan – based on $3.3 billion in annual Foreign Military Financing (FMF) aid and a flat $500 million each year for missile defense programs – will allow the IDF to plan in a more holistic way, integrating modernization needs across all service branches and combat disciplines.

"Force buildup used to be done within the service branches, and the connection between them was not influential. Today we understand that force implementation demands interoperability; not just in the operational sense, but in the materiel we choose to invest in," Norkin said.

According to the officer, the new IDF 2030 plan -- to be crafted concurrently to implementation of the existing Plan Gideon -- will enable the IDF to leap to the end of the next decade by focusing on 12 key areas; each of which will be closely synchronized and coordinated by the IDF General Staff.

He identified the 12 core competencies as: cyber, intelligence, ground maneuver, network centric warfare, air superiority, aerial defense, multi-dimensional strike, deep raid (long-range special operations), border security, naval defense, logistics, and the so-called war between wars.

"If we believe that the Mideast ten to 15 years from now will change, then we need to know how to adapt while preserving superiority … The IDF, together with Israeli industries, are looking at a blend of technology, concepts, processes and organization; all of which will allow us to realize our leap strategy," Norkin said.

As for the current Plan Gideon, Norkin shared the vision driving the military's estimated $40 billion modernization blueprint: It calls for the IDF to be "prepared and ready to rapidly deploy its forces from the air, sea, ground and cyber domains against any adversary, and to be preeminent in all modes of conflict and decisive in war."

Moreover, the plan envisions a military that "generates high quality, balanced and versatile competencies to effectively cope with future threats and adversaries."

As for training and values, the vision prescribes "well-trained, agile, innovative and dedicated units and individuals which maintain a military culture of efficiency and modesty; enjoys the public trust and constantly strengthens the enduring bonds with the full spectrum of Israeli society from which it is drafted."

Opall-Rome is Israel bureau chief for Defense News. She has been covering U.S.-Israel strategic cooperation, Mideast security and missile defense since May 1988. She lives north of Tel Aviv. Visit her website at

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