Home inSight Israeli Defense Tech is About to Have a Moment

Israeli Defense Tech is About to Have a Moment

Simone Ledeen
SOURCEReal Clear Defense
Photo: Eurosatory

Join us next week for a webinar with Simone Ledeen where she will update us on the potential of Israeli defense firms and military technology. July 11: The Wide Potential of Israel's Defense Firms

The announcement from France that Eurosatory 2024 in Paris, one of the world’s largest defense and security exhibitions was banning Israeli companies and Israeli nationals from participating has sent shock waves through the defense industry. The Macron government claimed its policy of Judenrein was in response to Israel’s ongoing military operations in Gaza. In marked contrast, Hamas’s sponsor and global terrorism proliferator Iran faces no such ban. Indeed, no other country in the world was banned from Eurosatory but Israel.

The ban affected over 70 Israeli defense firms, including major companies which were scheduled to showcase their latest technologies and weaponry at the event, as well as innovative startups with recently battle tested solutions needed to advance the cause of western civilization on battlefields across the globe​​​​. If these firms are not permitted to sell their products legitimately to friendly partner nations, the less scrupulous among them will turn elsewhere. While a French judge struck down the ban at the last minute, it was already too late for most on the Israeli side to recoup. This is a morally abhorrent moment we must take time to properly understand. This current path leads inexorably to the collapse of western civilization in favor of the Islamists and Marxists who have joined forces against us. The age of short wars is likely over, and we must prepare for protracted conflicts.

John Spencer, Chair of Urban Warfare Studies at the Modern War Institute at West Point, recently noted on X that the lessons learned by Israel in Gaza—from dealing with information warfare in the age of social media to facing an enemy in an urban defense prepared over 15 years—are invaluable and will be studied by militaries (including our own here in the US) for many years. Indeed, our learning from these experiences, including in combating lawfare, human shields, and underground warfare, will significantly enhance the US military’s readiness for future challenges and will save American lives.

Israel’s discovery of Hamas’s extensive tunnel networks in Gaza have revealed a new dimension of warfare. Neither we nor the Israelis understood their sheer scale and scope until the IDF began its military operations there in response to the terrorist attacks of October 7th. These tunnels, used for attacks, smuggling, and evasion, pose a psychological and tactical challenge. The IDF is now developing specific tactics and technology for underground combat, recognizing the need for a comprehensive approach to counter these threats.

Hamas’s underground city beneath Gaza, with its complex network of tunnels, living quarters, and workshops, represents a significant military challenge. Traditional bombardment methods are ineffective against deep tunnels, and alternative strategies such as tunnel flooding face technical limitations. The psychological impact of underground warfare is equally profound. The constant threat of enemy fighters emerging from tunnels creates an environment of perpetual fear and anxiety. This is already evident in areas like Judea, Samaria, and the borderlands of Israel, where residents have reported hearing underground noises at night, fearing the enemy is digging beneath them.

We also see Russian forces using tunnels in Ukraine, further illustrating the tactical advantages of underground warfare. These tunnels and trenches have neutralized the effectiveness of Western weapons and allowed Russian forces to effectively conduct offensive operations and counterattacks. It is no exaggeration to say that a modern army’s ability to conduct underground operations may well be a crucial factor in future conflicts.

It is now clear that over the years Hamas significantly transformed itself through its close collaboration with the Iranian axis.  This axis, which is responsible for the deaths of many Americans over decades of the Global War on Terror, has grown much more confident through the Biden sanctions waivers and the Iranian regime’s growing partnership with Russia. This evolving alliance is reshaping the geopolitical landscape. Not since the Cold War’s end a generation ago have military power and defense capabilities been so vital.

At the same time, and because of these ongoing and expanding conflicts, there is a global munitions shortage. This shortage affects a wide range of munitions, particularly artillery shells, precision-guided munitions, and anti-tank missiles. Here is the stark reality staring us in the face: when it comes to military power, there is no capability without capacity. No country can expect to prevail in war without a robust defense industrial and manufacturing base that can produce weapons and munitions at speed and scale. For instance, we are not producing nearly enough 155mm artillery shells. Scaling up production can take several years, in some cases due to dependencies on specialized materials.  The need for skilled labor is also a significant issue. As new production lines for advanced military equipment take years to set up, the shortage keeps getting worse.

All these challenges demand a collaborative and decisive response if we are to emerge victorious. And it is “we,” not “they,” as this is a global conflict. Israel must continue to adapt and quickly. Integrating their air and space domains is essential for maintaining its regional military superiority. Israel’s reliance on US-supplied aircraft further highlights the need for such integration. Long-endurance logistics and maintenance will pose challenges in Lebanon, straining Israel’s resources in a protracted conflict.

I’m a proud American who served my country in a civilian capacity in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Both of my brothers served in the Marine Corps—one did multiple tours in Iraq and one served in Afghanistan. I share in the collective horror of GWOT veterans who watch our streets being filled with the demonic rage we sacrificed so much to keep on the other side of the world. But here they are. And the time for hiding and cowering is behind us. Now is the time to invest in Israeli defense tech, to partner with and benefit from their combat-tested solutions against our common enemy. Make no mistake—those of us in the West are in deep trouble. This is an all-hands-on-deck scenario. As warfare evolves, we must ensure we are adapting to these changes for our own national security and in partnership with our allies for their own. Investing in the best and most innovative defense technology created by the Startup Nation in a time of expanding global war is not just a wise strategic move, but a moral imperative.

Simone Ledeen is a Venture Partner at Texas Venture Partners and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Middle East.