The arrival soon of advanced Russian S-300 missiles could have a emboldening effect on the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, significantly increasing the chances of war.
Air Force Commander Major General Amir Eshel said Wednesday that the missile defense system will soon be in the hands of the Syrian army and “there is a clear understanding that such capabilities will produce confidence and aggressive behavior.”
Speaking at a convention in Herzliya, Eshel explained: “Aerial superiority is a condition to win and win quickly, and is of great strategic importance. The other side understands that well, which is why Assad, with his low budget, has invested billions into purchasing antiaircraft missiles.”
Stressing the volatility of the situation, he warned, “Today, a war can develop in many ways, including single incidents that will force us to activate the entire air force within hours. In 2013, a war can be won, but there aren’t any triumphant knockouts anymore.”
“This does not mean we will act, but it means we must be ready with our planes and missile defense systems. No one is going to tell us ‘take two weeks to prepare for the war.’ We will have to be ready for confrontations in Gaza and Lebanon, including long-range ones. Failure to prepare for this would mean a failure to learn the lessons of the Yom Kippur War.”
Eshel also cautioned against an “overreliance on technology. Those who think we’ll just press ‘Enter’ and win the war are wrong. There won’t be a recipe for the next war. We’ll have to learn to deal with failures and surprises.”