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Mission Command in the Israel Defense Forces

Front cover image of Mission Command in the Israel Defense Forces (UNG Press, 2021). A blonde woman who is a member of the Israel Defense Forces.


Brig. General (Ret.) Gideon Avidor

Contributing Authors:

Dr. Eitan Shamir
Admiral Ze’ev Almog
Colonel Shay Shabtai
Dr. Dov Glazer
Lt. General Haim Laskov
Maj. General Israel Tal
Maj. General Doron Rubin
Lt. General Motta Gur
Lt. General Moshe Ya’alon
Colonel Yizhak Ronen
Lieutenant Yosef Gensburg

Brig. General Oded Basyuk
Lt. Colonel Ariel Amihai
Lt. Colonel Idan Morag
Captain Ehud Erell
Maj. General Amos Yaron
Maj. General Yoram Yair
Colonel Boaz Cohen
Brig. General Ofeq Bukhris
Major Vered Vonokor-Hai
Lt. Colonel Yotam Amitai
Colonel Avi Dahan



Print Version



The Israel Defense Forces have relied on mission command since their foundation. This essay collection explores Israel’s military strategy through the understanding of mission command and its relation to command and control. Mission Command in the Israel Defense Forces provides real-world scenarios that used mission command - written by the acting officers themselves.

Mission Command in the Israel Defense Forces is an official AUSA Book Program title.

About the Editor

Brig. General (Ret.) Gideon Avidor recruited to the I.D.F. in 1957 to the Armored Corps. He commanded Tank Company, Battalion, and Brigade. He participated in the Six-Day War as Tank Brigade G3; in the Yom Kippur war, he was the 252nd Division G3. During the Second Lebanon War, he was the Chief Armored Officer. He also commanded the School of Armor, was the DY Armor Corps Commander, the Israeli Defense Attaché, and the Ministry of Defense representative to Singapore, Australia, Papua-New Guinea, New Zealand, and the Philippines. He graduated from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and the I.D.F. National Defense College. He holds a B.A. in History and an M.A. in Urban Geography.

Contributing Authors

Dr. Uzi Ben-Shalom is a military sociologist and applied research with over 20 years of experience in military research. Uzi is a retired LTC in the Israeli Ground Forces Command and an active reservist. His current areas of research and teaching include unit cohesion in mixed gender units, leadership and decision making during terror attacks, and the role of internet traffic in stadium violence in sport. During his military service, he was responsible for writing the I.D.F. leadership doctrine. Uzi is the chair of the sociology and anthropology department at Ariel University and co-chair of the military and security community in the Israeli Sociological Association.

Dr. Eitan Shamir is a senior Lecturer at the Political Science Department, Bar Ilan University and a Senior Research Associate with the Begin Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA Center). Prior to his academic position, he was in charge of the National Security Doctrine Department at the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, Prime Minister Office. Before joining the Ministry, he was a Senior Fellow at the Dado Center for Interdisciplinary Military Studies (CIMS) at the IDF General Headquarters. His research interests and publications focus on topics such as strategy, command, military innovation and reforms, and military culture. He is the author of Transforming Command: The Pursuit of Mission Command in the U.S., British, and Israeli Armies (Stanford UP, 2011) as well as the editor, with Prof. Beatrice Heuser, of Insurgencies and Counterinsurgencies: National Styles and Strategic Cultures (Cambridge UP, 2017).

Admiral Ze’ev Almog joined the Nahal Infantry Brigade in 1952 and, in 1954, volunteered for Flotilla 13 where he was qualified as a combatant. In 1968 - 1971 (the War of Attrition), he commanded Flotilla 13. In 1972 - 1974 (the Yom Kippur War), he was commander of the Red Sea Arena. In 1975, he graduated from the US Naval War College and received an M.A. in Strategic Studies and Administration. In 1977–1978, he was a member of the founding team of the National Security College, where he also was an instructor. In 1979 - 1985, he served as Commander of the Israeli Navy and played a major role in shaping Israel’s modern Naval Force. In 1986 - 1995, he rehabilitated the Israel Shipyards, which had been on the verge of bankruptcy and in temporary liquidation, by privatizing it and restoring its profitability. Admiral Almog has published several books, including Bats in the Red Sea (2007); Flotilla 13 (2011, published by the U.S. Naval Press); and Commander Flotilla 13 - The Sails of My Life; 13 Flotilla (2017, in Polish).

Col. Shay Shabtai is an expert and practitioner for more than twenty-five years in Middle East issues, Israel’s national security, intelligence and strategic planning. He served as the head of the Long Term Strategic Planning Department of the I.D.F. Shay received his MA Magna Cum Laude from the Tel Aviv University Executive Program for Middle East studies, is a doctoral student researching the influence of Israel’s intelligence community on the national security strategy, and lectures in Bar Ilan University and the IDC in Herzlia. His current research also includes alternative national strategies, strategic communication and perception management, cybersecurity strategy, and military transformation. He is the strategist of the Konfidas Cybersecurity Consulting firm, which works with Israeli banks, airline and shipping companies, and other leading firms.

Dr. Dov Glazer is an Israeli military historian whose academic focus has been the development of German and Israeli combat doctrine and includes more diverse issues, such as the 16th century Anglo-Spanish intelligence war and the commemoration of fallen soldiers in Israeli settlements’ names.

Lt. General Haim Laskov joined the Haganah as a teenager and served in various units, including Orde Wingate’s Special Night Squads. In 1940, Laskov joined the British Army so that he could participate in World War II. When Israel’s War of Independence erupted in 1948, Laskov assumed responsibility for preparing the framework in which new recruits would be trained. He organized the first officers’ course; in that war, he commanded battalion and brigade in various operations. During the 1956 Sinai Campaign, he commanded the 77th Division, which operated on the Rafah-el-Arish-Kantara front. In 1958, Laskov was appointed Chief of General Staff, replacing Moshe Dayan. Laskov resigned his position of Chief of General Staff in 1961.

Maj. General Israel Tal (Talik) was born in Zephath in 1924. Tal began his military service with the British Army’s Jewish Brigade, serving in Italy during World War II. In the Independence War, he commanded a platoon in the Givati Brigade. Following that war, he served in command and instruction roles. In the Six-Day War, Tal commanded an armored division that fought in northern Sinai. In 1972, Tal was appointed head of the Operations Branch in the General Staff, and, in 1973, he became deputy Chief of Staff, a role in which he served during the Yom Kippur War. In 1974, Tal retired from the I.D.F. and established the Institute for National Security Studies at the Tel-Aviv University. Tal continued to be involved, actually carrying overall responsibility, in the development of the Merkava tank and is considered the “Father of the Merkava” and “Mr. Armored Corps.” General Israel Tal died on September 8, 2010. His book, National Security: The Israeli Experience, was published by Praeger Security International in 2000.

Maj. General Rubin was drafted into the Israeli Defense Forces in 1963. In 1964, he became an infantry officer and returned to the Paratroopers Brigade as a platoon leader. In the Six-Day War, he served as a company commander and fought in the Gaza Strip. During the Yom Kippur War, Rubin commanded the 202 Paratroop Battalion. Later on, he commanded the Israeli Defense Forces’ Officer Candidate School. His next command was as commander of the 35th Paratroopers Brigade. In the 1982 Lebanon War, he led the 500th Brigade. Later on, he commanded the 162nd Division. Afterwards, he was appointed as the head of the Israeli Defense Forces’ Instruction and Doctrine Directorate.

Lt. General Motta Gur joined the Palmach, the underground-armed group of the Jews in the British Mandate of Palestine. He continued serving in the military during the Israeli War of Independence in 1948. Gur served in the Paratroopers Brigade most of his career and became one of the symbols of the “red beret” brigade. In 1965, he was appointed as the head of the operations branch in the general staff of the I.D.F. He later also served as a commander of the I.D.F. commanders’ school. In 1966 Gur was appointed as the commander of the 55th Paratroopers Brigade (Reserve), which he led during the Six-Day War. He was appointed in April 1974 as the 10th I.D.F. Chief of Staff and served in that position until 1978. In 1981 and 1984, he was elected to the Knesset as a member of the Labor Party and served as Minister of Health. In April 1988, he was appointed Minister without Portfolio. After the Labor Party won the 1922 elections, Gur was appointed Deputy Minister of Defense.

Lt. General Moshe Ya’alon recruited to the I.D.F. in 1968 to the paratroopers. He completed his national service in 1971 and retired. He fought in the Yom Kippur War as reservist in the 55th Brigade. After the war, he returned to the I.D.F. as a regular officer in the paratroopers and the special forces. In 1998, he was appointed as commanding officer of Israel’s Central Command. He was serving in this position when the Second Intifada launched in September 2000. Ya’alon was appointed Chief of Staff of the I.D.F. in July 2002. In 2013, he was appointed as the Minister for Defense and served in that position until 2016.

Col. Yizhak Ronen served in the I.D.F. Armored Corps in all command posts from Platoon leader to Brigade commander. He was instructor in the Command and Staff College and Chief of Staff of the Northern Command. His last assignment was the Division Chief of Staff. He was Research Associate at the Begin Heritage Center. Ronen holds a B.A. (distinguished) from the College of Management Academic Studies and an MA from Haifa University.

Lieutenant Yosef Gensburg was recruited to the I.D.F. in 2011. He serves as an instructor in the I.D.F. Officers School.

Brig. General Oded Basyuk recruited to the I.D.F. Armored Corps in 1991, commanded the tank battalion and tank brigade, and later was the head of the Operation Department at the I.D.F. J3 Division when then he commanded a Division at the Goal Heights. He holds an LL.B in law and an M.A. in business management.

Lt. Colonel Idan Morag recruited to the I.D.F. Armored Corps in 2000 and commanded the tank company and tank battalion. As Company Commander during the Second War in Lebanon (2006), he was awarded the Medal of Distinguished Service.

Udi Erell graduated from the Naval College and served 23 years in the Israeli Navy in various command posts at sea as well as heading the technological naval capabilities branch. His last post was as Commander of the Red Sea Naval Area. He retired with the rank of Navy Captain. Post retirement, he managed two public owned companies charged with developing and operating tourism and marine related infrastructure. He founded and manages MatysOnBoard Ltd., which specializes in satellite-based communication solutions for vessels. He is the naval consultant at Israel Aerospace Industries. He holds a degree in economics and business administration from Bar-Ilan University.

Maj. General Amos Yaron joined Nahal in 1957. During the Six-Day War, he served as the operations officer of the reserve 55th Paratroop Brigade that fought in Jerusalem. In January 1971, he commanded one of the forces that raided Lebanon during Operation Bardas 20, Operation Bardas 54 - 55, and Operation Spring-of-Youth. Between 1978 and 1980, Yaron established Division 720 (Judea Division, a reserve division that operated from 1978 and 2004. In 1981, he was appointed to chief officer of infantry and paratroopers. In 1986, Yaron was appointed as military attache to the United States and Canada, a position he held until 1989. Yaron was Israel Defense Forces Major General and former head of the Manpower Directorate. He served as the Director General of the Ministry of Defense from 1999 until 2005.

Maj. General Yoram Yair drafted into the I.D.F. in 1963. He volunteered as a paratrooper in the Paratroopers Brigade. In 1964 after completing Officer Candidate School and returned to the Paratroopers Brigade as a platoon leader. In the Six-Day War he served as a company commander in the Gaza Strip. During the Yom Kippur War, Yair took command of the 50th Paratroop Battalion and led it through the battles in the Golan Heights and in the Sinai Peninsula. Later, he commanded a reserve Paratrooper Brigade and the I.D.F.’s Officer Candidate School. In the 1982 Lebanon War, he led the 35th Paratroopers Brigade during heavy fighting against PLO operatives and the Syrian army. Afterwards, he commanded the Division in counter-guerrilla operations in South Lebanon. From 1992 to 1995, he was the head of the I.D.F.’s Manpower Directorate. Later, he served as Israel’s military attache in the United States.

Col. Boaz Cohen recruited to the armored corps and later served as a platoon, company and battalion commander. In 2001, he was appointed commander of the 188th Brigade. He later served as a military attaché in the United States and was a Northern Command Operation Officer during the Second Lebanon War. Today, he is vice-chairman of land systems at Elbit Corporation.

Brig. General Ofeq Buchris recruited to the I.D.F. in 1988 to the Golani Brigade (Infantry). He served as Company Commander, Battalion Commander, and was involved in many operations, including Defense Shield in Jenin. In 2010, he was appointed as the Golani Brigade Commander. Later he was appointed as Division Commander and the Command and Staff College. He retired from the I.D.F. in 2016. He is a graduate of the U.S. Army War College. He holds a B.A. and an M.A. from the Hebrew University Jerusalem.

Major Vered Vinokor-Chai is Organizational Consultant, at the I.D.F. Behavior Sciences Department.

Lt. Colonel (Ret.) Yotam Amitay is Organizational Consultant who serves in the I.D.F. Behavior Sciences Department. His last assignment was the Head of Senior Officers assessment branch.

Colonel Avi Dahan recruited to the I.D.F. in 1993 and served as Infantry company commander as well as Combat Engineers Commander, was Battalion Commander during the Second Lebanon War, was the I.D.F. Liaison officer with the USMC, then Brigade Commander, and DY Division Commander. He graduated from the I.D.F. National Defense College.

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As a partner to the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Book Program, UNG Press will aid AUSA’s educational mission by producing high-quality books to be designated as “AUSA Books.” These books will address such subjects as military land power and land warfare history, technology, combat, and strategy and tactics. This curated collection will serve to help and educate members of the U.S. Army, the Department of Defense, the AUSA, U.S. government officials, and the general public. To further these goals, AUSA will promote UNG Press’s AUSA Books by linking them to AUSA’s website, listing them in AUSA publications as a member benefit, and reviewing them in ARMY magazine or other AUSA publications.

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