A world-leading military strategist and an IDF insider explain the improbable success of the Israeli armed forces.
When the Israel Defense Forces was established in May 1948, it was small, poorly equipped, and already at war. Lacking sufficient weaponry or the domestic industrial base to produce it, the newborn military was forced to make do with whatever it could get its hands on. That spirit of improvisation carried the IDF to a decisive victory in the First Arab-Israeli War.
Today the same spirit has made the IDF the most powerful military in the Middle East and among the most capable in the world. In The Art of Military Innovation, Edward N. Luttwak and Eitan Shamir trace the roots of this astounding success. What sets the IDF apart, they argue, is its singular organizational structure. From its inception, it has been the world’s only one-service military, encompassing air, naval, and land forces in a single institutional body. This unique structure, coupled with a young officer corps, allows for initiative from below. The result is a nimble organization inclined toward change rather than beholden to tradition.
The IDF has fostered some of the most significant advances in military technology of the past seventy years, from the first wartime use of drones to the famed Iron Dome missile defense system, and now the first laser weapon, Iron Beam. Less-heralded innovations in training, logistics, and human resources have been equally important. Sharing rich insights and compelling stories, Luttwak and Shamir reveal just what makes the IDF so agile and effective.
Rich with rare detail, much of it a result of the authors’ access to the IDF’s inner sanctums and their intimate knowledge of grand strategy and military history.
An incisive, original study of military innovation as it has developed over more than half a century at one of the world’s most redoubtable armed forces, the Israel Defense Forces. Bursting with pertinent information, it is also a pleasure to read. It would be hard to find authors more highly qualified than Luttwak and Shamir to write this book, which should appeal to anyone interested in the modern military.
Until now, no one has adequately explained why the Israel Defense Forces has had such a unique legacy of innovation. Luttwak and Shamir do so in a way that illuminates not only the IDF but also the broader challenges of creativity in war.
Brilliantly reveals the secret to the success of the Israeli military: its capacity for innovation. Luttwak and Shamir, two distinguished historians who know the Israel Defense Forces inside and out, show how the receptiveness to invention and the courage to change course even in the heat of battle have made the IDF one of the world’s most effective armies. Every serving officer in the armed forces of NATO should read this indispensable work.
An important book for anyone interested in understanding how organizations innovate and improve. The saying ‘change or die’ is true for organizations in general, but in the case of the IDF, it is true in the most literal sense. Many armies throughout history have shown a great capacity for change when necessary, but Luttwak and Shamir show that for the Israeli military, innovation is a way of life.
A compelling and important book. In wartime, armed forces must learn and apply what they learn in combat. In between wars, they must learn from the past and anticipate the future. The IDF is the perfect subject for drawing lessons important to developing military organizations that fight and win; Luttwak and Shamir are the perfect authors to illuminate those lessons.
- 288 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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