Forces: September 29, 2003


It's gone largely unnoticed since the end of the Cold War, but Israel has, year, by year, increased the gap in combat power between itself and it's Arab neighbors. Now, with Iraq's armed forces gone, the gap yawns even wider. Israel never had an edge in quantity, but it has increased its lead in quality. The traditional three enemies; Egypt, Syria and Jordan, are no longer all that anti-Israel. Jordan has been quite cozy for the last two decades. Egypt has a peace treaty with Israel, and would lose billions of dollars a years in American aid if Israel were attacked. Syria is still seen as a potential foe, but its armed forces are about half the  size and the same quality of Iraq's before the recent invasion. Against this, Israel has a mobilized army of over 600,000 troops (186,000 on active duty, 445,000 reserves). These are equipped with 11,000 armored vehicles (including 3,900 modern tanks). The U.S. and Britain defeated Iraq with fewer than 200,000 troops and about 2,000 armored vehicles. The Gulf Arabs can muster about 400,000 troops, Iran some 600,000, but these nations have never sent more than small (and ineffective) contingents to actually fight Israel. The North African Arabs have fewer troops, and a similar experience when they tried to get involved. In the air, the Israelis are outnumbered even more. While Israel has 530 warplanes, it's immediate neighbors have three times as many, and the Gulf States have another 700. But Israel has an enormous qualitative edge, especially in the quality of its pilots and electronics. While Saudi Arabia has bought some high tech American F-15s, the Saudis have been unable to produce quality pilots or support personnel. Israelis have been noticing the growing disparity in military power and have begun to cut their defense spending. Their Arab neighbors are being forced to do the same, if only because most of them are broke. Israel has one of the few vibrant economies in the region and is better able to win any economic battles as well.




Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   Contribute   Close