How Israel Guards Its Shores

[Proceedings-U.S. Naval Institute] Commander John Patch, U.S. Navy (ret.) - Navigating southeast from the tranquil waters of Cyprus, one finds a sudden change in the security environment. Radio queries from Israeli coastal authorities begin roughly 200 nautical miles out from the Levant, increasing in frequency and assertiveness as one draws closer to their territorial waters. Any vessel able to sample the electronic spectrum would notice focused radar scrutiny while still well out to sea. Unseen passive surveillance nets also provide Tel Aviv clues to vessel identity and destination. At approximately 50 miles out, unmanned aerial systems monitor inbound traffic and provide geo-location to maritime patrol aircraft that overfly those ships reluctant to answer queries. Then the Israelis get serious. The Israeli Navy immediately challenges unidentified or uncooperative vessels with well-armed surface patrol craft. Any hint of a threat means armed aircraft accompany the patrol craft. Ships foolish enough to then ignore or evade the Israeli Navy can expect to be fired on and seized if they cross into the 12-nautical-mile limit. Simply put, the Israelis take maritime homeland defense very seriously, they are exceptionally proficient at it, and America can learn much from them. Yet, how can the tiny nation be so much better at this than the American superpower? First, Tel Aviv continues to perceive that its national survival is at stake - homeland defense is an ingrained, daily effort of every Israeli citizen. The writer directed the National Maritime Intelligence Watch at the Office of Naval Intelligence and is an associate professor of strategic intelligence at the U.S. Army War College.

2008-11-07 01:00:00

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