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Jane’s: Israel’s Military Is Unrivaled In Mideast

July 26, 1996

LONDON (AP) _ Israel’s military is unrivaled in the Middle East despite budget cuts, although a new assessment of defense capabilities published Friday indicates Syria’s air force is capable of inflicting severe damage.

The new assessment published by Jane’s Information Group said the Israeli army remains ``the most formidable fighting force in the Middle East.″

Mideast expert Sean Boyne, who wrote the assessment, said the Israeli Air Force is ``not only the most effective air force in the Middle East but one of the most effective in the world.″

Though dominant, Israel’s large-scale army training exercises have been cut back to save money. Financial constraints may have had an adverse effect on logistics, maintenance and manpower levels.

The Syrian air force, however, ``is still capable of making a lethal strike against Israel″ despite a scarcity of spare parts, a lack of some advanced technologies, and an unwieldy battle command structure, Jane’s Sentinel-Eastern Mediterranean said.

``Syria has a sizable inventory of combat aircraft and a mass attack could allow it to tie up and saturate Israel’s air defenses, allowing its formidable fleet of Su-24 fighter bombers to make a damaging attack on a target such as Tel Aviv,″ the publication said.

``Such an attack could only be carried out at great cost to Syria but it would also be particularly devastating for Israel if unconventional weapons were employed.″

Syria has been building up its army and improving its military hardware since the 1973 Mideast War, but faces problems including a lack of funds, poor training and an inefficient Soviet-style logistics system.

Jordan’s army is highly professional, well disciplined and has some good equipment. Other equipment needs to be modernized or replaced, however, and a shortage of spare parts has taken a toll on armor and artillery, the assessment said.

In Lebanon, Lt. Gen. Emile Lahoud has made ``considerable progress in creating a unified disciplined army″ it said. But the army faces tight funding and there are questions about long-term cohesion of the force.