IDF soldiers in desert exercise 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The shooting came from every direction as the soldiers converged on the small
ravine below. Mortar shells, sniper fire and heavy machine guns all burst out at
once as the soldiers from the Golani Brigade’s 13th Battalion stormed a mock
enemy position in the Carmel Mountains in the North.
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The exercise, held
Thursday, was part of the infantry brigade’s annual training regimen aimed at
preparing for a future war with Hezbollah in Lebanon. While the media spotlight
is currently on the question of whether Israel will or won’t attack Iran’s
nuclear facilities, the IDF commanders and soldiers in Golani are focused on
winning the war that could potentially ensue.
“Our goal is to be as
prepared as possible for any future war, no matter where it breaks out,” a
senior officer in the brigade said on the sidelines of the drill, following
which the battalion will be deployed in the West Bank for routine counter-terror
During the drill, the battalion commander dispersed his
companies on a number of hilltops surrounding the target – a Hezbollah position
in terrain similar to southern Lebanon, full of rocks and thick
While one company provided cover from a distance, the others began
moving in, while laying down heavy gunfire to suppress the enemy’s ability to
In the past, the senior officer said, these types of exercises
used to be held at night, since the IDF did not believe it was safe to maneuver
through enemy territory during daytime – a mistake for which it paid during the
Second Lebanon War in 2006.
Golani Brigade commander Col. Ofek Buchris
instituted a new training regimen when he took over two years ago, and since
then, there has been an emphasis on maneuvering during the day as
“A military needs to know how to maneuver and move its ground
forces at all times of the day and night,” the senior officer explained.
“Training provides us with the feeling that we are ready and
When speaking to his subordinates, Buchris stresses the
concern shared by all militaries in the world – trying to train for the next war
and not the last war.
“This is not always easy, and you likely will not
know if you succeeded until after the next war,” the senior officer
“That is why in Golani, we put an emphasis on strengthening the
soldiers’ basic skills – becoming familiar with the terrain, knowing how to use
their weapons and how to maneuver in the field.”
Golani is the first
infantry brigade to begin receiving the IDF’s new Namer armored personnel
carrier, which is based on the chassis of the Merkava Mk4 main battle tank. Two
battalions in the brigade have already been equipped with the
“It is extremely versatile and knows how to move fast and
efficiently through all different types of terrain,” the officer said. “It is
meant to get soldiers to a certain point, from which they may need to dismount
and walk the rest of the way by foot.”