As Syria’s civil war continues to escalate, and uncertainty grows over its
outcome, the IDF’s 7th Armored Brigade – the oldest tank brigade in the army –
held a major war drill on the Golan Heights last month to ensure its readiness
for any unexpected developments from the North.
drills were also held recently in firing ranges in the Galilee, the Jordan
Valley and the Tze’elim base in the South, to prepare the brigade for
developments on all fronts, its commander, Col. Oded Basyuk, told The
Jerusalem Post on Monday.
“There is a broad range of threats. The future,
from our perspective, is unpredictable,” he said. “We saw this in Gaza during
Operation Pillar of Defense, when we were fully prepared. We see it in Lebanon,
where a threat has accompanied us for many years. And of course, in Syria,”
“It’s hard to know what the future will bring [in
Syria]. Some people have tried to predict it and were unsuccessful,” he
Based in the Golan Heights, the 7th Armored Brigade is made up of
Israeli-made Merkava Mark 2 tanks, some of which were manufactured in the 1980s
but have since undergone a series of technological upgrades.
good capabilities and the best people,” Basyuk said.
The brigade is also
made up of Engineering reconnaissance elements, and infantry units.
Basyuk could not get into the specific techniques being drilled, he did say, “We
know and understand what tactics the enemy can use against us, and what weapons
are in their possession. In light of this, we’re developing combat skills for
different kinds of enemies. Similar characteristics are shared by them
During training, the brigade’s units have been sent from one
training area to another, “so that we’re prepared for all options. You can’t
only be prepared for one scenario,” Basyuk said.
“My assumption is that
anytime and anywhere Israel encounters a conflict, the 7th Brigade will be
there,” he added.
The brigade’s tank drivers are training in quickly
moving from front to front, and to make the mental transition to their new
A Gazan conflict will be different from a Syrian
escalation, Basyuk explained.
“In 2006, we fought in the Second Lebanon
War, and I tell my soldiers we could return there,” he added.
past year-and-a-half, the brigade has initiated new training procedures, for
which it was awarded a prestigious prize by the Ground Forces Headquarters. The
reforms in training are based on the principle of teaching skills and techniques
to the lowest command level.
“This is the level that will meet the enemy,
and that will determine the outcome on the battlefield,” Basyuk
“The idea is that not only the brigade commander will be skilled,
but that the fighters and the platoon and company commanders will be skilled.
This is where we’ve been investing most of our time,” he added.
Armored Brigade is equipped with the Digital Ground Army system, which generates
a computer map, updated in real time, of all the IDF’s forces in a battle arena
and the location of the enemy.
It tracks every tank shell fired at
targets and the movement of hostile forces.
Basyuk said DGA has played a
significant part in recent training.