The IDF has revamped a training program for army logistics cadets by placing them in simulated combat conditions, in a bid to avoid a repeat of critical logistics failures experienced by the army in the Second Lebanon War of 2006.
In recent days, some 180 cadets completed a third training cycle, in which they trained with the Armored Corps, Infantry, and Air Force to test their ability to remain functional and serve combat forces while under fire.
Col. Eli Gilad, commander of the Logistics Training Center, located at the Ground Forces Training Center at Tze’elim in southern Israel, said the program prepares cadets who carry out key wartime functions, such as refueling armored vehicles and ensuring a fresh a supply of ammunition, to ensure that ground forces could continue to operate.
It also included future officers from the Medical Corps, tasked with overseeing the evacuation of wounded from a battlefield; the Military Police, which would direct military traffic during a call-up; the Personnel Directorate; and other supporting roles.
Such officers would be based at a battalion headquarters during the fighting for most of the time, and might also have to travel through enemy territory, where they could come under attack.
“One of the lessons of the Second Lebanon War is that there was insufficient training for logistics units,” Gilad said.
“Our conclusion was to set up a training cycle, just like the one that exists in the Armored Corps. A regular, set period of training, to reach professional standards,” he added.
The two-week exercise saw logistics units train alone in the first week, specializing in their field of activity, before joining fighting units in the second week, to examine their ability to integrate into their battalions.
Logistics units will have to make a rapid transition from peacetime to war, Gilad said.
Like other units, they will find themselves in Israeli territory at first, then in open areas on the other side of a border, and finally, in urban warfare surroundings, where they must serve the combat forces.
Referring to previous training practices, Gilad said, “The first time I saw a tank being serviced by a fuel truck was after four years of service.” He said it is vital to create officers with combat training from the outset, and not wait for them to learn “on the job.”
The logistics units will be secured by combat forces during most periods of fighting, but may find themselves alone for a time, and have received basic firearms training to be able to return fire if needed.
“They learned how to work in an operational environment filled with tanks, armored personnel carriers, and the Engineering Corps,” Gilad said.
“We had soldiers simulating the enemy, as well as casualties and airlifts. This was followed by a post-drill review, assisted by a computer analysis showing the location of every vehicle involved in the drill.”
The cadets also trained in using the Mesua (Torch) command and control system, to broadcast requests for resupplies or replacement vehicles.
“These officers are far more prepared for war than their predecessors after this,” Gilad said. “They need to be ready for any front, be it Syria, Gaza, or Lebanon.”
Brig.-Gen. Ron Iluz, chief logistics officer in the IDF, said the multiple-corps exercise was part of a wider shift towards creating a single logistics military school in the Negev this December.
“Our purpose to allow uninterrupted combat over extended periods,” Iluz said. “These are not people who became combat soldiers, but they still need to be able to function under fire.”