Maj.-Gen. Sami Turgeman, outgoing head of the IDF’s Ground Forces, sat at his
desk at General Staff Headquarters in Tel Aviv last week, and spoke of the
satisfaction he felt at what he had achieved over the past three-and-half
When Turgeman took over the Ground Forces in 2009, the army was
still reeling from its performance during the 2006 Second Lebanon War, a
conflict that served as a painful reminder that it had grown too accustomed to
counter-terrorism and security missions in the West Bank, and had neglected
preparations for ground operations against Hezbollah.
Turgeman oversaw a
process aimed at getting the Ground Forces back in shape for an effective and
speedy maneuver in southern Lebanon in case of renewed hostilities, based on the
premise that only a ground offensive would decisively defeat the Shi’ite
terrorist organization, which is armed with over 60,000 rockets. The same
preparations will serve the army in case it is ordered to retake the Gaza Strip,
if Hamas and Islamic Jihad renew rocket attacks on Israel.
Turgeman noted, the army has doubled its battle training time for ground forces,
for both regular and reserve brigades. The IDF is also equipped with a greater
number of Mark 4 tanks, and Namer (“Leopard”) heavy armored personnel carriers,
which will ferry infantry soldiers into enemy territory.
“From 2000 to
2006, the army dealt with combating terrorism in Judea and Samaria,” Turgeman
said. After the shortcomings of the 2006 conflict with Hezbollah, “we learned
lessons,” he added.
“Seven years have passed since. We’ve seen
ground forces in operation during Operation Cast Lead [in Gaza, January 2009],
and we’ve seen them mobilized in Operation Pillar of Defense [in November 2012].
I can say that we have units ready for their missions,” he said.
ensure maximal readiness, Turgeman has instructed all commanders to assume that
war will break out on their watch. He told them to ensure that all of their
activities are “preparations for war.”
“Hence,” he told The Jerusalem
Post, “they are getting ready, training, and carrying out very difficult
exercises. In the rain and in the cold, so that all of the units are
An example of this stepped-up training could be found on the
Golan Heights last week, where tanks from the 401st Armored Brigade held a war
drill just days after soldiers from the Nahal infantry brigade were suddenly
mobilized to the Golan to simulate the outbreak of a conflict.
the standard. There are many surprises [in the training].
They [the IDF
soldiers] shouldn’t think they will know what will be,” Turgeman
“We expect difficult combat. The enemy is doing all that it can to
build capabilities that will increase its advantages. It is investing in
defense,” he added.
The ultimate aim, Turgeman pointed out, is to deal a
difficult blow to the terror organization, one which will take it many years to
With Hezbollah and Hamas both in possession of large
numbers of rockets threatening the Israeli home front, any conflict must be won
quickly and decisively, and a ground offensive is the best way to achieve this,
“We have increased intelligence and surveillance
capabilities. We have more deadly fire power, including new shells and
Our mobility has increased, and we have more new tanks and Namer
[APC]s,” he stated. “We are ready.”
This week, Turgeman will become the
head of the IDF Southern Command.