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IDF tank brigade holds war drill in the North
By YAAKOV LAPPIN
01/01/2013
As Syria’s civil war continues to escalate, the IDF’s 7th Armored Brigade holds a major war drill on the Golan Heights.
 
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.

Intensive live-fire 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,” Basyuk added.

“It’s hard to know what the future will bring [in Syria]. Some people have tried to predict it and were unsuccessful,” he added.

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.

“We have good capabilities and the best people,” Basyuk said.

The brigade is also made up of Engineering reconnaissance elements, and infantry units.

While 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 all.”

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 battle arena.

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.

Over the 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 said.

“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.

The 7th 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.
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