IDF continues to train for war with Hezbollah

As media focus on Iran, IDF commanders and soldiers in Golani are focused on winning the war that could potentially ensue.

November 11, 2011 03:39
2 minute read.
IDF soldiers in desert exercise [file]

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.

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.

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“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 operations.

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 brush.

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 respond.

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 well.

“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 prepared.”

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 said.

“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 vehicle.

“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.”

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