IDF uses ‘Black Swan’ to train cadets for Hezbollah battles

After five years of training, some commanders feel scenarios that are regularly practiced have become too simple and insufficiently challenging.

December 7, 2011 05:28
1 minute read.
IDF soldiers training in southern Israel [file]

IDF soldiers training in southern Israel 311. (photo credit: Tammy Habteyes)


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Concerned that training exercises have become too sterile, the IDF’s Bahd 1 Officer Training School has instituted a new regimen aimed at preparing future officers for the uncertainty and chaos that comes with war.

The new training regimen is the brainchild of Col. Eran Niv – commander of Bahd 1 for the past year – and is called “Black Swan,” referencing the theory developed by Nassim Nicholas Taleb regarding events that take people by surprise.

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The week-long regimen begins by sending cadets to unfamiliar training grounds in the North on their own with their full gear. The cadets then undergo a series of drills to simulate how they would act during gun battles with Hezbollah guerrillas, kidnapping scenarios and navigation mishaps.

“We want to see what the cadets do to minimize the surprise and to remain in control,” a senior officer at the training school said this week. “The emphasis is on survivability but also on how they adapt to surprises, chaos and changes.”

Following the Second Lebanon War, the IDF began training units with the aim of restoring basic capabilities to the military’s ground forces.

However, after five years of training, some commanders feel the scenarios that are regularly practiced have become too simple and insufficiently challenging.


OC Nahal Brigade Col. Amir Abulafia recently wrote a new training doctrine for the IDF Ground Forces Command under which battalion and brigade exercises are supposed to be more complicated and include higher numbers of casualties than before.

“We need to make the exercise as close as possible to the way things will play out on the battlefield,” the officer from Bahd 1 said. “There will be many surprises and the best way to prepare for them is by training.”

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