Nahal battalion in surprise Golan Heights war drill

"Our mission is to defend the border, and prevent a spillover,” commander of elite IDF battalion says.

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August 9, 2013 07:22
2 minute read.
Nahal Battalion Golan Heights war drill

Nahal Battalion Golan Heights war drill 370. (photo credit: IDF Spokesman’s Office)

 
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A key battalion of the IDF’s Nahal infantry brigade held a surprise war drill this week, mobilizing troops from around the country to a staging area in the North, and launching a live-fire exercise together with other army units.

Lt.-Col. Menny Liberty, Commander of the Nahal Reconnaissance Battalion, has been stationed on the Golan Heights for the past four months, but stressed that the drill was not related to the Syrian arena.

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Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Thursday, he described the drill as “very unique,” adding that in his many years of service in the IDF, he hasn’t seen a drill of this nature.

Liberty was originally told by his superiors that there would be a limited exercise for commanders based only on the use of maps, when suddenly, on Monday, a full-scale combat drill was announced.

“This really simulates reality. We never know when an emergency might catch us. Within a few hours, we had to go from a routine operational phase to being ready for war. We gathered all of the battalion from the northern region, and other places, like the Jordan Valley,” Liberty said.

Liberty’s battalion is made up of various companies, including ones that specialize in reconnaissance, explosives and missiles.

The forces were joined on the Golan Heights by tanks and artillery units, as well as a Sky Rider drone unit (made up of Artillery Corps soldiers who operate drones and join ground forces in an offensive).

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“Within a few hours, we were at the staging area, moving swiftly from routine to emergency mode. We received the ‘mission’ from the brigade, and did an equipment check. At 10 p.m., we were ready to move,” he said. “The scenarios we had to confront simulated an emergency in a northern arena,” Liberty added.

At first light, the forces launched a live-fire drill. Tanks opened fire and artillery gunners joined in as hundreds of infantry soldiers moved forward.

“It’s very challenging to hold a drill like this on terrain like the Golan Heights,” Liberty said. “If we practice for drills for weeks before they occur, they come out perfect. This is the element of surprise, heading out for war at a moment’s notice,” he said.

Despite defense budget cuts leading to a reduction in training, the exercise was held on time officially allocated for operational duty. It’s a good way to continue intense training despite the budget cuts, Liberty argued.

“I’m very proud of the unit, and it’s ability to move from one phase to another so quickly, while dealing with all of the scenarios simulating enemy combat,” he continued.

Senior IDF officials who attended the drill, including OC Northern Command Maj.- Gen. Yair Golan, provided good feedback, he stated.

Separately, Liberty addressed the Syrian civil war raging just over the border he is guarding.

“You see the fighting, but we are not a side in this. The rebels and the Syrian army are fighting each other – our central mission is to safeguard the quiet on the Golan Heights. To allow normal daily life and tourism to continue,” he said. “The fighting isn’t directed at us. Our mission is to defend the border, and prevent a spillover.”

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