‘To win, we have to combine infantry and tanks’

Infantry officers ride in tanks as part of recent war training in South.

Infantry commanders ride in tanks as part of new war training (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
Infantry commanders ride in tanks as part of new war training
Infantry commanders from the Nahal Brigade rode in tanks and fired shells in recent days, as part of a new training program designed to boost cooperation between infantry and armored units.
The officers trained with tank crews from the 196 Battalion of the 460 Armored Brigade, at the Shizafon Advanced Armor training base in the South.
“As part of lessons we learned from Operation Protective Edge [in the Gaza Strip last summer], we learned the necessity of close cooperation between tanks and infantry,” Lt.-Col. Rafi Wolfson, commander of the 196 Battalion, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.
“For two days, Nahal commanders learned about our tanks, driving, firing and commanding over them.
They [participated in combat drills] in built-up areas and in open fields, to understand the advantages and constraints of the tanks,” he added.
The new drill is a part of an officers combat training course. Paratroopers were the first to conduct this form of training four months ago, due to the close cooperation they engaged in with the 460 Armored Brigade during combat in Gaza last year.
“We always stressed the combined infantry-armored battle in officers’ training. But... until now, we didn’t place the officers in tanks. Now, we understand this is necessary, not just for the company commanders or the platoon commander. All of the officers have to know what they can ask and expect of tank crews,” Wolfson said.
In last week’s drill, Col. Uri Gordin, Nahal Brigade commander, rode in a tank as well.
Lt.-Col. Yogev Barshashat, commander of Nahal’s 50 Battalion, said the drill was “born out of trauma and success. I am a veteran of the Second Lebanon War and Operation Protective Edge. In the Second Lebanon War [in 2006], every battalion fought alone. Infantry and tanks were separate. We learned that in to win, we have to combine forces.”
In the war with Hamas last summer, this realization found expression, Barshashat said.
“We have to link up to defeat the enemy. As a battalion commander, I have infantry units under my command, but also tanks, and the air force and [members of] the Engineering Corps. This worked very well in Gaza.”
Infantry and armored units complement each other, covering for the other’s weaknesses, Barshashat said.
“The infantry is fast but vulnerable, and has less firepower. The tank is powerful but cumbersome.
Together, they have all the advantages, and cover the disadvantages, giving us a better ability to deal with the enemy.”
The cooperation extends to a joint command and control network, he said.
“We will see the same images on the screen. We will both be able to identify the enemy and send each other targets, without the need to talk. This creates very rapid sensor to shooter cycles,” the officer added. “It takes us seconds to do this.”