While a year has passed since the Second Lebanon War, the IDF is still in the process of transforming its combat units and hopes to complete replenishing emergency supplies for reservists by the end of the summer, senior officers said Wednesday.
Following the war, the IDF received NIS 2 billion in aid from the government to procure brand new equipment for combat reservists. Behind the project is Col. Ilan Peretz, head of the Planning and Organization Department in the IDF's Ground Forces Command.
"We will finish resupplying all of the infantry units by September and will then continue on to the rest of the IDF," Peretz told ,The Jerusalem Post Wednesday in an interview coinciding with the war's first anniversary. "Reservists are getting equipment that is equal and sometimes even better than compulsory combat soldiers."
The new equipment includes new bulletproof vests, lightweight helmets and new Load Bearing Equipment (LBE) harnesses for carrying ammunition and other supplies. The IDF is also in the process of shortening M-16 rifles and according to Peretz will become one of the first Western militaries to only operate with the short version of the American weapon.
"Today's IDF is a different IDF," Deputy Chief of General Staff Maj.-Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky said Wednesday. "We made mistakes before the war but since then we have made great achievements."
Peretz said that he was aware the new equipment on its own was not enough to change the outcome of the next war. But he said it could change the way soldiers feel when they were sent to the front lines to fight for their country. By the end of the year, the IDF hopes to have trained 70 percent of its reserve units.
"I don't think that this equipment was what was missing in the last war," he said. "But this will certainly improve the quality and the feeling among the soldiers."
In addition to the changes in equipment, due to difficulty in getting supplies like food and ammunition to units operating inside Lebanon last summer the IDF has decided to assign a non-commissioned career serviceman to each reserve battalion to be responsible for the unit's logistical needs.
The IDF has also ordered hundreds of Trophy active protection anti-missile systems, which it plans to begin installing this summer on its Merkava tanks.
The decision to purchase the systems was made following the war in Lebanon, during which Hizbullah anti-tank missile squads damaged 40 Merkava tanks and killed more than 30 tank crew members.
Developed by the Rafael Armament Development Authority, the Trophy system creates a hemispheric protected zone around armored vehicles such as the Merkava tank, which operated prominently in Lebanon during the month-long war this past summer. The system is designed to detect and track a threat and counter it with a launched projectile that intercepts the anti-tank missile.