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In preparation for possible renewed conflict in the North, the IDF has introduced a new and innovative training regimen for its Armored Corps, with an emphasis on identifying and discovering anti-tank positions in an urban or open battlefield.
During the Second Lebanon War last summer, Hizbullah fired thousands of anti-tank missiles at IDF tanks and positions, killing dozens of troops.
Nevertheless, the IDF was satisfied with the performance of its Merkava tanks during the 34-day conflict, and postwar probes discovered that only 40 tanks out of the 400 that operated in Lebanon had been hit by anti-tank missiles.
"The Merkava tank stood up to all the standards we had set for it," a high-ranking IDF officer told The Jerusalem Post this week. "There is no other tank like it in the world."
But while the IDF is confident in the tank's capabilities, senior officers stressed this week that training and knowledge of how to operate the tank and its systems were imperative for surviving in a hostile environment.
Hizbullah is believed to have thousands of Soviet-built Sagger, Cornet and Fagot anti-tank rockets, as well as the French Milan and the US-built TOW, all supplied by Iran and Syria. These missiles are usually fired by a two- or three-man team.
Since the war, several armored brigades have participated in large-scale exercises aimed at improving tank crews' capabilities and in creating a better level of cooperation between armored, infantry and artillery units.
The IDF has also recently signed a contract to purchase over 100 "Trophy" active protection systems developed by Rafael, capable of intercepting incoming anti-tank missiles.
In order to better counter the threat, OC Armored Corps Brig.-Gen. Halutzy Rudoy has set a new training regimen that integrates IDF anti-tank units - from infantry brigades - into a tank crew's instruction.
Tank crews spend time with the Israeli anti-tank squads, learning how they operate and where they set up positions, to get a better idea of how the enemy anti-tank squads operate. In addition, the IDF uses advanced simulations during training exercises which drill the tank crews against the anti-tank squads.
"A tank crew needs to learn to analyze the terrain to be able to identify where the threat is," explained the officer. "You don't always look just for the tank that is opposite you, but also where an anti-tank crew might be."