Field Target Intelligence unit prepares for future war

‘The enemy is learning, and so are we,’ says senior IDF officer; unit will direct fire at targets in next battle.

Field Target Intelligence Battalion. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN'S OFFICE)
Field Target Intelligence Battalion.
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN'S OFFICE)
Reservists from the IDF’s Field Target Intelligence Battalion completed a large-scale exercise in the Jordan Valley in recent days.
The unit, subordinate to the 162nd Armored Division, specializes in gathering intelligence on enemy targets through a range of classified means. Its second role is directing other military forces, ranging from artillery guns to fighter jets, to fire and strike threats on the battlefield, near and far.
Lt.-Col. David Nahman, the battalion’s commander, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that his unit will form an essential part of any future ground maneuver involving the 162nd division.
“This is a battalion that provides the division with teams that can look out over long distances with advanced means and gather intelligence.
It can then direct many different kinds of fire.
Its members can move on foot, in light vehicles or armored vehicles. We’ll join the 162nd division anywhere it goes,” he said.
The reservists recently trained for a possible scenario in which they travel with other battalions over borders into combat zones such as Gaza, Lebanon, or Syria, to provide vital assistance.
“The training was very intensive. Our perception is that when reservists work hard during training and come home exhausted after a week, they’ll be satisfied. If they feel their time is wasted, they’ll ask themselves, why did I do this? We worked hard on the ground, practicing our combat presence. We held many drills examining all components of the Field Target Intelligence Unit,” Nahman said.
During the exercise, soldiers practiced engaging an enemy while walking and in vehicles.
They identified “enemy positions” and transmitted information to other forces.
Nahman said long-range optical means formed a part the unit’s capabilities, but he added that no further details could be given.
“Our advantage is our ability to collect intelligence. Our tools are most advanced, and work in the day or night. Our second and most significant advantage is the ability to direct fire. This is a very complex process. You have to know what you’re identifying, where it is, and who to direct,” he explained.
Lt.-Col. Nir Mesilati, head of the Field Combat Intelligence Branch at the Ground Forces Training Center (known by its Hebrew acronym, Mali) in Tze’elim, trains the reservists who make up this battalion.
“They’re the eyes of the division. Every division has a battalion like this, made up of a number of teams. Each team has a unique role, like looking out for threats, activating firepower, and directing forces such as artillery, the air force, and the armored corp. Almost anything that can be fired and that blows up can be directed by this battalion, very accurately and professionally,” said Mesilati.
“They operate stealthily. Often, they see and cannot be seen,” he continued.
Compared to a decade ago, the technological means at the unit’s disposal are very advanced, Mesilati added.
“I can’t provide details to the media, but we have an advantage over our rival. Yet it, too, is growing stronger. Therefore, we must be one step ahead, if not a few steps. My enemy isn’t stupid. It learns. We’re doing that, too. We’re always investigating and striving for excellence. To my perception, we’re ahead,” he said.