Newest Home Front Command battalion drills worst-case scenarios

Lt.-Col. Dror Shaul tells 'Post' battalion drilling intensely for chemical missile attack, conventional projectile strikes.

IDF drill 370 (photo credit: (IDF Spokesman))
IDF drill 370
(photo credit: (IDF Spokesman))
The latest Home Front Command battalion to be formed is drilling intensely for worst-case scenarios, including chemical missile attacks and conventional projectile strikes, its commander told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
Lt.-Col. Dror Shaul, who commands the Tavor Battalion – the fourth Home Front Command battalion of its kind – said a chemical missile strike exercise had been completed in Ashkelon in recent weeks.
The battalion is preparing for a drill in the coming weeks that will see its members deal with a conventional missile strike before being called suddenly to a chemical incident, in an effort to simulate a war with extreme and unforeseen developments.
While the risk of rockets and missiles carrying conventional warheads being fired by terrorists remains a constant, the chances of an unconventional attack are far lower, according to security evaluations.
On ordinary days, when the battalion is not drilling for extreme scenarios, it takes part in security missions in the West Bank.
“We’re fully set up and operational,” Shaul said. “Our mission is to save lives in emergencies.
We practice rescuing trapped victims from scenes of destruction caused by war or terrorism.
Our scenarios involve homes struck by projectiles, like the Rishon Lezion apartment building hit during Operation Pillar of Defense [in November 2012],” Shaul added, referring to an incident involving a medium-range rocket causing considerable damage to a residential structure.
“In this kind of situation, you need professionals – not only firefighters – to search and rescue the area. These are the types of incidents we are preparing for,” he added.
“We approach this kind of incident using our abilities and tools – cutting and splitting up [building materials]. These are the same tools used in construction, but here, they’re used for rescue.”
The Tavor battalion, equipped with chemical protection suits, must be prepared for chemical incidents as well. Its training involves learning quickly to identify a chemical attack, the zone that is affected, and charting a response. Tracking down antidotes to poisonous chemicals and evacuating the local population can prevent additional harm, Shaul said.
The ultimate challenge, he added, is knowing to react immediately despite the surprise.
“How do you make the transformation, from dealing with a conventional attack to an unconventional one? Of quickly picking up the equipment needed? Of swiftly mobilizing the battalion’s members from home? This is a real challenge.
“We also need to know how to make the jump from carrying out continuous security in the West Bank to an emergency situation in the home front,” he said.