Outgoing commandant of Artillery Academy describes warfare transformations

IDF Col. Amit Guy talks the changes he has made to the IDF’s Artillery/Firepower Military Academy in an interview with the Jerusalem Post. 

IDF along the northern border between Israel and Lebanon. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
IDF along the northern border between Israel and Lebanon.

IDF Col. Amit Guy has a lowkey side, but it is hard for him to describe his two years running the IDF’s Artillery/Firepower Military Academy as anything other than “transformative.”

In an outgoing interview with the Jerusalem Post before he takes on different challenges within the IDF, Guy described four main factors in that transformation.

Firepower Command  and Academy

First, he noted how he and the IDF "changed the name of the Command and the Academy” from Artillery Command and Academy to Firepower Command and Academy.

“This was not just semantics, from artillery to unleashing firepower,” Guy told the Post since “all of the training and courses are different for different kinds of firepower and are also distinct at different levels – ranging from the platoon level to the brigade level.”

He added that “there is also training for various devices and vehicles specific to the company commanders and platoon commanders.”

A huge shift is that “all of the training for tactical operational drones is carried out at our Shivtah base,” said the IDF Colonel. 

IDF soldiers are seen taking part in an exercise simulating a rescue mission behind enemy lines. (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
IDF soldiers are seen taking part in an exercise simulating a rescue mission behind enemy lines. (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

In an era when the IDF must fight more and more of its battles in urban and densely laid out areas, it was inevitable eventually that what was once a strictly land-based artillery command would evolve into using tactical drones for greater pinpoint accuracy and intelligence collection.

Centralized under one command

Second, he said that it has been a significant change to bring “everything centralized under one command,” regarding artillery and firepower.” 

Before this modification, artillery officers in distinct units in the northern, southern and other commands reported to different chains of command.

In contrast, Guy stated that centralizing the command process for the Artillery/Firepower Command means “there is better guidance and training and higher motivation for becoming officers within the command.” 

This connects directly to the third major alteration, “the improved capability for locating who should enter the officer training career path.” 

According to the “rising meteor track, which has been running for two years, there is an investment in locating high school students, who are designated for a special security role and path. This is a strong place for locating future artillery/firepower officers,” said Guy.

Candidates for this special accelerated firepower command officer track “do an earlier one-year training course. The graduates of this new accelerated firepower training course are already in the field in various areas. They are viewed as a very elite group. They get exposed to a variety of different means [delivery mechanisms] of firepower, as many as seven. This is as opposed to traditional training, where many soldiers learned only how to use one method of artillery,” Guy explained.

“The 12 months can be broken into two periods. After eight months, there is a review process to see if a soldier-trainee is ready. Then for four months, they focus on their ability to manage specific kinds of units. Some of them are sent straight to officer training school.”

Guy added that “two rounds of graduates of this new method of training are already in the field and are getting rave reviews for being very high quality.” Hundreds more will follow in their footsteps in the field in the not-so-distant-future, after completing the course.

Bigger picture of IDF capabilities

Next, he said that “usually in the IDF, you only see the bigger picture once you are promoted to lead a full platoon. Through this new training process, you have a much bigger picture of the IDF’s capabilities and needs at a much younger age.”

“All of this has led other elements of the IDF’s land forces to become more similar to the new firepower training track, including for the IDF’s tank command,” he noted.

These new recruits “are more ready for command, more resilient, more professional and are more familiar with broader aspects of serving in the artillery/firepower command,” according to Guy.

Further emphasizing the new trend, he said, “Before, many top recruits only went to the air force, and now many of them are coming to us.”

Operating the Roem artillery battery

A fourth change has been the Shivtah Academy switching its focus from teaching how to operate the Doher artillery battery to operating the Roem artillery battery.  

After 60 years of using an older foreign-developed model, he said the newer Israeli-made artillery-firepower unit “is one of the best in the world. It is much more autonomous, you do not need a person directing things as much and it can fire at a much more rapid rate.”

The Roem has a computerized and automatic loading process allowing it to fire around eight times per minute versus the twice-per-minute capability of the Doher. The Roem also travels using wheels as opposed to tracks, making it much more maneuverable, and other upgrades.

“This is the modern face that the IDF needs,” added the IDF colonel. 

Guy’s next step after all of these transformations is a whole different IDF path as he will become the military’s liaison to Chile, with responsibility also for Argentina and Ecuador. He said his next project is to work on his Spanish-speaking capabilities.

A challenge for Guy and his future successor

Of course, not everything was easy for Guy or will be easy for his successor in training the next generation of Artillery/Firepower commanders.

Regarding dealing with this new generation - which some say are social-media addicted and have much more limited attention span than in the past – he stated, “My era has seen dramatic change…Is this a weak generation? No, this is an incredible generation, smart, and very intuitive. Sometimes they challenge us, we need to adjust our methods of training to move faster and they are more social. They are used to social media and shorter learning cycles. We need to modify the IDF’s educational processes. We made the training suitable for 2023.” 

“You cannot lecture for an hour with a Powerpoint presentation. That is how I learned. Now we have podcasts, a YouTube channel and more individualized-paced learning,” he stated.

Besides that general generational issue, “there were many other hard challenges. We dealt with the coronavirus and also many social issues which have swept over Israel in recent months,” in a hint to the problems the debate over the judicial overhaul created for the IDF, especially in the early months of 2023.

Moreover, Guy described the emotional rollercoaster of handling injuries to trainees from accidents as well as the difficulty of defending bases from incursions and attempted thefts of weaponry in a period where the entire IDF has seen a spike in stolen weaponry. 

After all of that, Guy said, “Through many operations, I have seen high motivation and resilience. There are many trends happening in the IDF, but we have a good group of youth joining up who want to contribute and serve in a substantial way and are ready for a challenge.”