The changing battlefield requires changes to the battle doctrine and in the way units operate, a notion that is at the heart of the plan to reorganize and strengthen the IDF’s attack battalions.
As part of IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi’s multi-year plan known as the “Tnufa” plan, the army’s Ground Forces Command was tasked to thoroughly examine changes to the modern battlefield, and establish a mechanism in which new techniques and technologies could be quickly assimilated in the different units.
The multi-domain “Ghost” unit was created for this job. Composed of experienced soldiers and officers of elite units from the Armored Corps, Artillery Corps, Air Defense Division and Air Force pilots, this unit was busy in the past year conducting experiments and developing new techniques that will multiply the strength of the maneuvering units.
This week marked a significant milestone in the process. For the first time, all the battalion commanders of the IDF’s Ground Forces gathered for a seminar at the Tze’elim Ground Forces training base to study and “multiply” a skill that the multi-domain unit developed, and essentially assimilate it in field units.
The skill is the “expose and destroy” company. A major element in the new battlefield is the way the enemy appears in first contact. If battles in the past were conducted in the open and the enemy was using the same technologies – like tanks and armored personnel carriers – the IDF’s current enemy, in both Lebanon and Gaza, employs guerrilla tactics – dubbed in military jargon as “the disappearing enemy.”
This enemy appears for seconds in a window, or pops out of tunnels, and uses civilian infrastructure to briefly come out, attack, and then hide again.
For this purpose, the IDF senior command decided that each battalion needs a force – as big as an entire company – that will have the ability to expose the enemy as quickly as possible and destroy it.
“The purpose of the exposure-attack company is to increase the lethality of the maneuvering force – whether it is a unit or a combined force – by exposing the enemy with advanced technologies, and then immediately categorizing it and destroying it,” Brig.-Gen. Dan Goldfus, head of the Infantry and Paratroopers Corps who led the seminar, told The Jerusalem Post this week. “This ability will allow the units to step up their ability to carry out more operations, and destroy more enemy forces.”
ONE OF THE concerns in the modern battlefield is that an area, like a village for example, could be taken by the IDF, but enemy combatants could still exist in underground tunnels. That fact raised concern among IDF high-ranking officials: despite holding territory, a mission could not be completed without sterilizing it from enemy troops.
“We believe that this ability, on the tactical level, would allow forces to complete their mission,” Goldfus said. “We want the maneuvering forces to have the ability to win over the enemy by exposing it, then having the right tools to decide who it wants to eliminate it.”
Some of the abilities that are now given to commanders in the field are advanced command and control systems, which will allow them to understand and share valuable information in real-time, while also being in touch with units of different nature – such as fighter jets and artillery batteries – in order to “close fire circles” as quickly as possible and engage with enemy targets.
Goldfus noted that this seminar in Tze’elim is unique in its nature, and could be seen as a historic event.
“We want all the battalion commanders in the maneuvering forces to understand the changes that the battlefield is going through, and understand the changes that their units are undergoing,” he said. “We showed them how we [the senior command] want them to implement the techniques and abilities that we developed.
“This seminar is something that happens once in a generation. It’s not just another seminar; it’s not just another event that battalion commanders and other professionals come to and talk about professional issues. What we see here is a revolution – we see the implementation of a perception that led to changing the structure of units.
“The army is considered a conservative organization when it comes to making changes, and here we are changing the way the maneuvering forces are working. We will hear a lot about this change in the future.”