IDF’s Oketz canine unit drilling for war

Both regular and reservists taking part in week-long drill.

Oketz Unit (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S OFFICE)
Oketz Unit
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S OFFICE)
The IDF’s elite Oketz unit held a week-long intensive drill, practicing emergency scenarios and various combat scenarios, the IDF’s Spokesperson’s Unit said Saturday evening.
According to the military the exercise began at the end of last week, in the troop-both regular and reserves- were mobilized and transitioned from routine to emergency, and began a series of preparations for combat scenarios.
The troops, who are trained in three specialized who were embedded with forces from the Oz commando unit and Kfir Brigade were deployed at various sites.
The IDF’s Oketz (Hebrew for “sting”) was established in 1974 and is considered part of the army’s elite special forces, with the dogs and their handlers attached to all of the army’s combat units filling several important tasks such as detecting explosives and weapons, chasing and attacking wanted suspects, as well as taking part search and rescue missions.
During the course of the week, troops from Oketz practiced the unit’s various operational tasks while adapting to the combat zones and their unique characteristics.
The troops also drilled on offensive raids, combat in urban areas both above and underground, as well as thwarting enemy infiltrations, locating bombs and seizing weapons.
“The fighters completed a particularly intensive week which included fighting in various complex scenarios and situations, joining several units simultaneously, and adapting fighting to different fronts and combat scenarios,” said the Commander of the Oketz Unit, Lt.-Col.G, adding that  “the unit is strong and ready to lead the forces forward in locating terrorists, explosive devices and weapons."
The IDF returned to 17 weeks of consecutive training last year, an increase from the 13 weeks soldiers trained for the past 15 years. As part of the training program the IDF has invested hundreds of millions of shekels into upgrading training facilities in the Golan Heights, Jordan Valley and Southern Israel and adapting them to the challenges facing troops on various fronts.
The IDF’s commando units are currently in a 10 day-long drill in order to improve it’s preparedness for a two-front war, with troops from the Maglan, Egoz and Duvdevan units training on a variety of scenarios, including fighting on two different fronts-in the Gaza Strip against Hamas and in the north of the country against Hezbollah.
The cross-country exercise includes broad cooperation with the Israel Air Force, including the launching of strikes in close proximity to troops. During the exercise troops also practiced the transition between fronts and combat zones, as well as fighting in both open and urban areas.
The IDF’s Kfir Brigade on Thursday completed a period of brigade-level drills simulating maneuvering and fighting against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
The drill was the IDF’s 11th brigade-level exercise to take place in 2018 as part of the military’s work on improving it’s readiness.
The troops trained on a variety of scenarios in the southern front, including a ground maneuver in Gaza and dealing with troops who simulated Hamas fighters. A week before the brigade drill, platoon-level exercises were held to test the troops’ ability to fight in densely populated and urban areas and the challenges of fighting in a civilian environment.