Home Front inaugurates simulator for nonconventional attack

Israel preparing for a wide range of scenarios, including the possibility that Hizbullah will one day obtain chemical weapons.

The sirens blare through the building as another missile slams into Tel Aviv. Controllers start scanning the various screens installed on the wall to locate the site of the strike.
“It’s Kikar Rabin,” one officer yells out.
A moment later, sirens go off again and another rocket scores a direct hit – on the Bloomfield Stadium in Jaffa, as hundreds of people stand outside at ticket booths to purchase seats for the night’s upcoming soccer match.
After a few seconds a controller shouts that there is a chance one of the missiles was carrying a nonconventional warhead.
“It is probably chemical,” the officer says.
After a tense minute, a cloud is seen gathering in the air directly above the impact site and starting to turn east. The cloud is quickly identified as a chemical agent, unleashed from the missile’s warhead.
In the state’s 62 years of existence it has never been attacked by a chemical or biological missile, but the Home Front Command is not counting on that trend to continue.
To that end, it is preparing for a wide range of scenarios, including the possibility that Hizbullah will one day obtain chemical weapons, senior officers said on Thursday.
Syria is believed to have an advanced chemical and biological weapons program, including sarin gas, mustard gas and the VX chemical warfare agent. It is also believed to have hundreds of long-range Scud missiles that are capable of carrying a chemical warhead.
To prepare for this possibility, the Home Front Command awarded Elbit Systems Ltd. a multimillion- shekel contract two years ago to build a state-of- the-art simulator to train commanders in dealing with the fallout from nonconventional attacks.
The training simulator is stationed at the Home Front Command headquarters near Ramle and includes 50 different substations for medical teams, intelligence, purification and other disciplines. On Thursday, the Home Front Command inaugurated the simulator and held its first large-scale exercise – simulating the scenario detailed above, among others – to train commanders how to respond to nonconventional missile attacks on Tel Aviv.
According to Lt.-Col. Nir Golkin, head of research and development in the Home Front Command, the simulator enables commanders to train for threats that are almost impossible to drill in the field. “It is extremely difficult to simulate a chemical missile attack in Tel Aviv,” he said. “On the simulator we can insert all of the different parameters and make it seem as real as possible. That way, we can test commanders in their ability to deal with the fallout and dispersion of the chemical agent.”
The simulator also enables the Home Front Command to review the results of the simulation immediately. “Take a chemical warhead, for example,” Golkin said. “A commander sees the cloud and needs to check the wind speed and direction, and announce to the public which area to stay away from. In the simulator, we can see if he made the right or wrong decision.”