IDF applying lessons of war to improve use of tanks

IDF Armored Corps now intends to defeat the enemy using speed and firepower.

merkava tanks 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
merkava tanks 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
After suffering heavy losses to Hizbullah anti-tank missiles during the second Lebanon war, the IDF Armored Corps has changed its mode of operations and now intends to defeat the enemy using its two major advantages - speed and firepower. This week, Armored Brigade 401 took to the hills of the Golan Heights for its fifth week of training after completing a brigade-level exercise last week at the IDF Ground Forces Training Center in the Negev. The brigade uses the most advanced tank in the IDF, the Merkava 4, and spent the entire war inside Lebanon. It participated in what has become known as the Battle of the Saluki - the last battle of the war, in which eight tank crew members were killed. For the first time in close to a decade, the brigade - which is traditionally the first armored unit to be called up to fight on Israel's three fronts - is training for 12 weeks, spending time drilling urban warfare but mostly sharpening the skills needed for armored combat. "Our advantage is our ability to move fast and our firepower," Brigade Commander Col. Itzik Turgeman told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday. "The tanks are now driving faster and are using smokescreens - something they didn't use during the war - since we now understand that the threat of anti-tank missiles is 360 degrees." According to Turgeman, a tank cannot sit "statically" inside enemy territory. The brigade sustained a number of casualties in the last days of the war as they waited for the government to decide whether to launch the last-ditch operation in southern Lebanon. "If you sit and don't move, you are an easy target for the enemy," he said. "You need to know how to use the tank and the topography to your advantage."