IDF seeks to make infantry units more lethal

Decision to conduct review of the structure of infantry battalions was made in the wake of Operation Cast Lead.

IDF soldiers at Gaza border 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
IDF soldiers at Gaza border 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
The IDF has completed a review of the structure of its infantry battalions and is adding new capabilities aimed at making them more lethal in urban and guerrilla warfare.
The decision to conduct the review was made by IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.- Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi following Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip in early 2009 and after several new weapons systems were inserted into battalions to assist troops in counter-terror operations, particularly in urban settings like Gaza and villages in southern Lebanon.
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One example of a new weapon is the HTR 2000, a sniper rifle that is being distributed to all infantry battalions. It has a range of more than 1,000 meters and can be used with a special night-vision add-on scope.
The adjustable heavy tactical rifle, made by the US firm H-S Precision, dramatically improves the capabilities of the specially designated sniper units within each battalion.
The Ground Forces Command, which oversaw the review, also purchased, earlier this year, dozens of Polaris all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) that are in the process of being distributed to infantry battalions to transport supplies behind enemy lines.
Each battalion will receive a number of the two-seater ATVs, which can carry 700 kilograms of supplies in the back compartment as well as at least one wounded soldier. The vehicles have a maximum speed of close to 80 kph.
“With all of these new systems we needed to figure out what the best structure was of the battalion so all of the new capabilities would be effective,” a top officer in the Ground Forces Command explained.
The IDF also provided battalions with explosives capabilities, enabling them to independently blow down doors and walls and not be dependent on special Combat Engineer Units like Yahalom.
Each battalion also now sends a number of soldiers to undergo special camouflage training after which they become responsible for erecting camouflaged positions for the battalion when necessary during operations.
Another decision was to retain the same basic structure of a battalion with three regular companies but to add a specialized platoon made up of the Polaris and heavy machine guns. Each company also now has a special team of snipers and explosives experts.
Another system that was used for the first time during the anti-Hamas campaign in Gaza was the Matador anti-structure shoulder-launched missile.
Used by infantry to destroy Hamas positions inside homes and other structures, the Matador incorporates an advanced tandem warhead concept that can be operated in two modes: against fortified positions and other structures, and to create a hole in a wall without destroying the interior of a home.