IDF officers simulate war with Hezbollah

Hundreds of officers are using simulators, virtual reality, and escape rooms to prepare for war with the Lebanese terror group

IDF officers simulate war with Hezbollah (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
IDF officers simulate war with Hezbollah
As the IDF transitions to a more connected and digitized military as part of the “Momentum” multiyear plan, hundreds of officers have completed several brigade and battalion exercises using simulators rather than drills in the field.
Officers from the 401st Armored Brigade as well as from the Givati and Nahal infantry brigades were training when The Jerusalem Post visited IDF Training Command Headquarters at the Julis base near Ashkelon this week to watch as they virtually trained for a future war with Hezbollah.
“It’s like a videogame, but these are real places where troops and officers might go,” said Col. Eliav Elbaz, commander of the brigade’s training base.
Officers experience fighting in simulated urban terrain similar to that of Lebanon, complete with the street they might find themselves walking down and the mosque they might pass when in a village in southern Lebanon, he said.
The latest drill, which ended Thursday, took place over the course of one week, with five fights simulated over the course of four hours followed by a two-hour debriefing.
Keeping with coronavirus restrictions, officers were divided into capsules in different rooms. Platoon leaders and company commanders were in one room, and officers of the Forward Deployed Brigade Headquarters were in another.
The officers train on Elbit System’s B2MTC (Brigade and Battlegroup Mission Training Center), which according to the company provides a “realistic operational picture, enables them to operate a range of assets, compels them to respond to real-time changes and requires them to cope with tactical communications that are realistically impacted by various effects.”
The system also mimics the flow of information among all levels of command, which enables the officers to realistically simulate target acquisition and fire functions during complex combat scenarios.
While it might seem like a video game, “if the officer is killed, he’s out,” Elbaz said, adding that the entire drill is documented from beginning to end. That includes visual and audio data of the officers’ choices, and the system can document failures to help during the debriefing, he said.
The officers use simulators and also train in escape rooms that simulate mass-casualty events, such as an anti-tank missile striking an armored personnel carrier, in which they need to figure out how best to handle and clear the scene.
These drills “are not instead of drills in the field,” Elbaz said. “These drills work on the cognitive abilities of the officers when they are in the field. It’s just another platform. Wars are different these days. Before, there weren’t smart systems on guns or tanks. The enemy has also become more technological.”
With tensions high along Israel’s northern borders, “we have to keep training,” he said. “Hezbollah and Syria aren’t stopping because of the coronavirus. It could be that today officers are training in simulators, but tomorrow they might be in Lebanon at war with Hezbollah. We never know. And that’s why we keep training – to be ready.”