IDF adapts to winter storm

Soldiers of the Golani Brigade, today. Photo: IDF (Zahal) Spokesperson’s Unit

Following months of preparation, IDF (Zahal) units are implementing plans allowing them to continue protecting Israel, despite this week’s stormy weather

Date: 01/08/2013, 3:01 PM     Author: Matan Galin and Noam Witman

As powerful storms have struck Israel this week, the IDF (Zahal) has adjusted to the extreme conditions outside, taking steps to allow its units throughout Israel to continue functioning optimally.

The Northern Command began preparing for such weather several months ago. As part of the instructions given to its soldiers, it emphasized the use of winter-appropriate equipment, so as to prevent the weather from interrupting its activities.

Soldiers of the Golani Brigade’s 51st Battalion, who are stationed in the Upper Galilee for the winter, were outfitted with such winter equipment, in order to allow them to continue protecting the residents of northern Israel.

Engineering and logistics officers in the Hiram Formation along the Lebanese border have worked extra hours in recent days, so as to overcome the extreme weather that has hit the IDF (Zahal) bases in northern Israel. Snow as already accumulated in the Mount Dov area, and the special tools that were prepared in advance are being used to open roads, so as to allow soldiers and food supplies to reach the posts in the area.

“In the summer we began projects to strengthen our infrastructures. We strengthened the outposts so as to let the soldiers stay safe and comfortable, and it is fair to say that our infrastructure is well prepared,” explained Maj. Sharon Azoulay, a brigade engineering officer within the Hiram Formation.

In addition to strengthening infrastructure, logistical officers are doing everything in their power to maintain ongoing routine activity, including the provision of additional winter equipment. “Apart from the full winter gear which every soldier arrives with – including a rain-coat, snow suit, long underwear, gloves, and fleeces – we reinforced the forces with thermal clothing to maintain body heat, and all those stationed in the Brigade have heating, radiators or air-conditioners,” Logistical Officer Maj. Dotan Bakbani added on the subject.

In addition to heating, it was decided in the northern sector not to take risks and to make preparations for extreme circumstances. If the harsh weather prevents vehicular traffic and the transportation of supplies, army cooks in the north will be able to provide for soldiers for a full week from packaged food prepared in advance.

“On Mount Dov, due to problematic conditions, there are three vehicles that carry half-tracks on their backs, like Snowcats,” explained Maj. Bakbani. “If the snow blocks the approach to the mountain, both soldiers and supplies will be able to go up on them.”

Storm preparations also carried out in Southern Command

The wintery weather has also struck southern Israel. The Edom Division’s engineering teams have carried out preparations for flooding which is likely to cause heavy damages to infrastructure in the sector.

“During a flood, the principle engineering activity is work with mechanical equipment,” explained the Southern Command’s Engineering Operations Officer, Maj. Kobi Cohen. “On these days, we disperse teams among the brigades and divide the tools for handling floods between them.”

Maj. Cohen explained that preparations for the winter had already been carried out, including evacuations and transfer of debris in the areas of arterial roads in order to simplify the work for the engineering teams during floods. “In addition to preparing before the winter and activity during floods, after the event we deal with the issue of repairing infrastructural damages,” he said. “Usually after a flood there are roads that collapse and cause heavy damages to infrastructure, which leads to a limited ability to provide an operational response, which is something that we prevent.”