New urban warfare facility to be built for northern arena

The new facility will enable joint combat training in complex terrain between all units from the Ground Forces and the Air Force

Date: 18/02/2013, 7:24 PM     Author: Yael Zahavi

The IDF (Zahal) Northern Command will unveil a new facility for combat in urban terrain, designed specifically for the northern arena, in roughly two years. The designated facility will enable training exercises for joint combat between all units of the Ground Forces and the Air Force.

The decision to establish the facility – currently in the planning phase – came as a result of lessons learned from the Second Lebanon War. “Today, the IDF (Zahal) has a number of facilities that allow for combat training in the northern arena, and there is good readiness, but we must remember that even when well prepared, we want to reach even higher – and that is what we aim for,” said the Head of the Urban Combat Section, Maj. Assi Lavon.

Currently, the main training facility for urban combat is the Urban Warfare Training Center, which is designed to resemble a real city. The new facility in the north will be larger than this center and will include over 500 structures. It will simulate a variety of complex combat settings, among them subterranean warfare and combat in shrubland.

In contrast to most of the IDF (Zahal)’s training facilities simulating urban combat, which are located in southern Israel and feature barren terrain, the new facility will be located in the north and will be full of vegetation.

Another difference between the north and the south is that the northern terrain is mountainous with many valleys and ravines. “It is more complicated to fight in this kind of terrain,” Maj. Lavon noted.

“The vegetation and the shrubland terrain make the combat more difficult from the command and control perspective, and also from the perspective of opening fire and utilizing weapons.”

Maj. Lavon noted that the main challenge in urban warfare is that the enemy is unexpected and can be located in all kinds of places – inside buildings, in the outskirts of the area and even underground.

Additional challenges include enemy traps and mines, booby-trapped and fortified houses, tunnels and avoiding friendly fire.

“We train for instances like these,” he stated. “We have the ability to deal with all complex terrains in the urban setting.”