Specialized training for combat in complex terrain

At a recent workshop attended by the Chief of Staff, IDF (Zahal) commanders received training in a new combat doctrine for complex terrain

Date: 19/04/2013, 2:36 PM     Author: IDF (Zahal) Website and Noam Sharabi, IDF (Zahal) Ground Forces

Dozens of senior IDF (Zahal) commanders gathered at the Northern Command’s main training base earlier this month. The officers – in regular and reserve service – came together for a day of special training on combat in complex terrain, with the goal of integrating the new combat doctrine for infantry in shrubland, fortified and underground terrain.

The workshop took place in two rounds and was designed for battalion and brigade commanders. Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz attended the training day, along with  GOC Northern Command Maj. Gen. Yair Golan and Chief of the Ground Forces Command Maj. Gen. Guy Zur.

The workshop began in the early hours of the morning with a competitive navigation race in a forest near the training base. The day’s learning continued with a lecture on underground combat from Col. Yoav Mordechai, Head of Doctrine for Infantry and Paratroopers.

After receiving a theoretical overview, the officers set out into the field. There, they observed a live display of the means available to infantry for use in urban combat, in order to further the command staff´s familiarity with the capabilities at their disposal. Later in the day, the officers reviewed presentations of weapons and tactical combat methods for the various terrains. The commanders even descended into a tunnel used by IDF (Zahal) forces for training.

Specialized training for combat in complex terrain

The urban warfare training facility at the Northern Command’s training base. Photo: Amit Shlomovitch, Ground Forces

IDF (Zahal) prepared for the threat of combat in any terrain

“The one who should be anxious about underground combat is the person inside, underneath the ground, and not the person above,” said, Brig. Gen. Itai Virov, summarizing the day’s learning. “We are able to overwhelm our enemies; we have the tools to do it, despite the uncertainty that characterizes the battlefield.”
Uncertainty in an emergency situation is one of the principal challenges that a commander in the field faces, a challenge which is intensified in fortified, underground surroundings. As Col. Mordechai explained, “In the next war, the battalions and commanders will not fight only in the open terrain that we are familiar with, but in all the possible terrains: shrubland, fortified and underground.” He added that preparing to fight in such terrain comes from one simple goal: “to neutralize the threat and to put it out of action.”

Specialized training for combat in complex terrain

IDF (Zahal) soldier trains for underground combat. Archive photo

Earlier this month, the Chief of Staff discussed the threat of combat against the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terror organization, as well as the IDF (Zahal)’s capabilities for minimizing this threat. He stated that Hezbollah “acts like a pseudo-state, posing strategic challenges which could ignite at any given moment. Lebanon cannot claim that it is a sovereign state without holding itself responsible for actions that take place within its territory.”

Lt. Gen. Gantz commented on the IDF (Zahal)’s military superiority over Hezbollah. “We are not facing an organized army,” he said, “so in order to win we will have to crawl underneath tunnels … and enter the villages from which the enemy operates.” He said that a confrontation with Hezbollah would “be difficult, but we are very much prepared for this scenario.” Noting one component of the IDF (Zahal)’s advantage, he stated, “Hezbollah does not have an air force like ours, and never will have one.”

In light of Hezbollah’s history of violence against the Jewish state and its efforts to expand its military capabilities, the Chief of Staff said, “Should the status quo change, we will act in a very decisive way against [them].”