Soldiers from the Golani Brigade concluded an intensive week-long exercise simulating combat in mountainous terrain and the takeover of a large terrorist compound
Complete darkness descends on an enemy encampment. After a short time of scouting in the dark, it is just barely possible to make out the edges of buildings and the fences that surround them. Terrorists lie in wait for hours in the corners and under bushes, anticipating the moment at which the Israeli soldiers will storm the location.
The job will not be easy for the first fighters who arrive. The terrorists are more familiar with their surroundings, but the soldiers have the upper hand when it comes to forward intelligence, as well as sophisticated night-vision gear enabling them to maneuver freely in the dark of night. Now, all that remains for the dozens of fighters from the Golani Brigade encircling the area is to wait for the brigade commander’s order to storm the base.
This is the situation that was simulated by commanders and soldiers of the Golani Brigade last week, in a brigade-wide exercise conducted in the Golan Heights.
This was the first time that a takeover drill on such a scale has taken place. It was held under the command of Golani Brigade Commander Col. Yaniv Asur and included a series of arduous training drills in the mountainous terrain in which the Golani Brigade is trained to act.
After completing an alpine battle drill, the large-scale exercise reaches its peak stage, in which soldiers stage a takeover of a terrorist compound behind enemy lines. The challenging scope of the exercise includes storming a division-sized enemy compound while taking over multiple bases simultaneously.
The exercise resembles as closely as possible the reality awaiting the soldiers, should the incident materialize into a real-life scenario. Sporting enemy uniforms and Kalashnikov assault rifles, dozens of fighters from the brigade’s elite Egoz Unit pose as terrorists, camouflage themselves in the area of the base and make the takeover as difficult as possible for the Golani infantry. Dummy explosives are planted along the paths leading up to the base.
The brigade’s senior officers wander among the soldiers, watching them work and issuing orders. Both the upper command and the rank-and-file soldiers treat the exercise as if the enemy stood ahead, prepared to return fire at any moment.
After a relatively easy initial ground entry, with few “casualties” among the Golani troops, the fighters advance towards the compound’s buildings. The sounds of the enemies’ Kalashnikovs scream through the air, while the IDF (Zahal) soldiers return “fire” and silence the hostiles. A turning point comes when the brigade commander’s forward command squad receives word on the radio that the terrorists have staged a kidnapping attempt and are holding two hostages inside the base.
Immediately, the procedure to neutralize a hostage threat is underway. “Flank left and bring the heavy artillery in from the entrance to the compound so the enemy can’t escape,” the brigade commander orders, while poring over a map of the area and planning the next steps. Moments later on the radio: “The kidnapping attempt has been foiled.”
As the sun rises, the announcement is made: “The night act has concluded. The takeover exercise is over,” and the commanders and soldiers return to reality. After the time that it took the fighters to storm and take control of the enemy base, the Northern Division’s compound removes its facade of a terrorist nest and returns to routine duty.