Last week the Givati Special Forces conducted a joint exercise with the United States Marine Corps in order to examine various techniques of urban warfare, to teach the IDF (Zahal) approach to urban warfare and to learn about the Marines’ operational experience in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The exercise took place over three days and was held in a special facility, the National Center for Urban Warfare Training. The purpose of the exercise was for each unit to learn from the operational experience of the other in fighting in urban terrain. “You understand that one maneuver is appropriate for Afghanistan and why it’s different from what we are trained to do in Gaza,” said Givati Special Forces commander Major Nadav Danino. “In the Marines, each company specializes in a certain area – one in counterterrorism, one in Afghanistan, one in a more rural area, and one in a more urbanized area. We in the Special Forces train in all of these areas,” he said.
“During part of the drill we were on the defensive side, and they were on the offensive side. Then we swapped. When training as the other side you learn your weaknesses and learn how to adjust and improve your plan,” Maj. Danino said.
At the end of each day, Maj. Danino compared the maneuvers, and different approaches to handle complicated situations like releasing hostages or taking over a strategic building in the field, with his counterparts in the Marines. “As the commander of these forces, it was very interesting to understand what they do and why exactly they do it that way,” he said.
“The meeting between the soldiers raised questions from both sides – about the equipment, the shoes the soldiers wear, and even questions like what rifle sight you use. The dynamic is different – both on the disciplinary level and on the level of the social life between soldiers,” said Maj. Danino.
“We expected that the Marines would set the bar for IDF (Zahal) combat soldiers, but last week the Givati Special Forces soldiers showed the Marines that they have some things to learn from us too.”
The Marines’ vision is one that puts the training of the individual soldier at the center. A Marine soldier is expected to be able to execute a series of actions perfectly. The IDF (Zahal), in contrast, emphasizes team performance, in which every soldier uses his strengths to make up for the weaknesses of his friends, and vice versa.
Israeli and American intelligence reports from last year showed that terrorist organizations worldwide are sharing knowledge with each other via social platforms. This timely joint exercise will help the IDF (Zahal) and the Marines deal with these potential challenges.