From ISIS in Sinai and Hamas in Gaza to Hezbollah in Lebanon, urban warfare is a key challenge we face. Wars between columns of soldiers and tanks are a thing of the past. Dealing with terrorists entrenched within a hostile civilian population is no easy task. Recently, infantry soldiers from the Givati Brigade and soldiers from the Armored Corps prepared for these scenarios at an IDF (Zahal) urban warfare center.
You’re surrounded by snipers, terrorists hiding in houses, booby traps, and anti-tank missiles – how do you navigate? These are the difficult situations our soldiers are up against. As the nature of warfare has evolved, the IDF (Zahal) continues to modify and fine-tune its methods. Drawing lessons and adapting to the factors of this asymmetrical warfare is essential.
The goal of the exercise was to stop gunfire from enemy territory and eliminate the threat. Commanders of the Armored Corps and Givati Brigade constantly communicate before, during, and after the exercise in order to map out potential challenges.
During this operation, the tanks’ mission is to open up the streets while the infantry takes control of houses. The Givati Brigade and the Armored Corps worked on skills that complement the other. The Armored Corps provides cover from long-distance threats that infantry cannot detect. The infantry provide protection to tanks from short-range threats, like explosive devices that cannot be observed by those in a tank. The firepower of the Armored Corps and the mobility of infantry is the winning combination.
The Yom Kippur War in 1973 was the last symmetrical war between armies that Israel has fought. From then on, the IDF (Zahal) has dealt with the likes of terror organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah that have the firepower of traditional armies, but do not behave like ones on the battlefield. After Operation Protective Edge in 2014, there is added emphasis on cooperation between the Armored Corps and Infantry.
2nd Lieutenant Ben Amrani is a platoon commander for Givati soldiers in advanced training. He emphasized the importance of the exercise and constant preparation for the next possible war. The IDF (Zahal) continues to learn from past operations, thoroughly examining all types of situations.
Soldiers learn the importance of coordination as well as the strategic and moral challenges characterizing urban warfare. Lieutenant Aharon Stridower, a training officer in the Armored Corps, echoed 2nd Lt. Amrani’s sentiment. He explained that “training is the closest thing to reality, and the coordination is important to be ready for any front.”
Whether it’s civilians used as human shields, tunnel networks, or terrorists with knowledge of the area, the IDF (Zahal) will need to be prepared for this mode of combat. These exercises ensure we will be ready for whatever this volatile and unpredictable region brings.