Friday, October 19, 2012

IDF tank battalion practices racing to war

(JPost) An IDF tank battalion stationed in the Jordan Valley held a major drill this week to practice racing to a war front during a simulated outbreak of hostilities. The drill involved reserve army companies for the first time.

The reserves joined conscripted solders on the field in an exercise not held by the battalion in a long time on such a large scale.

“We understand we will be among the first forces that respond at a war front. That’s why we’re preparing,” Col. Yohai Benhur, commander of Battalion 9, part of the IDF’s Armored Corps 401 Brigade, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday. During the drill, held at the large Nabi Musa base near the Dead Sea, Merkava 4 tanks fitted with the Wind Jacket anti-rocket shield fired live ammunition.

IDF soldiers played the enemy, and moved around the ‘battlefield’ as guerrilla forces armed with shoulder-held antitank missiles.

“It was a surprise mobilization. Soldiers found themselves at Nabi Musa on Tuesday night, and by Wednesday morning, the ‘fighting’ had begun,” Benhur said.

“Intensive fighting in hilly country was simulated,” he added.

In addition to tank fire, artillery and infantry units joined the drill to see how quickly they could link up with the tanks.

“All the forces that the battalion would need to fight a war were involved,” Benhur added.

“This has increased the battalion’s readiness in a very good way. Even before this we were ready, but today, our readiness is at the maximum level,” he said.

Though stationed in the Jordan Valley area, Battalion 9 could find itself on a southern or northern battle front within hours in the event of an escalation.