Future IDF operations “on a general scale” will not look like Operation Cast Lead and will be “wider and more intensive”, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said after viewing a combined air, sea and ground forces exercise Tuesday. The exercise was held at Shizafon Base in southern Israel.
Also present at the exercise were Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Deputy IDF Chief of Staff, Maj.-Gen. Dan Harel, Ground Forces Commander Maj.-Gen. Avi Mizrachi and other senior officers from the General Staff and Ground Forces.
Exercise at Shizafon (IDF website)
The exercise simulated a war situation on one of Israel’s security fronts. Units from all of the IDF’s ground corps were represented: Infantry, Armor, Artillery, Engineering and Field Intelligence. IAF aircraft and anti-aircraft guns also participated.
The forces displayed a variety of weapons and employed live fire in the drill. The audience was largely made up of cadets from Bahad 1, the IDF’s Officer Training School.
“We expect you to prepare the units for every possible test,” Defense Minister Barak told the future officers. “We, on the government level, will work to avoid that test from materializing.”
PM Netanyahu at the exercise (IDF website)
Barak, Netanyahu, Harel at exercise (IDF website)
Netanyahu: spirit decides wars
Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed the cadets and noted that the third anniversary of the Second Lebanon War is coming up at the week’s end. “I can say that the IDF has learned many lessons, has implemented the lessons, and that the IDF is a stronger and better-trained army, and is capable of taking care of the security threats that face the State of Israel today.”
Netanyahu, himself a veteran of an elite commando unit, told the cadets that “in the end, battles are decided by spirit and determination. In ‘Cast Lead’ I saw spirit and determination, soldiers and commanders in the hospitals at Be’er Sheva who get up with their bandages [still on] and say – ‘we’re going back to our soldiers; we’re going back to our friends.’”
Netanyahu added: “I see the same spirit that has accompanied us from the country’s founding, but with improved capabilities.”