Israeli military train for next round with Hezbollah

Published 21 August 2009

During the summer 2006 war with Hezbollah, the Israeli military had difficulties locating rocket launchers — and Hezbollah fighters — hiding in bunkers and tunnels in heavily forested areas and under civilian buildings; two new Israeli training centers, made entirely of rubber, will provide a mock Lebanese village connecting to a forest

General are often accused of preparing to fight the last war. It is thus good to see that Israeli generals are preparing to fight the next war. Mike Perry writes that Israel is introducing a new training regimen designed to prepare its soldiers for a urban and guerrilla warfare. The key to all this is the construction of  novel training centers at military bases throughout the country. This is part of a continuing process of learning lessons from war against Hezbollah in 2006.

During the 2006  war, bunkers inside forested areas or densely planted orchards (the Israeli military called these “nature reservations”) were discovered providing camouflaged positions for Hezbollah rocket launchers. Similar tactics continue to be used by Hezbollah. More recently, an IDF aircraft observed an explosion in Southern Lebanon house. There was a Hezbollah rocket cache there. The Israelis had also noted, months earlier, senior Hezbollah operatives entering a tunnel near the home, then emerging from an exit 700 meters away. It is believed many homes in southern Lebanon are built the same way.

Perry writes that replicating this environment as realistically as possible, two of these new Israeli training centers, made entirely of rubber, will provide a mock Lebanese village connecting to a forest. The intention is to train its soldiers how to deal in a dual combat environment including tunnels. More important, design of the centers allows live ammunition to be used with cameras providing immediate replay on what may be improved. In previous centers, only dry fire runs were permitted as shrapnel could wound trainees. The two rubber centers will be employed at the Kfir Brigade’s base in the Jordan Valley and the Golani Brigade’s near Binyama.

These new facilities join an earlier, much larger construction of a Lebanese urban area training mere months after the 2006 war ended. All signs indicate Israel is taking the necessary measures to ensure the surprises Hezbollah has planned will be expected and trained for beforehand.

Counterparts to the Israeli centers exist throughout the world such as the National Urban Warfare Center in Fort Irwin, California, Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in Butlerville, Indiana (largest in the United States), and the massive King Abdullah II Special Forces Training Center northeast of Amman, Jordan (largest in the world).