Northern command is practicing direct conflict with Hezbollah fighters in bid to keep its troops on their toes, in wake of what top commanders are calling Hezbollah’s ‘compulsive’ documentation of IDF movements.
By Yoav Zitun
The IDF has recently shown soldiers manning the northern border a peculiar set of pictures – Hezbollah men, in full regalia, armed with proper military equipment, carefully watching and documenting the IDF’s movements.
“This is a group that is compulsive in its data collection regarding the IDF’s movements,” a senior ranking officer from the northern command told Ynet in regards to Hezbollah.
Despite IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz‘s statement that “fire is singeing the edge of Nasrallah’s robes,” the terrorist group is still active in the Shiite villages of southern Lebanon.
“They show up on the border with new vehicles and fully uniformed; they set up a camera and advanced night vision equipment, and follow our troop’s every movement. This not necessarily a violation, and Lebanon’s army does not confront them, but we try to break our routine as much as possible,” he said.
“Hezbollah is beginning to feel more comfortable and has begun pushing the boundaries. It has recently begun to fortify its (affiliated) Shiite villages as well as reconstructing firing positions and infrastructure,” he noted.
The challenge facing the division’s commanders – commands who faced heavy criticism for their conduct in the kidnappings and events prior to the Second Lebanon War – is how to keep soldiers alert despite the relative calm and picturesque landscapes of the north.
While along the Syrian border mortars fly in the air and al-Qeada operatives can be seen scurrying along the Syrian Golan; and in the south, the developments in Egypt make Hamas look moderate, Lebanon offers a more complex task for commanders.
The Herev (Sword) brigade, which is charged with manning the Lebanese border, completed a major exercise this week simulating a direct conflict with Hezbollah.
“At 2 am senior officers threw (lower ranking) regional commanders from their beds and informed them that their positions are taking fire, there are heavy causalities and that they have lost communications with one of their outpost – go!” a senior commander in charge of the exercise told Ynet.
The point was to get the troops “to go from 0 to 100,” he said, stressing the need to keep troops alert despite the quiet.
The twist is that the Herev brigade is comprised solely of soldiers of Druze ethnicity.
During the exercise they were forced to face off against soldiers from the Kfir brigade pretending to be Hezbollah fighters. The exercise itself seemed real enough, with smoke screens, plastic bullets and mock rocket launchers.
Lieutenant-Colonel Shadi Abu Fares, the brigade’s commander said: “We know Hezbollah is getting stronger and bolder. To preserve the operational (adrenaline) we strive to create quality operational exercises” allowing soldiers to engage even after they have been spotted by Hezbollah scouts.
View original Ynet publication at: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4398688,00.html