Hezbollah’s fighters are gaining more combat experience in Syria, but IDF engineers are preparing to face the threat. The IDF’s Battalion 603 recently took part in a large-scale exercise that simulated a conflict with the Lebanese terrorist group.
The morning before Battalion 603’s exercise was set to begin, reports of a weapons convoy from Syria to Lebanon were abuzz in the international media. Such reports have become commonplace as of late.
The Assad regime has been transferring weapons to Hezbollah amid the chaos of the Syrian civil war. It happened to be that on this specific morning, the IDF managed to halt the Lebanon-bound weapons convoy.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and Syrian President Bashar Assad
“One cannot ignore the fact that Hezbollah is fighting in Syria. In the next confrontation, they will be more creative and experienced,” said the battalion’s commander, Lt. Col. Roy Ziverberg.
“We are witnessing the enhancement of Hezbollah’s capabilities. Apparently, its cooperation with Assad’s army has taught the organization to use more sophisticated operating systems,” Lt. Col. Ziverberg stressed. The battalion’s commander added that if Hezbollah went to fight in Syria armed with a certain level of experience, they will return to Lebanon with even stronger capabilities.
Charging into enemy territory
The battalion completed an exercise that was meant to simulate a conflict with Hezbollah as accurately as possible.
At the beginning of the exercise, soldiers simulated short skirmishes in an area meant to represent the northern border. To overpower the Hezbollah forces, the soldiers charged into enemy territory. Rushing into Lebanon, however, is no simple task.
“Fighting in Lebanon from start to finish is an engineering challenge,” said the battalion commander. “Lebanon has a series of challenging elements that we need to bypass. This begins with the need to get through the fence, cross over a minefield, and pass underground structures that need to be destroyed. Next, the soldiers encounter another field of explosive charges and boobytrapped pits that need to be disabled,” emphasized Lt. Col. Ziverberg.
A female combat engineer instructor (Read her story)
A great effort was made so that the exercise would resemble a real-life mission. Maps and figures were accurate to the last detail – from technical specifications to the tactics of warfare – in order to give the soldiers the feeling that they were in Lebanon. During the fighting, soldiers heard imaginary explosions, and they were made to experience the cacophony of battle.
The exercise took place in the Galilee, where the terrain is similar to Southern Lebanon. “This was the first experience of my company in rocky terrain, on hard ground and in the thicket,” said one company commander.
Reconnaissance Battalion of the IDF Artillery Corps’ 401
Along with tanks, artillery, drones and attack helicopters, a special company responsible for operating large machinery participated in the exercise. “We explored methods of movement in open space, and enhanced the capabilities of the battalion to break through large obstacles using armored combat engineering vehicles,” said Company Commander Cpt. Ron Kohani.
Lt. Col. Ziverberg summed up the exercise in a motivational speech to the soldiers. “We’re extremely fortunate to be able to train in a realistic war simulation and in a terrain so similar to that of the enemy. After this exercise, I feel more confident to go to war knowing that you’re behind me.”