Soldiers from the Israeli Army’s Kfir Infantry Brigade trained with sophisticated robots and elite special forces to learn how to fight enemy terrorists in tunnels beneath the Earth’s surface.
Soldiers in the IDF are constantly training to protect Israel from the air, at sea, on land and, just as importantly, beneath the Earth’s surface. To that end, the Lavi Battalion’s operations company participated in a week-long underground combat training exercise last week. The unique exercise took place at the Northern Command’s central training base and was designed to train the fighters, who normally specialize in the Judea and Samaria region, for combat in all arenas.
“We understand that in the next war, the brigade will need to face a different kind of enemy,” company commander Major Baruch Ram explained. “Therefore, we need to deal with combat in shrubland, which is terrain with dense vegetation, in urban terrain and underground. A scenario in which we are forced to deal with all three terrains in one battle is likely.”
Underground warfare delivers its own set of unique challenges to soldiers seeking to clear entrenched terrorist positions. Given the technological difficulty in gaining an image of what is taking place beneath the surface, combined with the severely limited scope of physical movement for soldiers inside tunnels and bunkers, subterranean combat demands professional and unique fighting techniques. Among them, the integration of special forces and use of the incredible EyeBall – a ball-shaped camera that conducts a 360 degree scan of the area in which it is deployed.
“First you need to scan the area with the EyeBall in order to ensure that the enemy has not placed explosive charges in the tunnel,” Maj. Ram explained. “After entering, you need to advance with caution because it is a sealed area, like a corridor with many rooms on the sides. You need to work very professionally – if there is anyone in one of the rooms he could cause great damage leading to many casualties.”
[The EyeBall System: a little black ball is quietly tossed into a house. Within seconds the ball stabilizes itself and transmits a full 360° view of the whole room to the soldiers outside. They can now see and hear everything that is going on inside and have all the necessary information to safely enter the house. Only slightly larger than a tennis-ball and equipped with a state-of-the-art camera with infrared capabilities, the Eye-Ball improves the IDF's soldiers performance, and asserts their status as some of the best fighting forces in the world.]
The operations company from the Kfir Brigade’s Lavi Battalion took some time out from its operational deployment in the Mount Hebron area for the week-long training exercise. “We prepare the force for combat while engaging in routine security work. The company has a forward platoon, a demolitions platoon and an underground combat platoon, and during the training every platoon dealt with its own specialization,” Maj. Ram explained.
“It was an excellent training, of a very professional platoon that has undergone much training in the past. But the moment that you have the platform and facilities of the Northern Command’s training base, it raises the level. Its important to remain alert, so that they will be professional and ready in their fields of expertise. The platoons also underwent weapons training, open terrain training, grenade throwing and Krav Maga – everything that an infantry unit needs,” Maj. Ram said.
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Kfir began its seven-year journey as an infantry brigade as a specialist force for the Judea and Samaria region. Today it is the largest infantry brigade in the Israeli military, and its fighters are trained for combat in every terrain and arena, from Israel’s northern extremity to its southern tip.
“Five months ago the brigade conducted an operative training exercise in the Golan Heights, and we are always ready for every threat,” Maj. Ram explained. “Today it is clear to us that the brigade will need to face many issues in combat. In Pillar of Defense we were mobilized to Gaza. Once, people would look at Kfir and say that it would take many years for us to reach our current situation. I think that relative to seven years, our capacity is very impressive.”