In the past two weeks, IDF forces have been participating in large scale North Corps exercises that simulate war with the Shiite terror organization Hezbollah in Lebanon. The attack exercises included cooperation between the Air Force and ground forces, including the transfer of fighters between arenas and the reinforcement of supplies of equipment and food. The Nahal Brigade’s reconnaissance regiment practiced using cargo helicopters to get to fighting zones. And naval vessels were integrated in simulating defense and attack along Israel’s maritime border to the north.
“We are in the second week of the exercise, after we first dealt with defense. This week we are practicing an IDF attack on enemy territory,” Brigadier General Nadav Lotan who heads Division 319 (an armored reserve division subordinate to the Northern Command), told defense reporters. “Currently, the division, including all its reservists, is working to capture enemy territory – to deliver an operational victory in the northern arena.”
Another senior officer referred to the possibility that Hezbollah would try to occupy areas in the northern sector of Israel and hold them for a long time, suggesting “there is no scenario in which Hezbollah can occupy territory inside Israel. I assume that they would say that they did, but in such a situation, in the face of the forces we have – and considering the defensive structure of the Northern Command – it will not happen.”
The senior officer added that “some of our capabilities are open and some are hidden; in any case we will not allow them to hold such an asset for long, and the question is not whether or not the line of contact between us will be breached, but to what extent”
“Hezbollah has transformed from a guerilla organization to a kind of military organization, and now it is definitely that,” the senior officer summed up the IDF’s advantages and disadvantages, saying it is easier to figure out Hezbollah’s moves as an army.
One scenario in the exercises had Hezbollah reeking havoc along the border with rockets and missiles, causing civilian casualties. “The goal is to occupy territory [across the border] in order to enable the political echelon to negotiate a better agreement,” the senior officer explained.
As part of the exercise, Hezbollah tried to hit the forces’ headquarters and the assembly and arrival areas. The officer admitted that the fire intensity of that scenario surprised him. “The scale of the firepower we faced created a dilemma that affected the depth and scope of our response,” he reported.
Another senior officer said, “We will not chase after every last rocket, we will not handle every launch pad. So how will we achieve an operational advantage? With ground maneuvers, aimed at killing the enemy and destroying infrastructures—from the air as well—while simultaneously operating in densely populated areas.”
One officer was asked about the manner in which a war with Hezbollah was supposed to end, and concluded: “If a map is presented and we do not have to explain it, the IDF has won.”