The IDF Herev Battalion, made up of members of Israel’s Druze community, has gained many years of experience performing unique missions near the Israel-Lebanon border. In the 2006 Second Lebanon War, for instance, Herev was the first force to cross the border and the last to return – exhausted from completing a range of complex missions that earned the unit a citation.
The Herev Battalion, referred to as the IDF’s “spearhead on the Lebanon border”, used its wealth of operational experience in the region to develop new combat techniques for fighting against Hezbollah. These new techniques were tested last week for the first time in an intensive battalion-wide exercise.
“Combat in Lebanon demands the use of heavy armor and the slow advancement of troops,” explained Lt. Col. Shadi Abu Fares, commander of the Herev Battalion. He went on to explain that fighting Hezbollah requires a specific method of combat, which includes the intensive use of firepower.
“In order to fight against the enemy in Lebanon in the most correct manner, we took the techniques that exist today in the IDF for fighting in open areas, and we made the necessary adjustments. With the help of the battalion’s experience, and combined with an understanding of what to expect next time, we managed to develop a better and more efficient method,” he said.
As part of the conclusions drawn from the exercise, a special document was drafted to present the techniques, which will be sent to officers throughout the IDF in order to assist in building a new combat doctrine for fighting against terror organizations.
“The Herev Battalion must teach the entire IDF how to fight effectively against Hezbollah,” said Col. Zion Ratzon, commander of the regional brigade to which the Herev Battalion is subordinate.
“There are additional adjustments to be made, but the technique proved itself during the exercise. We can already see how the fighters are now speaking a new language and that there is confidence in the methods that we tested,” Lt. Col. Abu Fares said.
HEZBOLLAH GROWING BOLDER IN ITS PROVOCATIONS
The new combat techniques were put to the test in the Herev Battalion’s most recent exercise, which took place last week and consisted of three days of non-stop fighting in the Upper Galilee and Golan Heights. The exercise simulated the battalion’s role during combat while functioning as part of a full brigade, in order to train the commanders to cooperate with other forces.
The troops were accompanied by a tank platoon on their journey through the hilly terrain, while combat engineering teams cleared paths through the thick scrub and artillery forces provided suppressing fire that shook the northern Golan Heights. The goal of the method: provide so much fire that “the enemy cannot lift its head.”
The exercise simulated as closely as possible full-fledged combat in Lebanon, requiring the troops to deal with enemy rocket fire falling on their staging areas, sudden changes in mission plans and evacuating casualties in armored personnel carriers (APCs).
“It was a drill against Hezbollah in every respect,” Lt. Col. Abu Faris said. “Following [the exercise], I can say with certainty that the Herev Battalion is ready for anything.”
A senior officer in the sector explained last week that Hezbollah’s actions in southern Lebanon are becoming more and more aggressive. Israeli forces stationed on the border observe well how Hezbollah agents work around the clock in the villages of southern Lebanon to gather intelligence on the IDF.
The Herev Battalion, whose soldiers’ families live in northern Israel and are likely to be the first to suffer from a Hezbollah attack, continues to prepare for the “day after” on the sensitive Lebanese border.
“Changes in the region obligate us to be ready for war,” the regional brigade commander said at the end of the exercise. “For every eventuality that we will be needed, with the Herev Battalion I feel more confident than any other battalion.”