New IDF training procedures will ‘sharpen edge, make it more lethal’

The controversial move will reduce brigade exercises and place greater emphasis on intelligence, high-tech and simulators.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

In a move that has aroused controversy both within and without Israel’s military, the IDF has put in place a new training doctrine that eliminates brigade-level training exercises, Israel Hayom reported on Tuesday.

The decision was made strictly on the basis of improving the soldiers’ preparation for war, and is not a function of a lack of money, said the military sources.

Senior officers said that during the training overview, infantry commanders especially on the lower levels “felt the [brigade] exercises don’t meet the challenges they will face on the battlefield.”

The IDF has already begun increasing the frequency of the company – and battalion-level exercises.

A greater focus will be put on intelligence and high-tech elements, and more resources will be devoted to them, the army said.

This will “sharpen the operational edge,” according to one source, “to make it more lethal.”

In addition to the smaller groups running drills more often, there will be two huge divisional-level exercises each year. These will include air force and armored corps personnel as well as all the senior officers of the relevant commands (North, South, Central), including the General Staff with all its directorates.

If a brigade is not scheduled to be included in that year’s divisional drills, its officers will spend a week running through operational scenarios on simulators instead, and will be judged on their performance. The daily’s source claimed that “this will be far more effective than [being] in the field.”

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This stands in sharp contrast to how the army has trained for the last decade – ever since the 2006 Second Lebanon War, when the IDF’s poor performance was blamed on the lack of drilling on all levels due to budget constraints.

A full brigade-level exercise became mandatory at least once a year, and on alternate years it was conducted twice.

The change is not without its detractors, said the report. Critics maintain that the lack of training on the brigade level will lead to a lack of competence on the part of their commanders, especially in the reserves. Simulators, in their opinion, can’t take the place of actual training on the ground.

They note that the core of the IDF’s operational plans is still based on brigade-sized forces. “It seems like someone wants to show that they are reinventing everything. It could be dangerous,” one warned.