IDF chief conducts surprise check of navy’s ability to fight in north
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IDF chief conducts surprise check of navy’s ability to fight in north

Army says initial assessments indicate navy operating at high level of preparedness; unannounced drill is first in a series Kohavi is set to perform

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi speaks to Israeli Navy soldiers on the stern of a ship in the Haifa Port during a surprise exercise on September 25, 2019. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi speaks to Israeli Navy soldiers on the stern of a ship in the Haifa Port during a surprise exercise on September 25, 2019. (Israel Defense Forces)

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi conducted a surprise assessment of the Israeli Navy Wednesday, testing its ability to react quickly to a maritime threat along the country’s northern coast, the military said.

This was the first in a series of tests Kohavi plans to conduct in the coming months, looking specifically at the military’s ability to shift from peacetime activities to wartime operations, the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement Thursday.

The surprise drills took place in and around the navy’s Haifa Base, which is home to a wide variety of naval vessels, including small patrol boats, warships and submarines, all of which took part in the exercise.

The Israeli Navy is expected to play a key role in any future war with Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group, as the organization has identified Israel’s offshore natural gas platforms and other maritime locations as key targets.

An Israeli Navy ship takes part in a surprise exercise off of Israel’s northern coast on September 25, 2019. (Israel Defense Forces)

“The navy’s Haifa Base led and operated the force’s capabilities, above and below the water, in the air and on the ground. Large amounts of naval forces took part in the exercise, working together with ground forces from the Northern Command and in cooperation with air force troops and civilian emergency personnel,” the IDF said.

The military said the exercise included attack and defense missions, practicing various operational plans and the use of advanced weaponry in complicated fighting scenarios.

An Israeli Navy soldier takes part in a surprise exercise off of Israel’s northern coast on September 25, 2019. (Israel Defense Forces)

“During his visit to the drill, initial findings were presented to the chief of staff showing that the navy’s fitness level was high,” the military said.

These types of surprise tests are conducted regularly within the IDF. This was Kohavi’s first round of assessments since taking over as IDF chief of staff earlier this year.

The Israeli military has come under fire in recent years with allegations that it is not prepared for a full-scale war.

These concerns were first raised publicly by the former military ombudsman, Maj. Gen. (res.) Yitzhak Brick, who accused the IDF of failing to abide by its own standards and covering up its inadequacies.

The IDF has denied Brick’s allegations, maintaining that it is at its highest level of preparedness for war in decades, while at the same time taking steps to improve its readiness.

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