IDF launches drill simulating multi-front war

IDF launches drill simulating multi-front war

Four-day exercise to focus on communication between headquarters and various units, with representatives from across the military taking part

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

Officers in the IDF Northern Command give a briefing to IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi, center, and other top officers during a surprise exercise in northern Israel in November 2019. (Israel Defense Forces)
Illustrative: Officers in the IDF Northern Command give a briefing to IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi, center, and other top officers during a surprise exercise in northern Israel in November 2019. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israel Defense Forces on Sunday launched a large-scale exercise simulating a war on multiple fronts, with units throughout the military taking part, the army said.

The four-day drill will be held as a “headquarters exercise,” the IDF said, meaning it will focus on the more administrative aspects of such a war, not on tactical training of soldiers in the field.

The purpose of the exercise is to test and improve the communication between different parts of the military, wartime operations, and interdepartmental planning, the IDF said.

Representatives from the Northern Command, Southern Command, Ground Forces, Air Force, Navy, Intelligence Directorate, and Telecommunications and Cyber Defense Directorate will take part in the drill.

The exercise was scheduled to end on Wednesday. The military said it was planned in advance and is therefore not tied to a new, specific threat.

In general, however, the military believes that a future war in the north may quickly spread and become a multi-front conflict, with terror groups from Lebanon, Syria and the Gaza Strip all taking part.

Last month, the military held a surprise cyber defense exercise simulating an attack that shut down critical computer systems, in the third surprise inspection of the military’s readiness under IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi, who entered his position last year.

“During the exercise, hundreds of command and control computer stations were disabled in IDF units,” the military said.

Illustrative: Soldiers from the IDF Home Front Command work in a command center used to oversee the country’s alert system in an undated photograph. (Israel Defense Forces)

In November, Kohavi held the previous surprise military exercise, in northern Israel, with thousands of conscripted soldiers and reservists taking part.

“The troops simulated the rapid turnover from everyday to emergency, from defense to attack; the processes of gathering troops and weapons; taking out equipment; and the movement of forces through the region,” the army said at the time.

November’s surprise drill was held in the Jezreel Valley and Upper Galilee in northern Israel; it was meant to test the military’s readiness for the sudden outbreak of war in the north, specifically against the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group and other Iranian proxies in the region.

In September, Kohavi ordered his first surprise inspection of military preparedness, testing the navy’s ability to react quickly to a maritime threat along the country’s northern coast.

Those 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.

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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