IDF launches major drill focused on preparing for all out multi-front war

During two-week-long ‘Firm Hand’ exercise, Air Force will conduct simulated ‘strategic’ strikes deep in enemy territory

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

IDF Artillery Corps and an Iron Dome air defense system are seen near the border with Lebanon, in northern Israel, April 6, 2023. (Ayal Margolin/Flash90)
IDF Artillery Corps and an Iron Dome air defense system are seen near the border with Lebanon, in northern Israel, April 6, 2023. (Ayal Margolin/Flash90)

The Israel Defense Forces on Monday launched a large-scale two-week-long drill across the country, simulating a potential multi-front war.

A military source said the drill would include the Air Force conducting simulated “strategic” strikes deep in enemy territory in an all out war scenario, and the Navy carrying out mock offensive and defensive actions.

The IDF said troops from the standing and reserve army, from nearly all units, would participate in the exercise — dubbed Firm Hand — over the next two weeks.

“The forces will practice handling challenges and sudden events on multiple fronts simultaneously,” the IDF said.

According to the military, the drill was pre-planned, meaning it did not stem from any recent security assessments.

The IDF warned that there would be a noted increase in security forces and aircraft across the country during the drill.

Illustrative: Fighter jets from the IAF’s second F-35 squadron, the Lions of the South, fly over southern Israel. (Israel Defense Forces)

Last year, the IDF held its largest drill in decades. The four-week-long exercise — called Chariots of Fire — also focused on sudden events erupting in multiple theaters at the same time, while mostly dealing with fighting the Iran-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The current drill comes after military chief Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi warned last Tuesday of potential “negative developments,” regarding Iran’s nuclear program that would cause Israel to react.

In this handout phot, IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi meets with other top commanders on May 13, 2023, during fighting against the Gaza-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group. (Israel Defense Forces)

During the speech at a conference in Herzliya, Halevi said Israel’s capabilities against Iran, “are good… We need to strengthen them more so that we can carry out a broad campaign against Iran.”

He said that a potential war against Iran would not be conducted in the same way as a battle in a single arena. “Given a game against five players, the strength of our power will be greater.”

Israel has been pushing for the US to prepare military contingency plans in order to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. US President Joe Biden has said he is prepared to use military force if necessary, but still prefers to exhaust the diplomatic route first.

In light of the lack of progress regarding a return by Iran to a 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers, however, the IDF ramped up efforts over the past two years to prepare a credible military threat against Tehran’s nuclear sites.

During the Chariots of Fire drill last year, dozens of Air Force fighter jets conducted air maneuvers over the Mediterranean Sea, simulating striking Iranian nuclear facilities.

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