July 27, 2009 -- In the face of Hizbullah's heavy deployment inside southern Lebanese villages, the IDF is creating a new training regimen for infantry troops to prepare them for a combination of urban and guerrilla warfare by building special training centers in military bases across the country.
Shortly after the Second Lebanon War in 2006, the IDF built a replica of a Hizbullah "nature reserve" - a forested area where the group had dug bunkers and deployed rocket launchers - to train IDF troops. Now, the IDF is building an urban warfare center - consisting of a mock Lebanese village - which it plans to connect to the replica of the nature reserve.
"Hizbullah has created most of its positions inside homes in southern Lebanon," explained a senior IDF officer last week, adding that an example of this had been demonstrated two weeks ago with the accidental explosion of a Hizbullah rocket cache inside a home in the village of Khirbet Selm.
The home, the IDF later revealed, was also connected to an underground series of tunnels that led to additional positions in nature reserves.
In footage taken several months before the explosion, an IDF aircraft caught several senior Hizbullah operatives entering an underground tunnel near the house and reappearing from an exit 700 meters away.
"During the Second Lebanon War, our biggest challenges were the nature reserves that Hizbullah had created in the open," the officer said. "Now, the challenge will be to fight against Hizbullah in an urban setting and then to move through the tunnels into the forest."
In order to meet the operational challenge, the IDF is creating special training centers like the one at Elyakim, which combine urban and guerrilla warfare. In the coming months, the IDF will begin construction of a similar center at the Lachish training base, near Beit Shemesh.
In addition to constructing the new training facilities, the IDF is purchasing two rubber urban training centers - each consisting of 18 structures - in which soldiers will be allowed to carry out live-fire exercises. In the current urban training centers, the IDF can only hold dry-fire exercises, since live fire would generate shrapnel that could injure the soldiers.
In the new centers, made completely of rubber, the soldiers will be able to shoot live bullets, since they would be absorbed by the walls. The new centers also come with built-in camera systems that enable quick examination of the results of the exercise.
The two rubber centers will be stationed at the Kfir Brigade's training base in the Jordan Valley and the Golani Brigade's training base near Binyamina.
THE JERUSALEM POST
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