Monday, April 2, 2012
Fearing Syria war, Gantz holds surprise drills
Fearing a future war with Syria, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.- Gen. Benny Gantz held a surprise drill inspection of two key military bases in the North on Sunday to ensure that they will be able to continue operating in the event of significant missile attacks.
Commanders at the bases – one a critical ammunition depot and the other a key maintenance base for IDF armored vehicles – were surprised when Gantz and other senior officers arrived at the gates of their bases to review operations there.
A senior IDF officer who participated in the inspections said that they were aimed at ensuring the military’s readiness for a wide range of scenarios including possible war with Syria as well as additional border demonstrations like those held over the weekend.
“Our assumption is that both of these bases will come under major missile fire in a future war and nevertheless, soldiers there will need to know how to continue to operate,” the officer said.
The officer said that commanders and soldiers at both bases had invested in digging trenches as well as the construction of various reinforced structures throughout the bases that could be used to protect soldiers.
Surprise inspections like those conducted on Sunday have become Gantz’s trademark since he took up the post as chief of staff in February 2011. On the eve of Yom Kippur in October, for example, Gantz held a drill in the North during which he scrambled various units to ensure that they could be quickly mobilized if a war erupted.
At the end of a visit to the Ramon Air Force Base a few months ago, in another example, Gantz announced that the Syrian Air Force had infiltrated Israeli airspace and was on its way to bomb targets in the South.
Gantz stood by, watching the clock as fighter jets were mobilized and pilots suited up and jumped into their cockpits.
He called off the surprise drill only after the jets were already on the runway and about to take off.
Gantz has explained that the objective of the drills is to help create a new mindset within the IDF according to which Israel needs to be prepared for the possibility that war could erupt without warning, particularly in light of the ongoing upheaval sweeping the Middle East.
Meanwhile Sunday, the IDF was holding joint air and navy maneuvers with the United States and Greece in the Mediterranean Sea. According to reports in the Greek press, the drill was focusing on air-toair combat scenarios as well as anti-submarine warfare. The drill is under the supervision of the US’s Sixth Fleet.
The exercise, called Noble Dina, was first held in 2011 and came to fill a void created after Turkey pulled out of joint maneuvers it had held with Israel since 1998 after Ankara suspended military cooperation with the IDF in 2010.