With the beginning of the exercise, commander of the armored brigade 401, Colonel Itzik Turgeman told soldiers of the ninth battalion, "From the last war we learned that we have no other tank operators. Now we need bring back our entire identity and it will happen during this training.”
“We will start from the basics and we will reach the brigade exercise with live fire, despite we have not done this in years. We will stop playing pretend. The training will be difficult, but will prepare you for any development," he explained.
Even Col. Turgeman, a long time armored officer who received this command only two months ago, confessed he was excited. During the Lebanon war, 12 of the brigade's soldiers were killed and 38 were injured.
Col. Turgeman with troops (Photo: Yaron Brener)
Among the wounded was commander of the ninth battalion Lt. Colonel Efi who only recently returned to his command. Turgeman said that he was moved when he saw the Israeli flag flying next to the flags of his brigade at the training grounds on the Golan.
The training of the ninth battalion is not an isolated occurrence, but is indicative of a greater training revolution that is currently happening in the IDF as a result of the war. The rest of the brigade's battalions are also beginning their training this week which will start from the most basic skills.
"I expect personal responsibility from each and every one of you," Turgeman told his soldiers. "Everyone should be versed in every action, and if he doesn't know, he should ask, and practice again," he said.
"Forget everything that is written in the newspapers. You need to be proud of yourselves for what you have done and for your courage," Turgeman said, but emphasized that the future was not certain and there were other fronts that could erupt.
He mentioned Iran and Syria’s presidents, as well as Hizbullah and terror organizations in the Gaza Strip, saying that in order to be prepared, training was needed.
“You will work hard. You will eat battle meals. Because that’s what there is at war, you will sit in tanks, change ammunitions, change clothes, you will do everything. If you have a malfunction, you will learn to fix it alone. You’ll be a little cold, you’ll have fewer hours of sleep, but that way we will be prepared,” he elaborated.
Turgeman concluded, “So far, training has been unorganized, not at all at the battalion level, and the soldiers were missing that. Training is aggressive. After basic drills, we’ll practice field operations in order to be prepared for any scenario in Gaza or the West Bank, and we’ll even train for the possibility of an opened Northern front.”