The IDF often participates in training exercises alongside foreign militaries, generally the Air Force or small, special units. Recently though, some 300 infantry troops travelled to Germany, with all of their weapons and equipment, to participate in an international military exercise; they were joined by a Ynet reporter.
The IDF leased a Boeing 747 to transport the troops and an additional 25 tons of weapons and combat gear, including canines, were also sent. Some 6,000 kosher ready to eat meals (MREs), meant to feed American Jewish troops stationed in Germany, were allocated to the Israeli soldiers, along with meat, chicken, fish, cheese and fresh fruits and vegetables, all kosher, which were acquired in Europe.
The troops spent almost three weeks in Europe; the exercise itself lasted ten days and was held at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC), a WWII era Wermacht base currently occupied by US forces, in the southern German state of Bavaria.
Aside from ammunition, which was supplied by the Americans, the troops brought practically everything along with them from Israel: sleeping bags, radio equipment, combat dogs and specialized equipment.
Upon landing in Munich airport, the troops went through a specially set-up customs and passport control, arranged by German authorities to ease the process, and were then transported to the training base by rented busses.
The troops were fed two meat meals a day in a kitchen supplied by the American forces that was made kosher by the military rabbinate. Refrigeration containers were rented and food pantries were also supplied by US forces.
Because the elections took place while they were abroad, a team from the Israeli Consulate, headed by Orit Danon, made sure to bring polling booths for the soldiers to vote in the Knesset elections.
“The Land of Israel is small; there is no area in which we have not already trained and are not familiar with,” explained Lt. Col. Oded Zisman, commander of the Reconnaissance Battalion. “For the first time, we experienced completely new terrain with different features, which must be analyzed and studied in order to navigate.”
Lt. Col. Zisman advised Maj. Gen. Kobi Barak, commander of the IDF Ground Forces, who came to observe the exercise, to make it an annual event. “(True) there are associated logistics and transportation costs, but here the exercise is held with simulated fire without ammunition, which in Israel would have cost a lot of money. Here we get transported by helicopter and collaborate with tanks, all for free.”