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SHIVTA ARTILLERY BASE, ISRAEL—While the highly publicized Iron Dome provides a defense against missiles and rockets, Israel has more than Gaza on its plate.
As the “Arab Spring” raises concerns of instability along the Egyptian border and Iran’s nuclear threat looms, Israel is always thinking a few steps ahead—or more precisely, into the future—when it comes to military technology.
Thudding Israeli artillery shells and a dramatic F-16 jet and Apache helicopter-aided tank assault on a mock enemy desert encampment concluded a recent three-day conference on how digitally wired armies can process immense amounts of battlefield data, in real time, in order to win.
“The ability to connect the systems of the various corps and formations while responding to all the events on the battlefield is critical,” said Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Maj.-Gen. Uzi Moscovici, speaking May 22 to military representatives of 15 countries at Israel’s 2012 conference on “Air & Land Jointness in a Complex Environment.”
“We want to create a common language between the command and control systems of intelligence, ground forces, the general staff and the air force. Condense it to a single picture,” said Moscovici, who heads the IDF’s Computer Service Directorate, according to the IDF.
An “A-list” of Israeli military, strategic and tactical planning officials addressed the delegates, including Minister of Strategic Affairs, Lt.-Gen. (Res.) Moshe Yaalon, Deputy Commander of the Depth Corps, Brig.-Gen. Gal Hirsch, and IDF Deputy Chief of Staff, Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh.
Additionally, US Army Artillery Corps officers and the Polish and Romanian militaries shared their experience and knowledge with the group, organizers said.
The final live-fire demonstration May 24, which took place at the Shivta Field Artillery School deep in the dusty rolling hills of the Negev, was meant to display a distillation of what Israel has learned in efficiently “combining on the battlefield... artillery, the air force, and tanks,” battery commander Cap. Menachem Yefet told JointMedia News Service after the haze of battle cleared and the last crackle of machine gun fire echoed across the tawny plain.
Military attaches from the U.S., Great Britain, Poland, Greece, Turkey and Egypt were among the dozens of delegates who watched the mini-battle unfold as they sat beneath camouflage netting on a hilltop reviewing stand.
An individual in the American delegation, who requested anonymity, told JointMedia News Service that the event was a good way to share firsthand knowledge and lessons gained from other countries’ fighting experiences.
The event focused on the “use of fire support from both the ground and the air in a complex combat environment ... covering lessons learned from recent experiences both in Israel and abroad,” according to the organizers.
“We’re trying to show how much the abilities of the artillery have been upgraded,” Yefet said, adding that during the demonstration, the army showed off its use of the Multiple Launch Rocket System and precision-targeted short-range missiles.
“It’s a great way to show off what our abilities are,” he said, noting that the IDF “is ready at any minute they are called.” He added that some 70 artillery shells were fired in the display, in addition to two missiles and other ground and airborne-fired munitions.
“We’re always ready for the next battlefield,” Yefet said.