An Israel Defense Forces exercise, dubbed “Firm Hand,” which began on Monday and will last two weeks, simulates a war beginning with a clash in the north and spreading to other fronts, including Iran.
Under the command of the IDF General Staff, the large-scale drill simulates intense multi-arena war. It involves the Israel Air Force, Navy, ground force, and units active on the electromagnetic spectrum and in the cyber arena, the IDF stated.
The exercise’s northern focus is reflected by the fact that it is being led by Northern Command’s 91st “Galilee” Division, responsible for defending against Hezbollah from Lebanon, and the 36th Ga’ash (Golan) Armored Division, which is responsible for the Syrian border.
The first week of the drill tests these divisions’ ability to deal with attacks by Hezbollah and aligned terror groups from the northern front and to take the fight to the enemy in its own territory.
Simulating the most extreme scenarios, the exercise’s simulation expands to include direct hostilities with Iran.
“There will be hundreds of aircraft in the air of all types—fighter jets, including F-35s, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles,” a military source told JNS.
Reservists are joining active service units in the drill. The “Spectrum” units will practice disrupting enemy communications.
“We understand that almost every war scenario will involve multiple arenas,” the source stated.
Such a scenario would be starkly different from the five-day conflict (“Operation Shield and Arrow”) Israel fought against Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza earlier this month—a conflict that could have expanded to other arenas had it continued.
The current drill, the largest since the May 2022 “Chariots of Fire” exercise, though smaller in scale, has been planned long in advance.
The IDF Home Front Command will test its plans to save lives, without disrupting routine in the civilian sector.
“As part of the exercise, the active maneuvering of security personnel will be felt throughout the country: military and armored vehicles, aircraft and naval vessels,” said the IDF.
The exercise has gained the attention of the United States Central Command (CENTCOM), which is responsible for the Middle East.
On Tuesday, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant hosted CENTCOM commander Gen. Michael Kurilla at the ministry’s headquarters in Tel Aviv, briefing him on the exercise.
“Minister Gallant expressed his appreciation to Gen. Kurilla for his great contribution to the ongoing cooperation and deep bond between the United States and Israel. He also emphasized the importance of U.S. involvement in ensuring stability and expanding the circle of peace in the Middle East,” a statement by Gallant’s office said.
Gallant, together with IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, also updated Kurilla on the achievements during “Operation Shield and Arrow” against PIJ in Gaza.
Kurilla’s three-day visit, which began on Tuesday, included a visit to Military Intelligence’s Unit 504, the human intelligence unit, and an operational panel discussion with Halevi on ways to boost joint capabilities and coordination.
Kurilla also participated on Tuesday in a situational assessment at the IDF General Staff Operations Center in Tel Aviv as part of the “Firm Hand” exercise.