Ten years after the Second Lebanon War, the IDF Artillery Corps is preparing for a scenario in which it might have to enter Lebanon with a grand-scale training exercise. The Corps’ Unit 215, also known as the Pillar of Fire formation, practiced responding to a situation that required its troops to cross the border deep into Lebanon. As part of their training, a simulated village was erected in the Jordan Valley, in which soldiers from the Nahal and Givati Brigades posed as Hezbollah operatives.
The practice included the shooting of the highly precise Tamuz missile. The missile is equipped with an electro-optic system, so that the blast was recorded from the missile’s point of view.
The Artillery Corps refrained from entering Lebanon during the Second Lebanon War, shooting its missiles from within Israel. Since then, however, Hezbollah has greatly dispersed its forces, setting up its missile launchers and centers of operations just north of the border.
According to military estimations, Hezbollah now has the capabilities to locate the source of the IDF’s artillery fire and to intercept it. Subsequently, the IDF estimated that if and when another confrontation with Hezbollah will come about, Israel will be forced to send its ground forces—specifically its Armored, Infantry, Engineering and Artillery Corps—into Lebanon.
To train for such a scenario, the Artillery soldiers taking part in the exercise were ordered to set up flash deployments in the field, while also being able to pack up and move sites on demand. The exercise lasted for a week and a half, during which hundreds of mortar shells were simultaneously fired and then reloaded on the minute.
The Artillery’s Pillar of Fire formation has been operational since 1986, but its existence was only made public knowledge a few years ago. As the Tamuz missile is almost never used for live practice, and its incorporation into the exercise is a rare occurrence.