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Israeli troops get plasma screens

According to the Israeli military, all combat units will be equipped with the Digital Army Program by the end of 2010. But for the time being, it is being issued to battalion commanders and later on to company commanders.
by Staff Writers
Tel Aviv, Israel (UPI) Sep 22, 2009
The Israeli military has launched a program to provide combat units with portable digital maps of their operational areas and a three-dimensional picture of the battlefield.

The move is a consequence of the withering criticism that the military came under following its failure to crush Hezbollah during a 34-day war in July and August 2006.

Commanders were particularly criticized for watching the action on their digital screens in their commander bunkers rather than leading their men in the field.

One of the main criticisms by a government-appointed commission of inquiry was that units in the field were badly led and poorly trained for combat, and all too often were not aware of their tactical situation.

But, The Jerusalem Post reported Sept. 18, "the Ground Forces Command and Division 36 of the Northern Command wrapped up a five-day exercise that brought the plasma and the commanders out to the field ... for the first time."

Division 36 is the Ga'ash Armored Division deployed on the Golan Heights, captured from Syria in the 1967 war. The exercise was premised on a conflict with Syria, the main Arab ally of Iran.

The fighting in 2006 did not involve Syria, although Israel claimed it was providing Hezbollah with rockets and other weapons.

The ground fighting in that conflict, known in Israel as the Second Lebanon War, mostly occurred in the badlands of South Lebanon, where highly mobile Hezbollah forces fought from a well-prepared, elaborate system of bunkers and fortified positions.

The Israeli army was not sent into the region, a Hezbollah stronghold, until halfway through the conflict, and ran into fierce resistance from Hezbollah units across the region that prevented a general advance despite the Israelis' superiority in numbers and firepower.

The introduction of the digital displays to combat units came amid renewed tension on Israel's northern border with Lebanon and concerns that renewed conflict is likely.

According to the Israeli military, all combat units will be equipped with the Digital Army Program by the end of 2010. But for the time being, it is being issued to battalion commanders and later on to company commanders.

"The DAP provides commanders with a clear view of the battlefield and brings them all of the available data so they can be more effective when making decisions," said Col. Gil Moaz, DAP project manager in the Ground Forces Command.

The new system is also designed to prevent friendly fire incidents, in which Israeli forces mistakenly fire on their own men.

The Jerusalem Post reported that experimental versions of the digital system were tested in combat during Operation Cast Lead, when Israeli forces invaded the Gaza Strip in a 22-day operation in December and January.

The system was credited with preventing "at least two friendly fire incidents," the newspaper reported.

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