The IDF has completed a large scale three-day training exercise in Cyprus. Described by military officials as “unprecedented,” the exercise was the largest of its kind ever held. In total, approximately 500 Israeli army commandos and 200 Israel Air Force personnel were involved.
The exercise was intended to simulate the conditions in territory that Israeli forces would potentially operate in. The mountains and hills in the area of Cyprus where the exercise was held are very similar to areas of Lebanon. Air Force squadron commander Lt. Col. Gilad told Israeli journalists, “For our pilots, the training very much simulates the operational territory. Cyprus is a very, very mountainous country with peaks that reach the height of Mt. Hermon [in the Golan Heights], an area that is not very populated and without spelling out too much, is comparable to our operational areas.”
A senior IDF brigade commander said the soldiers rehearsed military operations in abandoned villages and military bases, and conducted combat training in open areas and built-up locations and at sites that simulated tunnels.
The exercise also showcased for the first time the “Oz” commando brigade, which consists of elite units such as Duvdevan, Maglan and Egoz . They were joined by a fleet of Black Hawk helicopters, Skylark UAVs, reconnaissance aircraft with intelligence-gathering and communications equipment, and special canine units.
Six months ago, the IDF’s Maglan unit took part in a smaller exercise on the Greek island of Crete and has in the past carried out other training overseas.
In related news, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades signed joint statements in Thessaloniki to expand areas of trilateral cooperation. In his statement, Netanyahu emphasised the “many similarities of culture and values that come to bear” in the relations between the three countries and promised to promote plans for an ambitious Mediterranean undersea natural gas pipeline project. This was the third trilateral summit that the leaders have held in the last two years.
[Photo: BICOM ]