Thousands of combat soldiers, commanders and support troops from the Israel Defense Forces conducted this week in Cyprus a mass simulation of fighting in Lebanon.
The exercise, part of the Israeli military’s month-long “Chariots of Fire” maneuver, is meant to simulate military activity in enemy territory, particularly on Israel’s northern front. It will end on Friday.
The simulation in the Cypriot city of Paphos includes the largest number of troops sent abroad for operational practice to date, according to the IDF.
The exercise began in Israel, where combat units were told to arrive at a number of air force and navy bases prepared with equipment and vehicles for combat. When the signal was given, thousands of soldiers from the commando and paratroopers brigades, as well as other special forces and elite reserve units, boarded ships planes and helicopters en route to Paphos.
The island nation of Cyprus has mountainous areas along its Mediterranean coast, similar to what Israeli forces could face in Lebanon. The exercise focused on improving soldiers’ skills for continuous fighting deep in enemy territory, and a range of important war skills such as communications and logistics, the military said.
The commander of the Israel Navy’s Haifa base, Brig. Gen. Tal Politis, said the force has many advantages that will aid in a large-scale operation, including firing missiles from sea to help ground forces and assess the situation on the ground in various weather conditions.
“The navy’s capabilities are among the best in the world in covering and evacuating wounded by sea,” he added.
As part of the exercise, helicopter Squadron 113 was deployed in Cyprus, with Black Hawk and combat helicopters. The pilots practiced new ways to collecting and parachute equipment to troops on the ground.
Cyprus is an ally of Israel and the countries conduct a great number of cooperative ventures in many arenas. In the past, the two countries have held a number of joint military and security activities on land and at sea.