January 9, 2017 by hotminnie
The cadets’ response to Sunday’s vehicular attack in Jerusalem exposed a professional failure in military training that has nothing to do with Elor Azaria’s faulty conduct in Hebron.
It was clear that someone would rush to link Elor Azaria’s verdict to the cadets’ response to the vehicular attack that took place in Jerusalem on Sunday. This is an artificial attempt to provoke the army from the wrong angle. Sunday’s incident exposed a professional failure that has nothing to do with Azaria’s faulty conduct.
What was exposed on Sunday was a chronic disease that every chief of staff passes on to his successor: The military training given to soldiers serving in the home front as part of a basic officers course meant for soldiers in vocational positions in the army. This course does not produce combat soldiers or combat platoon commanders.
Being a combat soldier requires long, specialized training. Not every person who wears a uniform, and even officer ranks, is a combat soldier. There is a reason for the harsh dispute in the army over who deserves the title of combat soldier. Are the cyber people, for example, combat soldiers? The answer is absolutely not. Several weeks ago, on the other hand, the IDF dismissed an Armor Corps officer who had witnessed the stabbing of a policeman and policewoman in Jerusalem and fled the scene of the attack. The army can have claims against such an officer, because it trained him to be a combat soldier.
The natural, human instinct when a truck drives towards you at full speed is to escape. The difference between an ordinary citizen who flees and seeks shelter and a skilled combat soldiers lies in the practice that teaches the combat soldier to overcome the instinct and deal with the threat. The panic that was exposed on camera Sunday is the result of lack of practice, which characterizes the training given to home front soldiers, including in the officers’ school.
The combat soldier’s training is aimed at creating an automatic response to threats. He learns how he should act when the threat is close, when it’s far, when he must fight back immediately, and when to use the famous field training in those seconds when the enemy surprises you and you keep a low profile, study the danger, and only then fight back.
The group of cadets that was caught by surprise by the truck acted in the most natural way and moved out of the danger zone as fast as possible. The citizen who stormed the terrorist did what is expected of a combat soldier: He implemented his field training, came to his senses, understood the danger and fired. The others have not internalized this practice. They are familiar with it, but no one thought they would need it during their military service, so they didn’t practice it in a way that would become a second nature to them.
Moreover, it was a group of soldiers in a situation that entailed no alertness, just a field trip. Some 15 to 20 buses with school children park in that place every day when the weather is nice. The United Nations’ center in the Middle East is located several meters away from there. The UN does not disregard threats, and the facility is heavily fortified from every direction.
Several months ago, on the other hand, the Israel Police reduced their presence in a fortified compound at the entrance to the neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber, where both regular police and Border Guard officers were stationed. The police cars driving to and from the facility, and the regular police presence in the area, served as a deterring factor that provided a certain amount of protection to thousands of people visiting the East Talpiot promenade and the nearby Goldman promenade. What is left the area are mainly security cameras that play a part in the documentation, but are incapable of deterring or stopping a suicide bomber.
Ironically, the Tolerance Monument installed by the Jerusalem Municipality is located about 200 meters from the scene of the attack. How ridiculous. There is neither tolerance nor unity in Jerusalem. And if anyone is searching for a possible motive for an attack, several hundred meters away, in the place that used to house the Allenby Camp, the American administration has purchased land on which the American Embassy will allegedly be built – a hot topic on the Palestinian street, which could serve as a reason to renew the wave of terror attacks.