Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Countering the Hezbollah Threat: IDF’s Underground Rescue Tactics
In any future conflict with Hezbollah, the terrorist organization will attempt to cause the maximum amount of human casualties it can on the Israeli side. To counter this threat, the IDF Medical Corps is upgrading its operations, finding new and creative methods for providing medical care to wounded soldiers.
Comprehensive emergency medical care for wounded soldiers is crucial in any combat situation. It is especially important on Israel’s northern border, where Israel faces the Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah.
“The role of the IDF Medical Corps is to care for and evacuate the wounded,” says Brig. Gen. Itai Virov, the IDF’s officer in charge of the Infantry and Paratroopers. “Medical care personnel are there to strengthen the resolve of our fighters by providing a very high level of care. Moreover, their job is to assist the commander, taking part of the burden of care off his shoulders to give him space to deal with combat matters.”
“In order for us to raise the the level of competency in the IDF’s medical system, advanced training is very important. The enemy is changing,” says IDF Chief Medical Officer, Brig. Gen. Itzik Kreis. The IDF’s medical forces have always been crucial during combat, but in light of the latest developments in the way Hezbollah operates, they are becoming even more important.
According to current intelligence, Hezbollah has adopted a tactic called a ‘multitude of casualties’ – which holds that the Israeli public will not be able to absorb a high tally of victims during a future conflict. The terrorist organization will focus, therefore, on causing as much harm to human life as possible.
Hezbollah has many ways of maximizing casualties – using more precise and far-reaching rockets, creating a barrage of gunfire several times more intense than in the past, and bringing central and southern Israel into the conflict directly for the first time.
Considering these threats as a whole, the tremendous importance of the IDF’s ability to treat a wounded soldier efficiently and quickly becomes clear. Ensuring these capabilities requires a strong infrastructure and highly-trained doctors and paramedics, who are familiar with the operational situation on the Israel-Lebanon border.
Since the Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah has moved much of its operations into underground tunnels. In response, the IDF Northern Command Medical Corps have taken it upon themselves to find an efficient method for extracting the wounded from deep underground. “We do not expect that the doctor will enter the tunnel to treat the wounded with all of his equipment. That would make no sense, and could compromise the doctor’s safety unnecessarily,” says Col. Tarif Badr, Northern Command Chief Medical Officer. “On the other hand, we must find a safe extraction method that is also suitable for heavy bleeding or fractures.”
To meet this challenge, the Northern Command has adopted methods from the CRR (climbing, rappelling, rescue) section of the IDF’s counterterrorism unit. The device created to rescue wounded soldiers underground includes a board which sets the wounded soldier’s injured spinal cord, and ropes and pulleys that one can leave at a moment’s notice if combat restarts. “We’re looking at the possibility of acquiring all such measures across the IDF, says Col. Badr.
In the event of a future conflict, IDF forces maneuvering in Lebanon are likely to find themselves in densely wooded areas that are difficult to walk through, let alone evacuate the wounded from during combat. “We have chosen two methods [to deal with this] – the first is one soldier carrying another using his weapon strap [to secure the wounded soldier], which leaves the hands free for fighting,” the IDF Medical Corps’ head of training, Maj. Saaba Saaba, explains. “The second method is to simply use a canvas stretcher.”
A regular stretcher would be less effective in this situation, “because it is carried at shoulder height, and therefore the bodies of those carrying the stretcher cannot protect the wounded from branches and thorns,” the Chief Medical Officer explains.
Thanks to the IDF Medical Corps’ preparations today, the IDF is ready to face any threat from Hezbollah in the future.