FORT BENNING, Ga. (May 8, 2013) -- The Maneuver Center of Excellence, in support of the partnership between the United States and Israel, played host to a delegation from the Israeli Defense Force April 28 through May 1.

The visit was part of the Agreed-To-Actions, which are developed by senior-level leaders from the IDF and TRADOC, and intended to promote the exchange of ideas on training, Soldier and leader development, transforming armed forces while at war and how to apply lessons learned during current operations.

Col. Tal Braun, the head of the IDF's Doctrine and Training Department of the combat collection corps and a 24-year IDF member, said the visit helps both the U.S. and Israel to improve operations across the respective armies.

"The purpose of the visit is mainly to learn from each other," Braun said. "We cooperate and we learn from each other's experiences in the battlefield and training. We came here to share knowledge and experience to make things better for both sides."

Lt. Col. Jonathan Due, chief of the commander's initiative group at the MCoE, said the main goal of MCoE leadership during the visit was simply to listen to the ideas the IDF has to offer.
In particular, the MCoE is interested in sharing lessons learned by both armies in recent conflicts, Due said.

"What this allows us to do, as we look to apply our own lessons learned, is to widen our aperture on what the nature of armed conflict is right now and what the problem of future armed conflict might look like in the near future," Due said. "Most importantly, it provides an opportunity to solicit feedback from a similar institution that is dealing with similar problems. As we listen to that feedback, we are looking to improve our own means of training Soldiers, developing leaders and evaluating organizational and material solutions to the problem of future armed conflict."

The visit also helps to continue to foster positive relationships between the U.S. and Israel, something Due said not only has historical value, but also value for the future.

"Relationships are going to be absolutely critical in the development of specific capabilities, and as we look abroad, we're going to have to think not only in terms of ourselves and our enemy, but ourselves, the enemy, and a complex environment that's going to be filled with many actors including partners.

"It's going to be filled with other nations and other perspectives. If we're able to meet around a table here at Fort Benning with some key participants within that environment, it's going to help us … in terms of how we train … in how we think about war and ultimately … in terms of how our maneuver forces operate."

Braun said the two nations are natural allies because of many cultural similarities.

"I feel like we share a lot between not just our armies, but our nations," he said. "Like you, we are a democracy that tries to live in peace with its neighbors, and we share a lot of the same values."

During the visit, the IDF delegation viewed a number of training exercises, including training simulators at Clarke Simulation Center.

Braun said simulators will play an important role for both countries going forward, but should not become the primary source of training.

"That's the next generation of training," Braun said. "It's happening here, and we're going to that phase as well. We have simulators in each corps in order to supervise the training better and to help make Soldiers more professional before and after the terrain exercises. I have to say that simulators are not to replace actual drills in actual terrain for commanders, officers and soldiers.
There is nothing like feeling the dirt, to crawl and to sweat in the field, so simulators are good for technique, but fighting is still in the battlefield."

In addition to the simulation training, the IDF group also viewed training conducted as part of both the Infantry and Armor Basic Officer Leadership Courses.

"Primarily, one of their key interests is how we conduct multi-echelon training," Due said. "As a result, we're showing them how we integrate different echelons into simultaneous training events. At the same time, we're having an ongoing series of discussions about our doctrinal revisions, our capabilities developments, as well as two different sessions that share our lessons learned from recent armed conflict and the IDF's lessons learned from recent armed conflicts."

Braun said he is looking forward to taking the experiences and information the IDF received back to Israel and attempting to improve the IDF's operations.

"I would like to thank the U.S. for sharing the information and experience with us," he said. "These are strategic relationships between our two nations. We are taking a step forward to make the future better for our nations and our citizens. All of us need to share and be cooperative in order to make it happen."