IDF paratroopers teach US marines ‘lost art’ of tunnel combat


Israeli paratroopers and US marines completed a series of exercises over the past week and a half aimed at sharing techniques and knowledge on beach-landings and aspects of urban warfare, as part of the joint Juniper Cobra exercise, officers said.

For the Americans — specifically the US Marine Corps’ 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment — it meant learning how to fight in tunnels, something marines haven’t had to do since the Vietnam War, said battalion commander Lt. Col. Marcuz Mainz.

“It’s a lost art for us,” he said.

For the Israelis — the Paratroopers’ Brigade’s Reconnaissance Battalion — it meant seeing how the marines use light armored vehicles in combat, according to Lt. Ron Semel, the battalion’s training officer.

“We had lieutenants and sergeants out there training each other, training each other’s soldiers seamlessly. An IDF sergeant would grab a marine and tell him, ‘No, look in that direction. Do that.’ And vice versa,” the lieutenant colonel said.

According to Semel, the joint exercise also presented an opportunity for introspection.

“A visitor sees every flaw. We had someone coming from outside, seeing us work, and then can figure out every issue that we have in our technique and help us strive for perfection,” he said.

The Marines officer said this was his unit’s largest exercise since about 2010.

The American battalion arrived to Israel’s Palmachim beach, south of Tel Aviv, on hovercrafts last week. The American soldiers brought with them light armored vehicles, artillery cannons, transport helicopters, and V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, a type of helicopter-airplane hybrid that Israel has long expressed an interest in purchasing.

“The Marines brought their armored vehicles and artillery. We brought our knowledge of how to fight in underground tunnels,” Semel said.

The first week of the joint exercise focused on beach landings, while this week will focus on desert warfare and urban combat, the officers said.

The urban combat training will include a session on tunnel warfare on Tuesday night and Wednesday, Semel said.

Read More: Times of Israel