Tel Aviv Israel – Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, commanding general of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, led a delegation from the United States to participate in the 27th Future Battlefield Annual Talks, or FBAT, in Israel June 3-7, 2018.
FBAT is TRADOC’s capstone international engagement, which is held each year with the Israel Defense Forces. This important learning event has roots in TRADOC’s earliest interactions with the IDF Ground Forces following the 1973 Yom Kippur War. The study of that war, led by Gen. Donn Starry, contributed to development of the U.S. Army’s AirLand Battle Doctrine and the “Big 5” combat systems. FBAT began as a formal bilateral event in 1998 with the TRADOC commanding general leading the U.S. delegation since 1990.
FBAT is the most significant and comprehensive U.S. Army bilateral engagement with the IDF Ground Forces. Held alternately between locations in the U.S. and Israel, FBAT brings together senior leaders from across TRADOC and their Israeli counterparts to explore a wide range of issues relevant to Army Warfighting Challenges, emerging concepts, capabilities development, science and technology, and research and development..
In addition to the TRADOC commanding general, this year’s U.S. delegation also included Command Sgt. Maj. David Davenport, TRADOC’s command sergeant major; Lt. Gen. Michael Lundy, commanding general of the U.S Army Combined Arms Center; Brig. Gen. Lonnie Hibbard, TRADOC’s deputy chief of staff for G-3/5/7 (Operations, Plans and Training), and Maj. Gen. John George, deputy director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center, who served as the U.S. deputy head of delegation. The delegation also included leadership from the Maneuver, Fires, Sustainment, Maneuver Support, Aviation, Intelligence and Mission Command Centers of Excellence and selected school commandants.
Maj. Gen. Yacov Barak, chief of the IDF Ground Forces, served as host and the Israeli head of delegation.
FBAT XXVII started with two “counterpart days” and finished with a plenary session and cultural event including all delegates. During his “counterpart days,” Townsend traveled to Israel’s borders to both the Gaza Strip and Syria in the Golan Heights. The commander of the 143rd Gaza Division described the increasing subterranean, overland and airborne threats the IDF must counter from Hamas. During the visit, the IDF shared some of their newest technologies for tunnel detection. The next day, Townsend visited the Syrian Border in the Golan Heights. The 210th Division commander provided an updated intelligence briefing highlighting the complexity and new challenges of the Syrian civil war.
Other TRADOC senior leader counterpart days included tailored itineraries with IDF counterparts, where they shared respective approaches and lessons on a wide range of warfighting themes. These engagements provided the opportunity for the representatives of each army to share their perspectives and lessons learned to develop leaders and maintain the edge against adversaries.
The culminating plenary session allowed the IDF and U.S. Army delegates to present a series of briefs with discussion on a wide range of topics. The U.S. delegation covered FM 3-0, Operations; Lessons Learned from the Mosul Study and U.S. Army modernization, while the IDF covered their army modernization program and Lessons Learned from their corps exercise and subterranean operations. Barak also described the significant force generation and organizational improvements underway to increase readiness across their joint force. Townsend reiterated the importance of FBAT to the U.S. Army and how TRADOC greatly values the long-standing partnership with the IDF Ground Forces.
The plenary session ended with Townsend and Barak co-signing a memorandum committing to the next FBAT and the 2018-2019 center of excellence military-to-military agreed-to-actions.
At the conclusion of FBAT Townsend and Barak conducted a wreath-laying ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem.
The U.S. will host the 28th FBAT in 2019. This critical engagement remains a premier learning venue that benefits both the IDF and the U.S. Army. Furthermore, the FBAT continues to demonstrate the long-standing partnership and commitment between the armies.
Pictured above: The Future Battlefield Annual Talks XXVII delegation sits for a photo in Israel during the plenary session phase of the FBAT. The FBAT head of delegation included Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, commanding general of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, and Maj. Gen. Yacov Barak, chief of the Israel Defense Forces Ground Forces (center).