TEL AVIV (Jun. 16)
Three days of army exercises, described as the largest ever held in Israel, ended today with a huge parade of thousands of dust-covered troops before Prime Minister Levi Eshkol in Beersheba.
Commanders of the exercises said they had demonstrated again the ability of Israel’s soldiers, the quality of leadership judgments and the effectiveness of maintenance operations. It was reported that despite the difficult sandy terrain over which the simulated attacks were staged, only two tanks had to be abandoned while the armored forces were piercing”enemy” territory in long-range thrusts.
Premier Eshkol told the troops that “the reputation of the Israel Army as an excellent deterrent force is widespread .” In an apparent reference to his talks with United States officials in Washington during his recent visit, he said: “I found it necessary to comment against appraisals made without our being given the equipment necessary to foster our security. I even express fear that exaggerated praise to Israel’s Army is used to justify the meager aid to Israel.”
He brought greetings from Israeli soldiers training in the United States to operate the supersonic ground-to-air Hawk missiles the United States is selling to Israel. He expressed thanks to the United States for enabling Israel to “acquire these expensive arms which will tester our deterrent force. ” He warned, however, that neither Hawks nor any other missile would be of any value unless Israel maintained its alertness and preparedness.
“We appreciate guarantees and promises for help if Israel is endangered,” he told the troops,”but I explained that Israel’s security can rest only on its own strength; it is its own strong military power that will deter any adventures.” He thanked all participants–regular and reserve units–who took part in the successful exercises.
In the coordinated maneuvers, the Air Force provided close support for the armored units as they ran into and overcame points of resistance. Paratroops were dropped deep behind “enemy lines” to bar “reinforcements. ” Self-propelled guns also were used in the huge maneuvers, laying down barrages of fire.