Negligent Training Results in IDF Death

An Israeli Defense Force platoon leader was recently fatally shot when he was working with his soldiers on a training scheme, involving simulating a knife-wielding attacker. Unfortunately for the platoon commander, Lieutenant David Golovenchick, one of his soldiers did exactly as he was supposed to and promptly shot his PL with his service rifle which lead to wounds that proved to be fatal. From the Haaretz news source

Golovenchik was exercising how to respond to a terrorist attack with two of his soldiers, it transpired in the inquiry. He then wanted to repeat the exercise and told the soldiers he would take part in it, but did not instruct them to unload their weapons as safety regulations require.
Golovenchik took off his protective gear, went to the post and played the part of a Palestinian undergoing a security check by the soldiers. He turned the table at the post over them and simulated a stabbing attack. Apparently one of the soldiers cocked his gun and shot his commander.

This Youtube video appears to be of the incident’s aftermath and was taken by local Palestinians in Hebron right next to the checkpoint.

From a training, firearms, and infantry perspective, there are a number of very important lessons here. The largest and most important one is to be always cognizant of weapons conditions, and ammunition sources, realizing the hazards that happen with safety, blank cartridges, etc… when dealing with training situations meant to be as realistic as possible. We’ve covered this multiple times on TFB, and unfortunately, this will be a recurring theme as long as proper safety constraints aren’t practiced around firearms.

But the much more important lesson, from a military and tactical perspective, is that this training should never have been conducted in the first place. If as the incident is described actually happened, at a checkpoint, in a high-risk environment, then this isn’t the time to be working on contact drills. The time to work on those drills is in the rear, in a secure location, not on the “frontline”. The time to be at the front is to be at the front, not in training.

I am distinctly reminded of a staff NCO in 1/9 who very vividly recounted an experience in the build up for the OIF invasion wherein his battalion had been doing multiple gas attack drills per week. Finally, a week before the invasion, the CO ordered the drills to cease in preparation for the invasion. One of the company commanders wanted to be “extra” prepared and decided to conduct another drill after this order was given. The CO apparently almost relieved him from his command he was so furious. Not so much as disobeying an order, but because the point he was trying to make was, “Training is over, the next time we do this drill, it is going to be for real”.

Which leads me to my third point and not to trample on the dead, but from the news reports we have at hand, it unfortunately, looks like the platoon commander was a young hard charger, who let his zealous appetite for motivation get the best of him. I’ve seen this personally with numerous Marine officers who don’t understand the thin line between pushing a group of infantrymen to the standard expected of them, and pushing them past that standard in an unsafe manner.



Miles

Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.

Please feel free to get in touch with me about something I can add to a post, an error I’ve made, or if you just want to talk guns. I can be reached at miles@tfb.tv


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  • Suppressed

    Will be frequently checking back on this comments section, Israel stories are always good for catfights.

    • Juggernaut

      Ban hammer honey trap

    • neckbone

      Hamas is gonna pay for this.

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    “….was taken by local Palestinians in Hebron right next to the checkpoint…..”

    Well, I can guess whats going to be #1 on tonights episode of “Hamas’ Funniest Home Videos”.

    • PK

      I feel bad for laughing. It was funny, though.

      • TheNotoriousIUD

        Im already going to hell for a bunch of other stuff anyway.

  • 22winmag

    Firearms not training accidents.

    • BeGe1

      The promise is not to get political so that people from both ends of the spectrum can enjoy the content (a good idea if we want people on both sides to be able to learn about firearms).

      Otherwise, if it’s firearms related then it’s fair game.

      There is nothing political about this, and it is firearms related.

      Deal with it.

    • some other joe

      …with firearms.

    • This is a military training accident that completely revolved around firearms. If this were about hand grenades, I wouldn’t have posted it.

      • Ranger Rick

        If it had been hand grenades involved there would probably be more casualties.

    • Jai S.

      This is a story about firearm training safety. It happens to be in a military setting.

      TFB has a simple premise: Anything firearms, but no politics. Clearly this is apart of that.

    • Klaus Von Schmitto

      Do you ever have any actually substantive comment to add? I didn’t think so. What kind of articles do you think this space should be limited to? Just gun reviews? I think you’re looking for a different blog.

  • KestrelBike

    Can we get a story about over-zealous Marine commanders??

    • Well, this one time, my old Battalion Commander thought it was a great idea to shoot HE and illum 60mm rounds handheld, at night, while treating his battalion like cannon fodder through cold weather training, resulting in 7 of my buddies getting blown to bits and another 7 all torn up.

      https://www.stripes.com/news/report-double-loaded-mortar-tube-caused-blast-that-killed-7-marines-1.263279

      • iksnilol

        Damn… did he at least get punished for such negligence?

        • He got relieved, along with the Btn Gunner and the company commander, but he now works for a big bank in the corporate world.

          • wetcorps

            I suppose they do have a use for people with little consideration for human life.

          • This is him-
            https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrew-mcnulty-99733010

            Not a single word of Hawthorne exists on his LinkedIn profile

          • MeaCulpa

            So basically he ended up with a better career, financially at least. There certainly isn’t a lack of injustice in this world.

          • iksnilol

            So basically got away scott free :/

          • QuadGMoto

            Like the soldier who pulled the trigger in this story, there are some punishments that no legal system can hand down, or reduce. If he has any conscience at all, he pays for it every day.

          • iksnilol

            In other words; got away scott free.

          • mtman2

            Belongs in prison…

      • Grey Beard

        My deepest sympathies to you and your buddies families Miles. There is no greater leadership failure than a CO that fails to look out for his or her troops safety and well being as mission one IMHO. Thoughts and prayers to every body involved.

  • QuadGMoto

    Can you imagine being the soldier who acted exactly as he was trained to react? I don’t envy him in the slightest.

    • TheNotoriousIUD

      Id rather be him than the other guy.

      • noob

        That’s always the question isn’t it? To be dead immediately, or to live with an indeterminate amount of life filled with regret? The worst part is that after the fatal mistake is made you don’t get to choose your punishment. Once the die is cast, fate will hand you your lot.

  • B-Sabre

    It’s universal – the most dangerous thing is a junior officer with a bright idea.

    • MeaCulpa

      Minus the “junior” we’re in agreement.

  • Juggernaut

    Tavor fanbois wanna know…

  • Saint Stephen the Obvious

    I saw the title and immediately wondered if Lucien Black aka VODA took a trip to Israel.

    😉

    • Edison Frisbee

      Someone had to say it…..

    • Evan

      You beat me to that one

  • Stan

    Conscripts are just that, no matter the country

    • iksnilol

      I doubt a platoon leader is “just” a conscript.

      Besides, training accidents happen with voluntary forces as well. Like the one Miles mentioned where 7 marines got killed.

      • mig1nc

        True, but the PL wasn’t the one who pulled the trigger. Like Miles said, he should have known his weapon was loaded (they always are).

  • iksnilol

    Honestly, what with all the dangerous/stupid crap that’s advertised as IDF technique, I’m surprised that it took so long for somebody to get killed.

  • Mikial

    I’ve been through the Hebron checkpoint and it, like all of the West Bank checkpoints, is a pretty stressful environment. The Israelis are among the most highly trained and competent troopers on Earth, but carelessness can afflict anyone in any circumstances. All you have to do is lose your focus for an instant. Learn from a good man’s mistake rather than make your own.

    • Ark

      “The Israelis are among the most highly trained and competent troopers on Earth”

      They way they behave in combat gives me reason to doubt that assertion. I wouldn’t put them on par with American, Canadian, or British soldiers when you can go on Youtube and watch their snipers shoot unarmed men, women, and children as they try to drag their wounded family members to safety.

      The IDF may have the technical skill and equipment of a first world army, but they behave like petty, vindictive murders every time they’re turned loose.

      • Chatterbot

        Obvious troll is obvious.

        • Ark

          Hamas pays me four virgins per comment.

      • mtman2

        IF that were the norm as you say it would be available online and I would have seen that in 20yrs.
        It’s not there; but showing mercy to the Arab pawn usurpers is thete in spades…

  • USMC03Vet

    Officers and their bright ideas.

  • Evan

    So VODA has been training the IDF now?

  • Jim_Macklin

    Everybody failed. The dead officer failed to order his squad to unload their weapons but the soldier should have known his gun was loaded. [They always are].
    Before a training scenario everybody should be aware of everybody’s weapon condition, they should not have to wait for an order.
    Call this suicide by stupidity.