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.