IDF members exposed to live chemical agent

An Israel Defense Forces group of officers that specialize in non-conventional warfare took on a first-of-its-kind training session in the United States that included exposure to a live chemical agent while wearing protective gear.

The officers, who are members of the IDF's Home Front Command, were sent into a room filled with a deadly nerve gas during one of their drills while wearing protection gear, Xinhau reports.

The IDF has sent multiple groups of officers to take on similar training at the U.S. facility in the last two years, including simulations of attacks with chemical warheads. While the Israeli army often participates in wargames scenarios, they do not have the facilities in Israel to train with genuinely toxic agents.

After training with the actual weapons, Home Front sources believe the soldiers come back "changed individuals, with a heightened sense of self-confidence," the Home Front report said, according to Xinhua, "They better understand the nature of the threat, how to deal with it, and saw that the equipment they're issued with really does protect them."

The Home Front Command plans to equip 20 percent of Israeli citizens with personal protective kits that come with atropine auto-injectors against nerve agents and gas masks in 2011. In addition, the country plans to finish the development of a system known as the Deer Horn system that will warn citizens of an imminent missile attack.