Efficiency Or Loss Of Identity And Motivation? The IDF Ground Force Command Is Unifying And Standardizing Its Commando Unit Training

It is time to say goodbye to the unique nature of the famed reconnaissance platoons of the IDF infantry brigades as they start training together in a soon to be built dedicated facility

IDF commando takes aim during training in the Galilee
Copyright: https://www.flickr.com/people/45644610@N03 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

When I was a soldier in the IDF, an endless topic of discussion was which of IDF’s fabled commando units had the hardest training and the most daring exploits. Sayeret Matkal, the general staff reconnaissance unit was usually on top, but right behind it were the reconnaissance units of the major infantry brigades: the Paratroopers and Golani, as well as other, less well-known units that are deployed to hunt down tanks and collect intelligence across enemy lines.

In what appears to be the next step in a process of standardization and unification of the Israeli ground forces, Major General Yoel Strik, commanding officer of the IDF Ground Forces Command, has ordered that all special forces under his command undergo training in one centralized facility. The move does not include special forces belonging to other branches of the service, such as the Navy and the Air Force and it does not affect the previously instituted commando brigade, which already has its own training facility.

The move comes on the heels of the decision to create in each infantry division a reconnaissance battalion, comprising of a reconnaissance platoon as the unit first facing the enemy, followed by an anti-tank platoon and a combat engineering platoon. According to the newly issued order, all of these units from all infantry brigades will undergo specialized training at the planned new facility.

The senior commander’s decision has drawn fire from many quarters in the retired officers’ community. Most of the criticism focused on the benefits that allegedly derive from the unique identity and traditions in each of the infantry brigades, traditions that are further emphasized and honed during the elite training that their separate reconnaissance units have hitherto received.

It appears though that with the reduced probability of an all out war against massed enemy forces and the increased necessity of winning small and medium size engagements against highly motivated and well-trained quasi-guerilla fighters such as those of the Hezbollah, standardization of all IDF elite ground forces is a necessity that is only strengthened by the need operate within reduced budgets and obtain efficiency via synergetic consolidation.

Still, one may be forgiven for indulging in nostalgia when reflecting upon the storied past of the various IDF reconnaissance units with all their uniqueness and hard-won competitiveness not only when it came to the enemy, but even when it came to each other.

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