Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Givati Brigade - Israel's Southern Defense Strength

The IDF's Givati Brigade went into action again on Monday in Israel's southern border with Gaza. Often considered to be the equivalent of the Israeli Military's famed Golani Brigade, stationed mostly on Israel's northern borders with Lebanon and Syria, the Givati Brigade is the IDF's elite mechanized infantry brigade whose primary function is to defend Israel's long southern border with both Egypt and the Gaza Strip.

Formed in 1948 during the War of Independence, what became known as the Hativat Givati Brigade has seen combat action in virtually all of Israel's wars with her Arab neighbors. Since the start of the second Palestinian uprising, better known as the "Al Aqsa Intifada" or "the second Intifada" in the year 2000, Givati Brigade forces have been deployed along the borders of the Gaza Strip, and have seen action on numerous occasions against Palestinian insurgents and terrorists who continue to engage in acts of terror against Israeli towns and settlements in the country's southern regions.

Givati Brigade soldiers, distinguished by their special insignia and purple berets, have been decorated time and time again for acts of bravery under fire; including such notable operations as the one in 2004, when Palestinian terrorists used UN vehicles in order to transport fighters and arms for use against Jewish settlers living in Gaza settlements.

The Givati Brigade is divided into three battalions: Shaked, Zabar, and Rotem. They also have special units involved in reconnaissance, amphibious assault operations, and engineering units. One unit in particular, the 846 Shualey Shimshon, or Samson's Foxes, was patterned after the famous British 'Desert Foxes' Battalion that distinguished itself in North Africa during WWII.

Since Israel's disengagement from Gaza in August 2005, Israeli forces, including those of the Givati Brigade, have had to re-enter the Strip on several occasions to either capture or kill terrorists and militia forces suspected of planning and carrying out acts of terror against Israel. Many of these military actions have been in response to continued launchings of home-made "Kassam" rockets, of which more than 4,000 have been launched against Israelis, most notably targeting towns such as Sderot.

Following the kidnapping of IDF Corporal Gilad Schalit in June 2006, Givati Brigade soldiers have been involved in a number of military actions inside Gaza, including Operation Summer Rains, which resulted in over 300 terrorists being killed, and Operation Hot Winter in early 2008.

In the aftermath of several attacks on Israelis involved in transporting fuel and other supplies into Gaza, and the continuous missile barrages, including those of longer range against the city of Ashqelon, the IDF is said to be planning another large scale offensive on the level of Operation Summer Rain. Meanwhile, small Givati units continue to enter the Strip to carry out operations against Hamas and other Palestinian terrorists such as the most recent one on June 16, in which 3 Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists were killed.

The Givati Brigade, like the Golani Brigade in the north, will continue to do its duty to protect Israeli civilians for as long as this is necessary, since no peace has yet been made with groups like Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and others bent on attacking innocent people in Israel. We who live in the Jewish State owe a great deal to these fine young men who constantly put themselves at risk to guard and protect their fellow Israeli citizens.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The IDF Rebuilds Its Military Infrastructure

The Israeli Defense Forces, otherwise known as the IDF, have undergone considerable upgrading since the 2006 war in Lebanon. Following the appointment of former Golani Brigade commander Lt. General Gaby Ashkenazi to IDF Chief of Staff, virtually all branches of Israel's military, especially its ground forces, have undergone a number of changes to prepare for a possible future war with the Hezbollah and possibly Syria as well. Askenzaki is well suited for his new role as he has considerable combat experience and is well acquainted in ground combat fighting, as he was a commander of what many consider to be the IDF's top fighting unit.

Being a field commander, General Ashkenazi is much more suited to head the IDF than his predecessor, Dan Halutz, who formerly headed the Israeli Air Force before his appointment to be C.O.S., by then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2005. One of General Ashkenazi's major tasks has been to improve the morale in IDF military units, especially among reserve soldiers, considered to be the backbone of the country's military. Gross logistical failures during what is now called the Lebanon II War, resulted in many reserve soldiers saying that they would refuse to fight in a new conflict unless considerable changes were made to enable them to have the required equipment and training needed to face an enemy that has grown much stronger and is better equipped than in previous years.

For security reasons, a number of these revisions have not been disclosed to the general public. One of main problems that many IDF officers have had is in regards to the type of warfare known as asymmetric warfare that is now being fought not only by Israel against its enemies but by other armies such as the American-led coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Russian forces in provinces such as Chechnya. In asymmetric warfare, different ideologies and the will to fight often results in a lesser equipped enemy having an advantage over a stronger, better equipped army.

Besides Israel's ground forces, including the highly acclaimed Givati brigade, the armor corps in which the Ga'ash Formation is the largest armor group, and special units such as the Egoz special operations unit, the IDF is also upgrading the Naval Forces and Air Forces.

Speaking at a recent officer's school graduation ceremony at Mitzpeh Ramon, both General Ashkenzi and Defense Minister Ehud Barak (a former C.O.S. himself) warned that the IDF must be ready to face the threat of possible regional conflict that could break out at any time, especially following the assassination of Hezbollah's top terror strategist Imad Monighyeh in March 2008, and in light of Hezbollah's recent political gains in the Lebanese parliament.

Throughout Israel's 60 years as an independent country, its army has had to make constant upgrades in its ability to meet the challenges facing the Jewish State in light of constantly changing realities. Only in this way can a small country such as Israel meet the challenges of facing its enemies and prevailing against them.

JPost.com - Headlines