Monday, July 21, 2008

Hativat Golani Brigade Attracts Israeli Youth

Formed during the early years of Israel's existence as a defensive unit to protect Israel's Northern border with Lebanon and Syria, the Hativat Golani Brigade resulted from the combination of two older fighting units, the Lebanon and Carmeli brigades, to form what is now considered as one of the country's top infantry units.

Since its formation in February, 1948, the Hativat Golani has seen action in every major war involving Israel, as well as numerous smaller military actions, especially those against terrorist infiltrations and special operations in the West Bank.

Known by their brown berets and olive tree arm patches, Hativat Golani is one of the most decorated combat units and is often likened to such foreign military combat units as the U.S. 1st Calvary Brigade and the British SAS. Also known as the "Farmer's Brigade" with their brown berets denoting their attachment to the soil, Golani fighting units have some of the toughest training programs of any modern military organization in the world today.

The Golani Brigade is divided into four infantry battalions, including a special reconnaissance battalion, "The Egos" and a special unit battalion that includes anti-tank and engineering companies. The Sayeret Golani, the brigades most elite unit, is the one that pulled off the Entebbe Operation in July, 1976.

Golani units have seen intense military action on Israel's border with Lebanon, especially during the 1982 Operation Peace for Galilee campaign, and countless border skirmishes with the Hezbollah in Lebanon. More recent combat activities involving Golani Brigade soldiers include operations in the West Bank, and the 2006 war in Lebanon.

Young Israeli youth are particularly attracted to signing up for this unit, and many Golani Brigade soldiers have hailed from kibbutzim and moshavim (agricultural settlements).

Golani Brigade soldiers are known for their high military camaraderie; for this reason many young Israeli youth are willing to undergo the brigade's intense training program, in which many do not pass. Israel's current Army Chief of Staff, Major General Gabi Ashkenazi, an agricultural moshav member, was Hativat Golani Brigade's Commander from 1986 to 88.

Golani Brigade badges and insignia, including Golani Warrior, Palsar Golani Sayeret badges and "Olive Tree" arm patches are highly prized among military insignia collectors the world over. This is particularly true for the Golani Recon Sayeret Battalion, whose members are often compared with the elite American Army "Rangers" combat unit. - Headlines