IDF Paratroopers – What it Takes
Part 1 of a 3-part series
The IDF Paratrooper’s red berets set them apart from many other fighting units in Israel’s armed forces. But if you know a little about these tough young fighters and the elite brigade they belong to, you begin to appreciate how dominant a part they have played in making Israel the secure country it is today. And that has been no small accomplishment.
Instead of dwelling on the demanding conditions that accompany them through the gruesome eight months of their training, let’s start at the challenging exercise that caps their training, their 90 km. (51.1 mile)”Masa Kumta” (beret march) which they are required to complete. This is an all-night march in full gear in whatever weather conditions prevail which marks the end of their training and admission into the coveted paratroopers brigade. The march ends with a ceremony at which they receive the coveted red berets that they will wear with great pride for the rest of their military service.
The march starts in the evening with great enthusiasm, camaraderie, and a touch of excitement. Within a couple of hours they start feeling the strains of fatigue and for many, exhaustion. By daybreak, still hours from their destination, they feel the aches and pains in every bone and muscle. And they push on, one step after the other. As they make their way along the final stretch along the ascent to Jerusalem, those that are starting to wonder if they will make it are helped by their friends who, in hallowed IDF tradition, won’t leave any man behind.
Within sight of their final destination, the soldiers stop as their commanders call for an exercise break – as if all they needed now was a set of 100 pushups in full battle gear – to use up any reserve energy that might have survived the march.
But their moment of glory is about to arrive. Standing in formation, after eight exhausting months of training and a night spent marching and running, they have finally earned the right to wear their red berets!
However the red beret is merely a symbol as it distinguishes these soldiers from other combat units. The IDF paratroopers are recognized and respected for the discipline, courage, initiative, dedication, traits that have kept them at the forefront of Israel’s infantry.
Much of their training is devoted to overcoming minefields and obstacles, to engage in combat either alone or integrated with forces from other combat units. They move into battle either by helicopter, dropped behind enemy lines, or landing from the sea. They fight from jeeps and other vehicles.
|Image courtesy of the IDF|