IDF goes commando with formation of new elite brigade
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IDF goes commando with formation of new elite brigade

Military chief Gadi Eizenkot unifies specialized units like Egoz and Duvdevan in bid to increase efficiency

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Col. David Zini speaks during a ceremony marking the creation of the new Commando Brigade in Ein Harod on December 27, 2015. (Yahav Trudler/IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
Col. David Zini speaks during a ceremony marking the creation of the new Commando Brigade in Ein Harod on December 27, 2015. (Yahav Trudler/IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

Israel’s top soldiers will have a new place to call home, and a new commander, with the opening of the IDF’s new Commando Brigade on Sunday.

The ceremony for the new brigade, which brings together the army’s various elite units, marked another step in the adoption of the streamlining, efficiency-centered “Gidon Plan” for the IDF, proposed by Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot earlier this year.

The new brigade, officially known as Brigade Oz, will be under the command of Col. David Zini, a veteran of the famed Sayeret Matkal special forces unit, and will be part of Central Command’s 98th Division.

By combining some of the army’s most specialized units — Egoz, Rimon, Maglan and Duvdevan — which are currently scattered throughout the IDF, Eisenkot will be able to do away with redundancies and ultimately strengthen the individual units, whose services will surely be needed soon, he said during the ceremony.

“You don’t need to be an especially clever strategist to understand the sensitivity of the current time period,” Eisenkot said. “We saw the threats last night from the leaders of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, the wave of escalation we’re dealing with in the West Bank and the threats from down south.”

The new unit insignia for the Commando Brigade -- a knife on a background of mountains with a two-sided arrow signifying the unit's overseas reach -- is unveiled in a ceremony on December 27, 2015. (Yahav Trudler/IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
The new unit insignia for the Commando Brigade — a knife on a background of mountains with a two-sided arrow signifying the unit’s overseas reach — is unveiled in a ceremony on December 27, 2015. (Yahav Trudler/IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

Soldiers in the new brigade will sport a red beret and a newly designed unit insignia — a knife on a background of mountains with a two-sided arrow signifying the unit’s reach beyond Israel’s borders.

The ceremony for the new brigade took place near Ein Harod in northern Israel. According to Jewish tradition, this was the location where the biblical judge Gideon chose the men who would serve in his army.

Both Zini and the commander of the 98th Division, Uri Gordin, noted the historical significance of the locale during their speeches. “This was the first place where people volunteered for a Jewish army in history,” Gordin said.

Zini added that both then and now “a small, coordinated force” was able to turn the tide in battle.

Col. David Zini and Brig. Gen. Uri Gordin receive the symbol of the IDF's newly formed Commando Brigade during a ceremony marking the unit's creation on December 27, 2015. (Yahav Trudler/IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
Col. David Zini and Brig. Gen. Uri Gordin receive the symbol of the IDF’s newly formed Commando Brigade during a ceremony marking the unit’s creation on December 27, 2015. (Yahav Trudler/IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

“The IDF still sees commandos as a central tool in its arsenal — in both war-time and in the day-to-day,” Gordin said.

This focus on the army’s special forces enjoyed special mention in “IDF Strategy,” an unclassified excerpt of a larger document published this fall that laid out Eisenkot’s vision for the military.

With the new Commando Brigade, the IDF will be better able to “carry out the seemingly simple but very complicated mission of defending the State of Israel,” Eisenkot said.

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