Kfir leave their standard deployment in Judea and Samaria and head south to one of the nation’s hottest borders for the first time since Operation Cast Lead
Flares illuminate the simulated urban city hidden in the dunes near Tze’elim as mortar rounds and tank shells punctuate the night: welcome to the nighttime exercise of the Carob Battalion. Hundreds of soldiers spent the day in the desert participating in the culminating exercise of the battalion’s training for the upcoming deployment in Gaza, one of Israel’s hottest borders. The Kfir Brigade, known for their professionalism in combating terrorism in Judea and Samaria, now aim to prove their versatility in areas farther south.
“We are entering the area with the most taxing security challenges in the county,” stated Kfir Brigade Commander Col. Udi Ben-Moha. “We anticipate a very important challenge for the brigade, and our preparations- including this exercise- demonstrate the readiness of the battalion and its capability to operate in difficult conditions against the enemy.” Within the brigade, there is both a familiarity with the terrain, and “a will to succeed.” Col. Ben-Moha explained that the battalion is a strong one with a long heritage and consists of high-quality people. One testament to the brigade’s success is the plan to transform the Carob Battalion into the brigade’s first commando unit within the next few years. This week’s training and preparation was capped with a battalion-wide exercise. Commanders led the soldiers through a rigorous exercise that began in the evening and ended late the next morning. The exercise drilled attacking rocket launching sites and conquering enemy targets, with half the forces simulating enemy combatants. After a seven-kilometer hike through the sand, the soldiers participated in an attack on rocket launch sites within a dense urban area. Afterwards, the soldiers continued their long hike towards an open field where they participated in a live-fire exercise with the soldiers from the Armored Corps and Engineering Corps. The exercise concluded with a demonstration of various heavy weapons for the Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Yoav Tzukron.
The brigade underwent many intensive preparations for their future deployments, developing a deep understanding of the area surrounding Gaza. “Looking forward to our upcoming deployment in Gaza, we spent a lot of time mentally a physically preparing our soldiers. There is a strong sense of the mission within the battalion, and the burden of proof is on us. The Carob Battalion and the Kfir Brigade received a unique opportunity and now we must prove our abilities,” said Deputy Battalion Commander Maj. Itai Zigdon.
The Carob Battalion’s deputy commander is assured of the unit’s success in their new deployment. In addition to the extensive preparation, the unit is not entirely unfamiliar with the terrain, which was first encountered when the Kfir Brigade participated in Operation Cast Lead. “We learned a lot in Judea and Samaria and now we will bring our professionalism and knowledge with us and help foster a deep operational readiness,” said Maj. Zigdon. “We approach every challenge from a place of learning and a desire to understand and our progress is very rapid. In the seven years since the Brigade’s inception, we have taken more and more deployments in the north and south.”
The Kfir Brigade was founded 7 years ago with its operations primarily focused within Judea and Samaria. Only last year, the Brigade began replacing deployed battalions in the north and south, bringing this knowledge experience to Gaza. “The Brigade specializes in urban warfare and trains extensively throughout the year. However, the unit is also seeing action much of the time and has become an expert in combating terrorism and hostile actions,” said the Brigade Commander. “We are engaged, and will deal with terrorism wherever it occurs- whether in the north or south. We will do whatever it takes, wherever we are needed. Our commanders have enormous motivation, a vast knowledge and are very adaptable, able to adjust to new areas very quickly.
Col. Ben-Moha stressed, “there is no doubt that we will become a maneuvering battalion in the future, we are already there. Our training is conducted in collaboration with the various corps; we train like every other infantry battalion. Significant steps have been made within the Battalion.
The requirements we have set for our commanders and soldiers put us on part with all other combat units- there is no difference. Soldiers and commanders now live in the reality of an integrated maneuvering combat unit.”