This week, the Helicopter, UAV, Transport and Reconnaissance squadrons all took part in the first Brigade-Wide Exercise of the new Commando Brigade. “The commando forces are the main forces which will be flown and helicoptered in warfare”

Talya Yariv, Eilon Tohar & Vered Talala | Translation: Ohad Zeltzer Zubida

A first in IDF history – A brigade-wide training exercise was held this week for the newly established Commando Brigade, which is only a few months old and consists of four of the IDF’s spec-ops units: “Maglan” (Ibis) “Duvdevan” (Cherry) “Egoz” (Nut) and “Rimon” (Pomegranate).
IAF helicopters, UAVs and reconnaissance aircraft also took part in the comprehensive exercise. Despite the cold weather, the spec-ops unit combatants trained for some of the largest helicopter transported operations that have been seen in brigade-wide exercises in the past years.
“Because of the brigade’s importance and missions, all of the squadrons were happy to take part”, explained Maj. Adi, IAF representative in the “Fire” battalion, which commands the brigade.

The “Fire” battalion specializes in spec-ops assisted by helicopters, UAVs and reconnaissance aircraft.
“Because it is a newly established brigade which is only taking shape, there is much room for flexibility and creation of cooperative work – which will influence the next campaign. Exactly for this reason, it was important for the whole UAV division to take part in the exercise”, shared Lt. Daniel, from a UAV Squadron. “The combatants need to be alert and to know every detail and piece of information in their area”.

The First Commando Brigade Training Exercise

Photo by: IDF Spokesperson Unit

The Focus of the Exercise: Helicopter Division Assistance

The brigade-wide exercise confronted the brigade with its complex missions. In accordance with its missions, the IAF assisted with helicopter transported missions, evacuation of injured combatants and combat helicopter fire support.
“The commando forces are the main forces which will be flown and helicoptered in warfare”, explains Maj. Hagay, Head of The Land Training Exercises Department in the Cooperation Unit. “Therefore, the focus in the exercise was on the helicopter division and specifically the transport helicopter squadrons. All of the transport helicopter squadrons took part in the exercise and practiced operative transportation of forces from helicopter pads to different points in the exercise area”.

The First Commando Brigade Training Exercise

Photo by: IDF Spokesperson Unit

Observing from Above
The nature of the commando brigade’s activity is to be able to be everywhere at all times and operate in enemy territory for long periods of time. This nature requires widespread intelligence evaluation. The IAF’s Intelligence Division is required to supply the brigade with preliminary and relevant intelligence data and is also present above the forces in the field and supplies them with real-time information.
“The exercise contributes to our cooperation with the brigade and to the understanding of our relative advantage to assist the mission the best we can”, explained Maj. Daniel, Deputy Commander of the “First” Squadron, which operates the “Beechcraft King Air” reconnaissance aircraft.
“The brigade executes operations which require a large amount of intelligence data, so we brief the forces ahead of time. Thereby, helping them notice threats during activity in real time”.

The UAV Division is prepared for every arena and executes daily reconnaissance activity and is considered a close aide to infantry forces which escorts them from above and maintains routine communication n with them.
“We contribute to the brigade forces in intelligence and in the understanding of what is happening in the field, before they land with the assistance of transport helicopters and disperse to their designated points. We update them when the mission begins”, describes Lt. Daniel. “From that moment, we are responsible for checking the area for threats which may cross paths with the force, assist forces in direction of fire and when necessary, assign additional forces for aerial assistance. For us, the main challenge is creating mutual language and it is important for us that the brigade will be aware of our abilities, so that in the next war we will know how to work together in the best way possible”.

The First Commando Brigade Training Exercise

Photo by: IDF Spokesperson Unit