Sayeret Matkal - General Staff Reconnaissance Unit 269:
Sayeret Matkal, also known as General Staff Reconnaissance Unit 269, is the unit most people are referring to when discussing the Israeli war against terrorism. Operatives from this unit have led, or been an instrumental part of, almost every notable counter-terrorist (and anti-terrorist) operation conducted on behalf of Israel from 1957 to the present. It is also the primary unit dedicated to hostage rescue missions within Israel. Sayeret Matkal has been assisted on occasion by other Israeli units such as the elite Sayeret Tzanhanim, Flotilla 13, and Sayeret Golani. During periods of war, this unit is tasked with the most risky intelligence gathering operations, a function it has reportedly accomplished successfully on numerous occasions.
Operations of note include the following:
Operation Isotope - On May 8-9, 1972, Sayerot commandos disguised themselves as Lod Airport maintenance personnel before storming a Sebena Belgian Airlines jetliner that had been hijacked by Black September terrorists. Operation Crate 3 - In June of 1972, concern was mounting over the fate of three Israeli airmen who had been taken captured by Syrian authorities. The decision was made that in order to be in a position to negotiate their release, Israel would need bargaining chips of their own. In response, Sayeret operatives, in an operation that has become their trademark, kidnapped five Syrian intelligence officers who were conducting a border tour with Palestinian terrorists at the time.
Operation Spring of Youth - On the night of April 9-10, 1973, Sayeret commandos, one disguised as a woman, conducted the assassinations of Black September leaders. What was remarkable about this operation was that the targets were in three separate locations and all in West Beirut, which was at the time enemy-held territory.
Worth mentioning also are press reports that operatives from this unit were responsible for the assassination of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) deputy commander and wanted terrorist, Abu Jihad in 1988.
Duvdevan (cherry) is an elite special forces unit within the Israel Defense Forces, directly subordinate to the West Bank Division. Duvdevan are particularly noted for conducting undercover operations against militants in urban areas. During these operations, Duvdevan soldiers typically drive modified civilian vehicles and wear Arab civilian clothes as a disguise.
Duvdevan is one of the most prestigious units of the IDF, and thus recruitment to it is highly desirable among recruitment-aged youths in Israel.
The Duvdevan unit motto: "For by clever deception thou shalt wage war." (Proverbs 24:6)
The unit is actually recognized with only a unit identity number and Duvdevan is simply the nickname given to the unit. The commando units of the IDF are known as the katzefet, or "whipped cream" in English, of the combat forces. In the unit's short 20 year history it has stood above and beyond the traditional special units of the IDF and was thus nicknamed "Duvdevan," or "cherry" in English, in reference to its elite status even among the other special units of the IDF. The unit is unique in several ways: it is the only IDF unit (not including police units) that has no war time mission, just day-to-day hit and run operations. The unit, unlike other SF units, can operate in more than one place at once, and can operate independently. This means providing its own intelligence, backup, rescue, medical teams, extraction, snipers, demolitions, etc... The unit can perform high-risk arrests, raids, targeted killing, kidnappings and a range of other urban warfare operations.
The unit falls under the command of the Judea and Samaria division (West Bank Division) of the IDF. This means the unit is under an area command, not a manpower or brigade command like most other Israeli Army units. This allows the unit to operate anywhere in the country and nowhere specific, unlike other special units that are attached to brigades, like Egoz to the Golani Brigade, Maglan to the Paratroopers Brigade, or Oketz and Lotar to the Adam army base. Only Duvdevan and Sayeret Matkal are authorized to wear their uniforms without identifying shoulder tabs. The unit is most similar to the Yamam and Yamas-Iosh police units.
The unit underwent some major changes around 2002. They are as follows:
1. The unit's basic training was relocated to the paratrooper's base. It used to be held independently at the Adam base along with Rescue Unit 669 and Oketz. When 2 men died in training the basic training was delegated to the infantry. Basic training is 7 months and is done with the Tzanchanim.
2. Special units within Duvdevan were opened but remained classified.
3. The unit's base was relocated and newly built. It now stands alone and independently – most IDF units have their base within a larger base.
The unit prides itself on being the spearhead of Israeli counter terror operations. In 2002 the unit was awarded as such by the prime minister for having the most significant effect on the war on terror. The Duvdevan unit is regarded as one of the world's most successful counter-terror units. In January 2008, the unit successfully killed a major Islamic Jihad commander in the West Bank.
In April 2008, the unit tracked down and killed Hani Ka’abi after surrounding his house in the Balata neighborhood of Nablus. He headed a terrorist cell belonging to the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, linked to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah. He was the mastermind of a plot to carry out a terrorist attack by slipping a slow-acting poison powder, virtually undetectable, into the food of diners at the “Grill Express” restaurant in Ramat Gan, where he had recruited two Arab kitchen workers as operatives. Hosni Tzalag, Ka’abi’s deputy, and another terrorist were arrested during the operation. The soldiers recovered two rifles, ammunition magazines, and bulletproof vests at the home.
Yamam - SWAT Unit:
The Yamam (?an acronym for Special Central Unit) is the elite civilian counter-terrorism unit in Israel. The Yamam is capable of both hostage-rescue operations and offensive take-over raids against targets in civilian areas. Besides military duties, it also performs SWAT duties and undercover police work.
The Yamam was established in late 1974 after the Ma'alot massacre, where a failed operation by military special forces units resulted in the 21 children being murdered before the hostage takers were killed. Since hostage rescue in friendly territory is different from that in hostile areas, it was decided to establish an elite civilian force, which develops and practices a special CQB (Close Quarters Battles) doctrine for "counter-terrorism" operations in friendly territory and hostage rescue.
The Yamam has carried out many paramilitary operations. Some of the missions known to the public prior to the al-Aqsa Intifada are listed below:
* March 1978, a Yamam force engaged the terrorists who took over a bus in an event known as the "Coastal Road Massacre".
* In March 1988, the Yamam was called into action after a group of three Palestinians hijacked a bus full of women returning from work at the Negev Nuclear Research Center near Dimona, in an incident known as the "Mothers Bus". The Yamam struck, killing all three hijackers, but not managing to prevent three Israeli passengers from being killed.
* September 8th 1992: Yamam snipers shot and killed Eithan more, who killed 4 women in Mental Health clinic in Jerusalem.
* May 3rd, 1994: Yamam snipers shot and killed armed man in Uzi Meshoolam's compound after he shot on a police helicopter.
* On 3 March 2000, the Yamam captured an armed group hidden in the Israeli-Arab town of Tayibe with the aid of Sayeret Duvdevan and an IDF Caterpillar D9 bulldozer. In the end of the raid, one man was arrested and four were killed.
During the Second Intifada, under the Shin Bet's command, Yamam forces intercepted many terrorists, either by arresting them or killing them. Several high profile terrorists were killed by Yamam operators. Often, when the wanted Palestinian militants barricaded inside a building, Yamam force put a siege on it while IDF Caterpillar D9 armored bulldozers forced them out by razing the structure.
The unit is primarily responsible for civilian hostage rescue within Israel's borders, but from about the mid-1990s it has also been used for tasks such as arresting police suspects who have barricaded themselves in structures and requiring specialized extraction methods, as well as in personal security for VIPs and in counter-terror operations within the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Yamam are schooled in basic Arabic and dress to assimilate within the Arab population to avoid detection in order to carry out raids to arrest those suspected of conducting terrorist activities within Israel.
However, most of the Yamam's activity is classified, and published Yamam operations are often credited to other units.
Yamas - Mistaravim:
Mistaravim, lit. Arabized, is the name given to those counter-terrorism units of the Israel Defense Forces in which soldiers are specifically trained to disguise themselves as Arabs in order to kill or capture a wanted terrorist. These are also commonly known as the 'Arab Platoons'. In Tom Clancy's Op-Center: Acts of War, it is stated that Mistaravim do not allow their real identities to become known to people outside their unit, and that even when they are undercover, they go to great lengths to avoid being recorded. They are also said to be trained in counter-detection of human or mechanical surveillance.
Training for this unit is about fifteen months:
* Four months basic infantry training in the Mitkan Adam army base - the IDF Special Training Center.
* Two and a half months of advanced infantry training in the same base.
* Two months unit's basic training, which focus on advanced urban navigation exercises and the beginning of CT training.
* Four months Mistaravim course, which covers everything from learning the Arabs' traditions, language and their way of thought to civilian camouflage (hair dying, contact lenses, Arabs' clothing).
* One-month courses - sniper, driving and different instructors courses.
669 - Airborne combat search & rescue:
669, Airborne Rescue And Evacuation Unit 669 is the Israel Defense Forces heliborne medevac extraction unit, subordinate to the Special Air Forces Command of the Israeli Air Force. It is considered one of the IDF's premier elite units.
Unit 669 was founded in 1974, in the aftermath of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, when an ad-hoc medevac unit made some 5000 extractions. Its initial mandate was to extract and provide initial medical treatment to downed (and possibly injured) pilots beyond enemy lines. However, in later years the unit also participated in extraction of soldiers of other arms of the Israeli Defense Forces, especially Sayeret (Special Forces) fighters in operations beyond enemy lines and seamen in distress.
Due to the possibility of having to fight their way to casualties beyond enemy lines, unit soldiers are highly trained in special forces tactics and become highly efficient ground soldiers in addition to their high level of paramedic training. Typically, their training and selection lasts 18 months. Courses that candidates must pass include:
* Combat medics' course
* Parachuting course in the IDF Parachuting School
* Scuba Diving course
* Counter-terrorism course in the IDF Counter-Terror Warfare School
* Rappelling course
* Rescue under harsh conditions
* Commanders' course
Upon completion of their training, unit soldiers are expected to sign on for an extra 16 months of service following their three-year mandatory service.
Unit 5101, better known as Shaldag, is primarily tasked with targeting enemy structures and vehicles for assault by Israeli fighting aircraft. Using their high-energy laser designators, they can mark targets for fighter-bomber launched laser-guided bombs or Hellfire missiles from Israeli AH-64 helicopters.
Many times this involves long range patrols to the target sites. Because of this Shaldag is also sometimes used for reconnaissance. They also provide assistance and operate in Counter Terrorism and hostage rescue operations.
They are staged out of Palmahaim Air base; the unit comprises 40-50 soldiers, with five to six teams of eight to nine operators. They are regularly outfitted with M-16 or M4A1 assault rifles with the M203 grenade launcher attached. When performing Counter-Terrorist/hostage rescue duties they carry the Sig-Sauer or Glock 9mm series pistols and the Mauser SR 82/66 sniper rifle.
Members of Shaldag are considered elite, and go through a rigorous selection and training phase musch like members of other Israeli units such as Sayeret Matkal and Sayeret Tzanhanim. Their training consists oflong marches, basic and advanced land navigation, and coordination and radio communications with Israeli Air Force and Army pilots. It is reported that these soldiers go through a minimum of 1 year and 8 months of training before they are considered operationally ready.
Members of Shaldag were able to prove their worth in the 1996 Lebannon action by finding and designating mobile rocket launchers for destruction. These launchers had been used in unguided terror attacks along the Lebannon-Israeli border.
Shayetet 13 - Flotilla 13:
Within the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) Navy exists an elite unite of commandos known as the Bat Men. Their official name is Shayetet 13, or Flotilla 13, and they are responsible for the IDF Navy's Special Warfare capabilities. Flotilla 13 can trace it's roots back to the birth of the Israeli nation, and in their service they have managed to carve an international reputation as one of the best, if not most experienced, naval special warfare units in the world.
Israel's Naval Commandos under go a rigorous selection phase like most other elite units. In the case of the Naval Commandos, however, the initial selection phase stresses psychological toughness and tests hopefulls in their ability to take and operate under stress and fear. There is not a big push to weed out those unfit for the unit quickly, the training process is long and hard, with plenty of time for those who don't quite match up to move on to other units. In all, a potential Shayetet 13 operator will have to undergo almost a year and 8 months or training before he can pin on the coveted crest of the unit.
After the selection phase, trainee's attend the IDF's Bislach (infantry school) for two-and-a-half months of advanced infantry training. Following completion of this school, they next are sent to a 3 week HALO HAHO school to learn the foundation of parachute ops. Following this school the trainees are asigned to Atlit Naval Base to complete their training, receiving their underwater and counter-terrorism training at this point.
As with other special forces units, the training and selection is arduous, but Shayetet 13's training phase is considered to be the most difficult in the entire IDF.
The Oketz Unit, lit. sting, is the independent canine special forces (sayeret) unit, founded in 1939 as part of the Haganah, within the Israel Defense Forces. The unit specialises in training and handling dogs for military applications. Originally, Oketz trained dogs to attack kidnappers, but training has become more specialized, and now the canine unit. Each dog is now trained to have a particular speciality. Attack dogs are trained to operate in urban areas, as well as in rural, bushy areas (they were used extensively in Lebanon). Dogs are trained as tracking and chasing dogs, for manhunts and detecting breaches at the borders. Dogs are also trained as weapons and ammunition dogs, to search for guns and munitions, as explosive dogs, to sniff out hidden explosives and as search and rescue dogs, to find people in collapsed buildings.
Oketz operators are often assigned to other units in the case of a particular need for their specialist skills, such as in the extraction of terrorists from fortified buildings. Though not affiliated with the IDF Paratroopers Brigade, Unit Oketz operators wear the same distinctive red berets and the unit's graduation ceremony is held at the Paratroopers headquarters. However, in order to join Oketz, the recruit must choose Kfir Infantry Brigade as first priority in the request form and then pass through trials.
Oketz prefers Belgian Shepherd Dog (Malinois), over the German Shepherd Dog and Rottweiler, which were employed formerly. The reasons for the choice are twofold: they're the perfect size to be picked up by their handler while still being able to attack an enemy, and their coats are short and general neutral to fair in color, making them less prone to heatstroke.
Egoz Reconnaissance Unit:
The Egoz Reconnaissance Unit is an elite special forces unit of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) that specializes in guerrilla and anti-guerrilla warfare among other things. The Egoz Battalion is part of the Northern Command's Golani Brigade.
Before the year 2000, Egoz operated mainly in Israel's Northern Command, combating threats from the Hezbollah. Following Israel's withdrawal from Southern Lebanon, its operations were moved to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In 2003 and 2004, Egoz prevented more terrorist acts than any other IDF unit. The unit still does some reconnaissance in southern Lebanon.
The Egoz Unit was founded in 1956 as a special forces unit (sayeret), but was disbanded and re-organized in 1964 due to a friendly fire incident. After the Six-Day War, it became a battalion. It was disbanded again following the Yom Kippur War due to manpower shortages in other units, and re-formed in 1995 as an anti-guerrilla unit (company). Most of the initial fighters came from the Shimshon Unit. Its commander was from the Navy Commandos and as a result, much of the discipline, tactics and professionalism come from the Navy Commandos, and are the foundations upon which the unit was built on.
The training of an Egoz unit begins with basic training, advanced exercises, and unit marches, after which each soldier is interviewed by Israeli intelligence to determine if he should be screened out from the second phase of training. The second phase consists of learning camouflage warfare, various kinds of assaults, land navigation, completing the squad leaders course, jeep driving course, counter-terrorism course, parachute course, reconnaissance course and the alpine course – if there is snow in the Hermon area- among other courses that are highly classified.
When operating in Lebanon, the unit uses unmarked cartridges, as well as the Russian-made RPD and PK light machine guns. Soldiers using the M16 standard issue weapon have the Litton Akila night vision system mounted on it.
Sayeret Tzanhanin is a commando force roughly analogous to the United States Army's Rangers. They are capable of airborne operations, and have conducted many long range patrols into Lebanon since the Lebanon War.
Sayeret Tzanhanin's most public mission was the raid on the Entebbe Airport in Uganda. In that action they assisted Sayeret Mat'kal in the liberation of 103 Israeli and Jewish hostages being held there. Sayeret Tzanhanin was responsible for preventing the Ugandan Army from posing as a threat to the operation as well as placing beacons that allowed the Israeli C-130s to take off from the pitch dark runways.
During Operation Law and Order, Sayeret Tzanhanin neutralized the Shi'ite Hizbollah terrorist presence in the strategically located town of Maidun. During the urban battle that saw RPGs, .50 caliber machine guns, and LAW rockets used at point blank range, over 50 terrorists were killed. Two Sayeret Tzanhanin officers and one NCO were killed, dozens of others were wounded.
During the Gibush, a three day long training and testing period, potential recruits are rigorously monitored as they are taken to the limits of their physical and mental stamina. Only the strongest survive. Out of a hundred candidates, only a few dozen will be allowed to progress beyond the Gibush. One of the final events in their training is the Masa'a Kumta, or Beret March. During this exercise Tzanhanin candidates endure a 90km forced march (roughly 50 miles) with full gear (this can include anti tank missile launching units) over rough terrain.
Sayeret Tzanhanin commandos are trained in the use of numerous weapons. Assault rifles such as the M-16, AK-47, and Galil 5.56mm are familiar to its members; as are the FN-MAG and a IMI modified M-14 sniper rifle. Grenades, mortars, LAW rockets, and RPGs are also part of their arsenal.
Also known as Unit 212 or Sayeret Maglan is an Israeli Special Forces unit which specializes in operating behind enemy lines and deep in enemy territory using advanced technologies and weaponry.
The unit's name is derived from the Ibis bird (In Hebrew: Maglan).
The IDF keeps the unit's designated missions a secret and gives no information about it or the operations in which the Unit takes part. Maglan only became publicly known in 2006. Very little is known about the unit, only that the force performs arrests and assassination of high value persons and that the unit specializes in camouflage and stealth operations behind enemy lines, deep within hostile territory. Like Sayeret Matkal, although the troops in the unit wear a red beret and brown combat boots and conduct basic training at one of the paratroopers' bases, they are not part of the Paratroopers. Maglan has a 25 months training program, and many of the cadets drop out due to the harsh nature of the program. Similarly to Sayeret Matkal, Maglan answers to the IDF's General Staff and not to one of its regional commands.
Maglan is a relatively new unit. It is rumored that it was deployed on SCUD hunting missions in Iraq during the First Gulf War in 1991.
During the Second Lebanon War, the unit took part in many operations and achieved great success. During Operation Beach-Boys, the unit operated along the western coastal strip of Lebanon and destroyed 250 targets, among them 40 rocket launchers.
Yahalom is a special elite combat engineering unit of the Israeli Engineering Corps of the Israel Defense Forces. The name "Yahalom" (Diamond in Hebrew) is an abbreviation of "Special Operations Engineering Unit".
Combat Engineering Unit for Special Operations - Yahalom
Sayeret Yahalom specializes in special engineering missions which include:
* Commando and Counter-Terrorism missions.
* Accurate demolitions and planting of pinpoint explosives.
* Defusing bombs, landmines and unexploded ordnance (Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD)).
* Maritime sabotage and obstacles breaching.
* Searching and destroying smuggling tunnels.
* Developing advanced methods and tools for demolitions and EOD.
* Teaching and training engineering corps soldiers and other Special Units in demolitions and EOD.
Sayeret Yahalom is a classified unit and almost none of its special activities are exposed to the public. When its activities are published, they are usually just credited to a "combat engineering force"; a term which can just as well be used to describe regular Engineering sappers, IDF Caterpillar D9 operators and infantry engineering companies.
Jane's Defence Weekly has claimed that Sayeret Yahalom are working closely with Sayeret Matkal and Shayetet 13, by providing them with demolition, explosive and sabotage skills.
___The top 3___
These are the most elite IDF sayeret units. As such they perform the most important missions of the IDF, usually of a strategic nature. Its soldiers undergo longer training regimes than other sayeret units and are also proficient in long range solo navigation (as opposed to other units where long range navigation is done with a minimum of 2 fighters).
* Sayeret Matkal - the IDF principal special operations/commando unit, used mainly to obtain strategic intelligence behind enemy lines, counter-terrorism, and to perform hostage-rescue missions outside of Israel's borders.
* Shayetet 13 - the naval commando unit. Also in charge of maritime hostage-rescue missions. Part of the Israeli Navy, its selection and training is considered the most arduous of the entire IDF, due to its maritime role.
* Shaldag Unit - the Israeli Air Force commando unit, it specializes in forward air control and target designation for the Air Force.