IAF commando unit welcomes newest members

New soldiers joined the elite Shaldag unit this week, following nearly two years of intense training

Date: 12/05/2012, 5:24 PM     Author: IAF Website

The Israel Air Force’s Shaldag commando unit welcomed its newest soldiers into the fold this week in a moving ceremony at the summit of Masada. The fighters’ acceptance into the elite unit follows nearly two years of grueling preparation, including paratrooper and counter-terrorism courses and general commando training.

“Today, you are joining the IAF’s family of fighters,” said Commander of the IAF Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, addressing the new graduates. “Wearing the fighter wings of Shaldag represents the completion of a long and arduous course. You were found to be worthy, personally and professionally, to be a part of this special unit. Wearing the wings represents the responsibility that you will carry and our expectations of you as an elite group of fighters.”

Shaldag, considered one of the IDF (Zahal)’s most elite units, was founded after the Yom Kippur War to provide the IAF with operational independence in commando and intelligence matters.

Much of the unit’s history remains classified, containing many operations far from Israel’s borders. In 1991, under the command of current Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, the unit played a central role in Operation Solomon, in which 14,000 Jews from Ethiopia were covertly airlifted to Israel over the course of 34 hours.