Imagine standing at the door of a plane, thousands of feet in the air, and preparing yourself to jump out. That’s what soldiers from the Paratrooper’s Brigade went through this week during a parachuting exercise in the south of Israel.
During a briefing to combat soldiers prior to the exercise, Brigade Commander Col. Eliezer Toledano said that “every paratrooper preparing to leap from a plane must overcome fear. It’s natural to feel fear, but paratroopers leave fear behind them. We are the only ones who are tested in the face of fear — even during training.”
These soldiers are ready at all times, Col. Toledano said. “The Paratroopers don’t need lengthy preparations to strike a very large array of forces behind enemy lines.”
Col. Toledano stressed that the importance of the exercise is that “we proved that at any given moment the IDF (Zahal) can take a large amount of soldiers and drop them deep in enemy territory in a matter of moments… we have the ability go anywhere we say we will go.”
Jumping out of the aeroplane is only the first part – more important is what happens when you land. “There’s a risk that you will you will be cut off from the Brigade and won’t find your friends on the ground,” said Deputy Brigade Commander Lt. Col. Itamar Ben-Haim. “It’s possible that you will end up fighting with soldiers who are not from your platoon, so we educate commanders in spatial understanding and in taking initiative.”
The Brigade applied lessons they had learned from last year’s exercise, reaching a new safety standard and making sure that their soldiers can fight effectively after landing.The severity of injuries decreased in this year’s exercise in relation to last year’s.
The Paratroopers land with all the equipment they need to operate in the battlefield, including heavy vehicles that allow for continuous and sustained operations in enemy territory after landing.
Participating soldiers told us that the exercise was a unique experience. “The best part of an exercise like this,” said First Sgt. Hadar Ben Simon of the Reconnaissance Battalion, “is the contrast between the noise of the aircraft before you jump, and the quiet after the parachute opens.”
The parachuting exercise is just beginning of an intense series of exercises that the Paratroopers will undergo in the coming months.