For the first time since the ‘Arava’ Desert Division was established in 2011, fighters who guard our border with Jordan headed out to an extended exercise with the aerial assistance forces in facing terrorist attacks. “Even though it’s a peaceful border, we have to be prepared”
This week, the Arava Desert Division, the regional brigade responsible for the desert area in southern Israel, went out for an exercise where they practiced facing terror scenarios alongside aerial assistance units rushed to the scene. During the exercise, which took place for the first time, the forces posed different attack situations aimed toward a scouting unit of the IAF along with higher-intensity scenarios like chasing a car filled with armed men. During the exercise, fighters of the Arava Desert Division received assistance from aerial forces: Combat helicopters conducted a chase after one of the terrorists, cargo helicopters evacuated the wounded and dropped other forces onto the field, and scouting airplanes assisted from above.
Although the southern border of Israel has been peaceful for the past few years, commanders of the Arava Desert Division try to maintain fighters’ abilities and knowledge about aerial assistance which is mostly used around problem-prone areas like the Gaza Strip and Egyptian border. “To this day, this division got to cooperate with the IAF less than other brigades since it’s a quite border”, explains Captain Meir of the cooperation unit. “They mostly face infiltrators and criminal activities, but we still have to be prepared for terroristic attacks as well”.
The Arava Desert Division, which is overseen by the southern 80th formation, was established a year and a half ago after illegal drug activities were uncovered between the Jordanian and Israeli border. The division is responsible for an area of over 200 kilometers between the two borders, which extend across northern Masada until southern Arava. “In comparison with other borders, the Jordanian one has a different topography”, added Captain Meir, “And its proximity to civilian settlements makes it important not to underestimate it”.