This week the Paratrooper Brigade held a large exercise, the highlight of which was an airdrop of hundreds of paratroopers. The brigade parachuted from IAF C-130 Hercules planes, just as they would at the moment of truth. “Our commanders, the State of Israel, and also our enemies are all watching us.”
During the week, hundreds of paratroopers were airdropped at the landing ground in Revivim in southern Israel as part of a big exercise the Red Brigade held. “The IDF benefits from this important operational ability of being able to mobilize a large number of soldiers to a distant point with equipment over a period of time and carry out any mission”, said Commander of the Paratrooper Brigade, Colonel Eliezer Toldano. “Our commanders, the State of Israel, and also our enemies are all watching us.”
Throughout the 65 years of the IDF existence, it has made use of parachuting combat forces into enemy territory has only once – above the Mitla Pass in Egypt during the Sinai Campaign of 1956. Nonetheless, the ability to parachute remains important for the IDF, which keeps training its soldiers in this important operational ability. “I don’t know if we will be asked to do this tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, but I want to know that when we are asked to do this, we will be able to do it, with the discretion and seriousness that is expected of us”, explained Eliezer Toldano.
The C-130 Hercules Division of the IAF took part in the exercise, and carried the paratroopers from the combat brigade, paratroopers along side senior officers. Upon being given the signal, the combat soldiers jumped, one after the other, from a height of 400 meter above the ground. “Airdropping the soldiers is not a complicated mission, but it is a mission that involves people, so it has to be approached with seriousness and strict attention to detail”, explained Lieutenant Colonel Y’, commander of the “Elephant” squadron. “We are flying at a safe height above the terrain and we cannot allow the operational elements to keep us from safely airdropping the paratroopers”.
The ability to airdrop is a central ability for the C-130 Hercules Division and the Paratrooper Brigade, and so they are both asked to bridge the everyday gaps, when they are approached to carry out a mission like this, in training and in fighting. The Cooperation Unit, which takes part in every event that requires combining IDF forces and which makes sure that missions are carried out effectively and safely for both bodies, is responsible for bridge the gaps between the IAF and the Red Brigade.”There is direct dialogue between the brigade and the IAF which rely on a common plan between the C-130 Hercules Division and the commanders of the brigade”, explained Lieutenant Colonel A’, which is responsible for the coordination between the 98th Paratroopers Division, to which the Paratroopers Unit is subordinate , and the IAF. “It’s hard because these are different forces and it requires a well thought out plan and attention to detail”.