There is no shortage of challenges when it comes to being the IDF (Zahal)’s eyes in the field. The soldiers of the Field Intelligence Corps are the first to raise alarm about unusual incidents in their sector; they must be aware of any minor change in the field and think of where the next attack may come from. Therefore, they must undergo meticulous training that ensures they are prepared for the challenges they will face.
Despite advances in technology, there is no replacement for human eyes. The soldiers of the Field Intelligence Corps, commonly known as “The Eyes of the Nation”, specialize in finding terrorist units or suspicious individuals, and identifying targets and abnormal behavior. Throughout their training, the soldiers perform many exercises in which they develop these abilities.
“During their basic training, the soldiers learn survival skills, camouflage techniques, fighting methods and how to work as a team,” explained Second Lt. Tom Ganor, a platoon commander in the Field Intelligence course. “When they move on to their advanced training, they learn about the equipment we use and how we do our job. Most importantly, they train. They learn how to deal with the pressure of the job.”
Last month, the soldiers from the most recent Field Intelligence course simulated a situation in which terrorists attacked a main road in Judea and Samaria, killing and injuring many Israeli civilians. “The soldiers learn how to operate in every area in Israel, but in this specific exercise we are focusing on Judea and Samaria,” explained Lt. Chen Dror, the deputy commander of one of the course divisions. “The perpetrators of the attack managed to escape, but were tracked to a village. The soldiers have to observe the village, find the suspects, and find incriminating evidence against the person suspected of planning the attack.”
There are various methods of collecting information, and different teams use different methods. Some rely on vehicles for surveillance, others use intelligence gathering balloons and some, including the female combat soldiers, carry their equipment and build observation posts in the field. In the exercise, each group of soldiers is charged with watching a different area. This way, the soldiers have eyes all around the “village.”
Twelve hours after the exercise began, the soldiers are tired, but they have successfully collected the intel they need. They have found the perpetrators of the attack, uncovered an additional terrorist cell that was operating in the area, collected incriminating evidence against the person who planned the attack and ultimately, prevented future attacks.
Women in the Field Intelligence Corps
The first team of female combat soldiers joined the Field Intelligence Corps in 2007. “The female company was established as a result of a wave of terror attacks that took place near the Egyptian border in 2005. There was an understanding that a larger force that could collect information was required,” said Sgt. Tzlil Podolitz, a commander in the Field Intelligence course. “Israel’s border with Egypt is rather quiet, but there are infiltrators who try to enter Israel and sometimes there is terrorist activity in the area.”
The only Field Intelligence soldiers in the southern region that operate on foot is a company of female soldiers. “I chose to become a combat soldier specifically in the Field Intelligence Corps because it seemed like a job that combined both physical activity and smarts,” said Sgt. Podolitz. “I was right.”