A Palestinian rides a donkey near Jericho in the southern part of the Jordan Valley January 1, 2014..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The army has initiated the creation of a new Jordan Valley battalion, a senior commander announced on Thursday.
Col. Ofir Livius said the Lions of Jordan Battalion light infantry unit will be fully operational by mid- 2016, and made up of male and female combat soldiers, each making up about half of the fighters.
Asked by The Jerusalem Post
if the establishment of the unit represents an expectation of instability from this traditionally peaceful eastern border, Livius stressed that at present the Jordanian border is quiet and stable, but that in the future this might change.
“There is stability on the border, and in the Kingdom [of Jordan] to my understanding. At the same time, we can’t hide the complexities that the Kingdom of Jordan is facing, with threats to its north and south. The IDF has to be ready. This does not mean there is any security change. We must prepare for potential changes,” he said.
Additionally, criminal and terrorist infiltrations aimed at smuggling narcotics and weapons remain a potential hazard, requiring robust defenses and cooperation with Jordan.
“There is a joint interest by Israel and Jordan to keep the area stable,” the officer said.
The first draft cycle for the battalion will begin in August, and all of its companies should be trained by 2016, he said.
“This will guard our eastern border, while boosting our operational capability in surrounding areas of Judea and Samaria as well,” said Livius.
The battalion is set to become an expert at operating in the harsh desert environment of the Jordan Valley, an area that is currently not particularly well-known to one specific unit.
The battalion will become proficient in camouflage and field intelligence collection, the commander said, declaring the Jordan Valley to be “the biggest undeclared nature reserve in the country.”
Soldiers will undergo basic training at the Paratroop Brigade training base, before specializing in desert border security. They will also learn how to pursue and quickly respond to terrorist infiltrations.
By the time the battalion is operational, it may work alongside a newly built electronic security fence along the eastern border.