Whether on the border with Gaza, inside Lebanon, or thousands of kilometers from
Israel, any IDF unit operating in enemy territory needs to stay in constant
touch with the rest of the military, and the Amirim (Hebrew for treetops)
Battalion enables them to do just that.
The Jerusalem Post was given
special access to the battalion, which is the pride of the IDF’s C4i
(Teleprocessing) Branch, at its headquarters in the Tzrifin base in central
Israel on Wednesday.
The Amirim Battalion is a part of the Hoshen (Hebrew
for breastplate) IDF Communications center, which runs all of the military’s
Battalion commander Lt.- Col. Omer (last name
withheld) discussed some of his unit’s core missions, within the limitations of
what he could share.
“This is a General Staff-level battalion, which
provides communication services at the strategic and tactical levels,” Omer
This means that the unit answers the communication needs for a
range of IDF units, from battalions to divisions, all the way up to regional
commands and military brass.
The Amirim Battalion can go into action in
all arenas, anywhere, he added.
“We have unique systems that don’t exist
in any other communications battalion,” Omer said.
He divided the
battalion’s abilities into two categories, conventional and
Conventional roles include using technology for
transmitting information over a wide radio bandwidth (known as ultra wideband),
and running encrypted military cellphone networks, such as the IDF’s flagship
Rose Mountains network.
“In the less conventional field, we deal in
satellite communications. We’re responsible for satellite reception
stations, known as terminals, which are mobile,” he explained.
put, this means that one company in the battalion will accompany IDF forces
engaged in an operation or ground offensive outside of the country’s borders,
and link them up to their command levels back in Israel.
This enables the
IDF’s General Staff to maintain command and control capabilities
“This is a tactical tool which we can set up at any point on
the globe. As soon as the skies are accessible, we can send transmissions that
carry operational systems, anywhere and anytime,” he said.
battalion is relevant for all sectors, equally,” he said.
The nature of
the battalion’s work means that it touches on many sensitive, mission-related
tasks. “But it’s not a classified unit,” Omer stressed, adding, “We work with
civilian communications companies.”
The battalion is made up of three
companies, the first of which is called the the Strategic Communications
This is the unit responsible for mobile satellite communications
on various bandwidths.
“Its role is to provide a transmission pipeline
from any place and allow the passage of [operational] information, such as the
Mesua [Hebrew for Torch] command and control system of the Ground Forces,” Omer
explained. The company can also serve the air force and navy.
there’s a unit involved in a ground operation. As a digital army, this
unit’s commander needs access to command and control systems. The company
will travel into the battle zone and link the relevant unit to a satellite in
stationary orbit, which will beam its signal back to a ground reception station
in Israel. This company must be able to operate its advanced equipment
under fire, in the middle of a battle zone," he added.
IDF communication centers are hit by missiles, the Strategic Communications
Company “knows how to act as a back-up,” he added.
A second company in
the battalion focuses on radio communications, and a third runs the ground
The battalion has access to a range of vehicles with
large antenna and satellite transmitters.
One example is the Links
vehicle, a satellite-terminal truck, and a second vehicle acts like a mobile
cellphone network, extending the army’s cellphone coverage to any area where
soldiers are operating.
The Amirim Battalion is a part of the IDF’s
Hoshen communications center, which is currently leading a technological
revolution in the military designed to transform it into a network-centered
Hoshen houses two additional battalions, and has its own
in-house electronic engineering school for recruits, who are selected by the
time they’re in high school.
“Our recruits are quality people, who study
here for two years,” said Maj. Moran (last name withheld), of the Hoshen center.
“We prepare them for their roles as crossborder satellite communications
officers. The training involves bringing them out into the field for three to
four days and having them set up the equipment from scratch,” she added. “It
prepares them for the mission and gives them a feeling of what it’s like to
carry it out.”
The cadets sign on for an additional year of service, due
to their prolonged and costly training.
Senior Warrant Officer Kobi (last
name withheld), also of Hoshen, said the soldiers of the Amirim Battalion are
trained to be flexible, and to avoid falling into a dogmatic pattern of
“Everything you hear and read about [involving IDF operations]
is tied in to us,” said Kobi. “We’re involved in every operational event.”