Israeli tanks during an exercise near the northern border on February 22, 2018..
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S OFFICE)
After years of being the most unwanted corps in the IDF, the number of new recruits choosing to join the Armored Corps has increased significantly, its head, Brig.-Gen. Guy Hasson, has announced.
According to Hasson, 460 new recruits requested the Armored Corps as their first priority in the coming August draft, an increase of 330 recruits from the previous year.
In addition, 83% of the recruits stated that they wanted to join the corps when asked on enlistment day in March 2018. Hasson said that this is an increase from 70% in November 2017 and from 54% in November 2016.
“When you have people who want something, you have a better and stronger corps,” he said, adding that despite the progress “we are not taking our foot off the gas.”
Hasson credits the recent success to two years of work promoting the corps through various activities done before the actual recruitment, such as sending combat soldiers to schools to meet with students and sharing operational activity by the corps on social media platforms.
Other moves include reaching out to parents and a personal phone call to every new recruit who is asked if he would like to meet with an officer who just three years earlier was in the same situation. Hasson also credits the increased popularity of the corps by sharing the activity of the tank brigades, which have been extremely active on all of Israel’s borders – especially along the border fence with the Gaza Strip.
“When an incident occurs on the border, troops want a tank there,” said one senior officer in the Armored Corps.
According to Hasson, tanks have destroyed 30 Hamas targets since January, up from 14 in 2017 and 15 in 2016. The Armored Corps has also confirmed killing 12 Gazans and injuring 10 since January 2018, a significant jump from 1 death and 2 injuries in the two previous years.
“The Armored Corps is not only for large-scale offensives but protecting our borders on a daily basis,” Hasson said, adding,“Getting to the place of the incident, engaging the enemy, and finishing the job quickly and effectively is critical.
The Armored Corps had in recent years become one of the least popular units for new IDF recruits as they are said to have the worst service conditions and have fewer weekends off than other corps. Most new recruits request to serve in the border police or intelligence and cyberwarfare units.
“Some people would rather be in jail than be at [the Armored Corps base in] Shizafon,” Hasson pointed out.
Last November, 86 out of 200 soldiers assigned to the armored corps refused to board the buses to their bases after induction. Half were sent to the detention facility at the induction center and the other half were sent to various military prisons after receiving jail terms ranging from four to 20 days for refusing to obey orders.
With regional developments changing significantly in the past few years, the IDF is fighting an increasing number of unconventional wars and facing new enemy tactics. To face those threats, the Armored Corps will soon have a new cutting-edge Merkava-4 Barak, a tank capable of winning a decisive victory on the ground.
“Israel has an Adir [F-35] in the sky and a Merkava-4 Barak on land,” Hasson said of the new tank expected to be ready for trial runs by the IDF in 2020.
The new tank is designed as a “smart tank” with dozens of sensors and a task computer that will present all information to both the crew inside the tank as well as the other tanks and vehicles present in the field.
The sensors, along with a 360-degree camera fitted outside the tank, will allow troops to remain in the tank at all times and a new smart helmet designed by Elbit will allow the commander of the tank to see exactly what is going on outside the tank, such as approaching terrorists or other threats.
The cooperation between the armored corps, air force and navy has also changed following the 2014 Operation Protective Edge
, with all branches linked to the same network in order to simplify data- and information-sharing.
The simplification and sharing of intelligence and information via C4I and the interoperability of all vehicles is crucial in order to identify the enemy and provide more precise and rapid fire closure, which allows the tank to eliminate the target before it disappears.
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