Tank corps mulling reconnaissance school

‘Palsar’ units, which have long scouted ahead of armored formations on battlefields, will be retrained for urban warfare.

July 27, 2010 03:54
2 minute read.
A TANK battles sandy terrain. Maj. Yair and his te

idf tank 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)


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Facing a drop in effectiveness, the IDF Armored Corps is considering the establishment of a special school to train reconnaissance units that operate alongside tank brigades.

The reconnaissance units – known by their Hebrew name Palsar – currently exist in the 401st Armored Brigade as well as the 7th Armored Brigade. The IDF is also thinking of establishing a third Palsar unit, for the 188th Armored Brigade.

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Palsar units were established several decades ago to provide real-time intelligence for IDF armored brigades. In addition to providing intelligence, their job is to open routes for armored columns and to locate enemy positions.

Behind the decision to open the school is a feeling among armored commanders that Palsar units need to “reinvent themselves” following the introduction of battalion- and brigade-level unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) into tank units.

“If a commander has a choice between sending a UAV to scout out over the hill or the Palsar, he will prefer the UAV and not put soldiers’ lives at risk,” said a senior officer from the IDF’s Ground Forces Command. “This does not mean that Palsar units are no longer needed. What is needed is to sharpen the definition of what they do.”

Current Palsar units in the Armored Corps undergo basic training with other IDF infantry units like Egoz – which is the Golani Brigade’s specially-trained anti-guerrilla unit – but do not have their own unique training regimen.

“Palsar units are needed particularly on the future battlefield, which will likely be inside an urban setting filled with improvised explosive devices (IEDs),” the officer said. “Palsar units will be needed in such a setting to assist tanks in identifying the enemy inside homes and ensuring the survivability of the armored vehicles.”

In related news, the IDF has decided to establish a special unit under command of the Givati Brigade whose members will be trained for combat with Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The decision was made by the Ground Forces Command following Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip last year.

The new unit, which has yet to be named, will be modeled after Egoz, which was established in the 1990s to combat Hizbullah in the IDF-controlled Security Zone that existed at the time in southern Lebanon. It will undergo special training in combat in desert conditions, such as those in Gaza, as well as in uncovering tunnels and booby-traps in urban settings such as Gaza’s towns and refugee camps.

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