IDF's new etrog battalion makes battalions stronger, more independent

‘We give them all the tools they need for victory’

The IDF's Etrog Battalion.  (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
The IDF's Etrog Battalion.
When IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi took office, he decided to focus on the way the army addresses the modern battlefield and adjust all units to this perspective.
As part of the Tnufa multiyear plan, Kohavi decided to initiate a program called “the etrog battalions.” The etrog (citron) is used during Sukkot and is treated with great care.
The main purpose of the plan is to make the battalions more independent and stronger. If the battalions until now had to rely on the brigades and divisions to carry out tasks – whether requesting fire assistance or receiving intelligence – the plan intends to provide the battalions with tools to act on their own.
Col. Idan Galili, head of Ground Forces Manpower Planning Division, was tasked by Kohavi to advance this plan.
The symbolism of the etrog battalion was intended to intensify the importance the chief of staff attaches to this revolutionary plan, Galili told The Jerusalem Post Monday.
“The etrog needs to be well kept and surrounded by all the necessary means that will keep it functioning,” he said. “To get the battalion to fight independently and fulfill the mission it was tasked to do, the chief of staff ordered that these units be reinforced with more manpower, both combat fighters and auxiliary [support soldiers], and also combat equipment and munitions,” he added.
On Monday, the IDF started a series of inspections to review the progress of the plan in the battalions that have instituted it.
As the first part of the plan, ground forces maneuvering and attacking units have started going through these changes, Galili said.
As part of the inspections, the General Staff Forum led by Kohavi went to the field and visited the units.
About 27 Infantry Corps, Armored Corps and Engineering Corps battalions were inspected by some 14 General Staff crews, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said in a press release.
The inspections included three main aspects: reinforcement of manpower that was meant to take place to compensate for the shortening of mandatory service; equipping of munitions and other necessary equipment; and rearrangement of the units while maintaining their ability to operate in an effective way.
As part of the manpower reinforcement, each battalion will receive professional personnel, which will allow it to be more independent on the battlefield, Galili told the Post.
“If, for example, in the past, each battalion had one intelligence officer, now it will have two, plus more noncommissioned officers,” he said. “They will also have more personnel in the communications platoon – a field that is gaining steam these days.”
Another addition to the battalions will be a force that reflects the multi-domain combat that Kohavi also focuses on in his Tnufa plan.
It is a “Sufa” (Storm) assistance and attack force, which is composed of a ground artillery officer, an aerial attack officer (an air force pilot) and infantry soldiers.
The force uses advanced observation tools, including drones, and the goal is to spot enemy targets, direct attack forces at them – an aircraft or a missile battery – and close fire circles as quickly as possible.