IDF to create special forces command

Plan to unite elite units was broached several years ago, but continually postponed.

lebanon special ops 298 (photo credit: IDF)
lebanon special ops 298
(photo credit: IDF)
Following years of deliberations and as one of the many lessons drawn from the Second Lebanon War, the IDF has decided to establish a new command that will unite and be responsible for utilization and operation of all Israeli special forces. The plan was raised several years ago in the General Staff but continuously postponed due to the difficulty in uniting the units, each of which reports to a different branch of the military. The General Staff Reconnaissance Unit (Sayeret Matkal) is subordinate to Military Intelligence, Shaldag to the Israeli Air Force and the Navy Seals (Shayetet 13) to the Navy. There are other elite units that are subordinate to the Ground Forces Command. IDF elite units carried out dozens of operations in Lebanon during last summer's war, sometimes two a night. Most notable was a raid in the Beka Valley, executed by close to 200 soldiers from both Shaldag and Sayeret Matkal. The soldiers were airlifted, along with Hummer jeeps, deep into Lebanon. During the war, then-chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Dan Halutz appointed Maj.-Gen. Tal Russo as chief coordinator for special operations inside Lebanon. Since the war, Russo has been named head of the IDF Operations Directorate, but has continued as the chief of General Staff's advisor on special operations. The new command will most probably be headed by an officer at the rank of brigadier-general. The IDF plans to establish a command for special operations similar to the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), which functions as a single command when elite units from different branches are used in the same operation. Israel's elite units will continue to train in their respective branches but, like the USSOCOM, will unite under one command during joint operations.