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Operational Intelligence, Political Warfare, and Battlefield Role As — KILLERS

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by Mark Galeotti  
February 2020, Number 046  Executive Summary —  

  • Russia’s Spetsnaz [Special Designation] forces are light infantry forces that are largely configured for reconnaissance, counterinsurgency, and power-projection missions, more comparable to the U.S. 75th Ranger Regiment or the British 16th Air Assault Brigade than to true special forces. Russia’s Special Operations Forces Command, however, is a genuine special forces unit.

  • Spetsnaz missions vary from battlefield reconnaissance and behind-the-lines sabotage to training guerrillas and, increasingly, supporting allied regimes against insurgencies and protests. They have played a significant role in all recent deployments, including in Crimea, the Donbas, and Syria.

  • Spetsnaz forces are especially geared toward “political warfare” operations, reflecting Moscow’s particular interest in integrating conventional military missions with covert “active measures.”
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  • Although there are other elite units, such as the paratroopers’ 45th Guards Independent Reconnaissance Regiment and the Federal Security Service’s Al’fa antiterrorist teams, the Spetsnaz (the term is a contraction of spetsial’noe naznacheniya, “of special purpose” or “of special designation”) remain the primary elite forces of the Russian military.  They are part of the military intelligence;  although Spetsnaz forces are considered a strategic asset, they are “lent” to territorial commands for operational deployment in times of war, subject to the final authority of the General Staff.

  • The Spetsnaz originally were shaped by the Cold War, as strategic assets who could be deployed deep behind North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) lines, especially to target tactical nuclear weapons and command structures. Thus, they had to combine the capacity to be inserted stealthily by land, air, or sea and to be both scouts and strikers. This combination of missions meant that although the forces largely were made up of conscripts (even if they were the pick of the crop), they had to be able to operate with far greater initiative than most other Soviet units. As a result, they also ended up playing a disproportionate role in the Soviet war in Afghanistan (1979–1989), both Chechen wars (1994–1996 and 1999–2009), and recent foreign adventures, including Georgia (2009), Crimea (2014), the Donbas intervention (2014–present), and Syria (2015–present).

  • At present, there are as many as 17,000 Spetsnaz, although this figure must be qualified. They are undoubtedly an elite unit within the Russian military, but there are elites and there are elites. The Spetsnaz still include conscripts serving one-year terms, although these conscripts are the pick of the draft and often have some pre-service experience from military-patriotic classes or the Young Army movement. 

  • There have been serious efforts to make the Spetsnaz an all-volunteer force, and although this still has not been accomplished, they are closer to this target than the rest of the military: The Special Operations Forces Command (KSSO: Komandovanie Sil Spetsial’nykh Operatsiy)  and some brigades are now all-volunteer, whereas other forces are perhaps 70 percent to 80 percent professional.

  • Overall, it is best and most accurate to compare them with other mobile, light infantry intervention forces, such as the U.S. 75th Ranger Regiment or the British 16th Air Assault Brigade, rather than with Tier One, true special operations forces. Such a designation ought to be reserved for high-readiness, high-status elements, such as the reconnaissance companies in regular Spetsnaz brigades, the combat swimmers in the Naval Spetsnaz, and (above all) the KSSO; taken together, these forces number more than 1,000 men.

  • There are seven regular Independent Special Designation Brigades (OBrSN: Otdel’naya Brigada Spetsial’nogo naznacheniya), along with the 100th Brigade (which is a combat unit but especially is involved in testing new weapons and tactics), the 25th Independent Special Designation Regiment, and the Special Operations Command. Brigades comprise two or more Independent Special Designation Detachments (ОOSN: Ot’delnyi Otryad Spetsial’nogo naznacheniya),  which are, in effect, regiments of around 500 effectives, although the details of establishment strength, equipment, and training vary depending on local conditions or missions.

  • Each of the four fleets has an Independent Naval Reconnaissance Spetsnaz Point (OMRPSn: Otdel’nyi Morskoy Razvedyvatelnyi Punkt Spetsial’nogo naznacheniya), a brigade-strength unit of varying composition, with a maximum size of some 1,400 operators.

  • As for the KSSO, this strategic-level asset officially became operational in 2013 and experienced its baptism of fire during the 2014 Crimean annexation. It is built around the 346th Independent Spetsnaz Brigade, which is a “light” force of just a single OOSN, with perhaps 500 operators. However, it also has its own integral helicopter squadron with Mi-8/17 assault transports and Ka-50/52 gunships, based at Torzhok airbase (home of the 344th Army Aviation Combat Training Center), and a designated airlift squadron.

  • The distinctiveness of the Spetsnaz is, in part, a reflection of the Russian operational code, which has shaped the country’s way of war and thus the requirements it places on its forces. A strategic worldview that sees Russia under constant threat of both invasion and subversion has led to a particular blurring of the boundaries between war and peace. This worldview, combined with an understanding of the strength of NATO as Russia’s primary potential antagonist and the perceived need for Russia to find ways to reassert itself on the wider world stage, has contributed to the emergence of the Spetsnaz’s particular roles as power-projection assets and forces that support wider campaigns of covert intelligence-gathering and subversion.


SPECIAL FORCES UNITS IN THE IDF  —  UNIT 101 —    Commando Unit 101, the founding Israeli special forces unit, was established and commanded by Ariel Sharon on orders from Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion in August 1953.
They were armed with non-standard weapons and tasked with carrying out 
retribution operations across the state's borders – in particular, establishing small unit maneuvers, activation and tactical insertion and exit tactics.

Members of the unit were recruited only from agricultural Kibbutzim and Moshavim. Membership in the unit was by invitation only, and any new member had to be voted on by all existing members before they were accepted.

The unit was merged into the 890th Paratroop Battalion during January 1954, on orders of General Dayan, Chief of Staff, because he wanted their experience and spirit to be spread among all infantry units of IDF starting with the paratroopers. They are considered to have had a significant influence on the development of subsequent Israeli special forces units.    The UNIT was the birth of Israeli Special Forces  and was disbanded.   This is a rare photo of the leaders of Israel to be in 1955—   Which takes us to the SAYERET units of today.   

SAYERET  —  Sayeret, literally means "reconnaissance unit" in the Israel Defense Forces. They specialize in intelligence gathering and surveillance. In practice, these units specialize in commando and other special forces roles, in addition to reconnaissance. Such units are usually a company or a battalion in strength.

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Israeli officers of the Paratrooper Battalion 890 in 1955 with Moshe Dayan (standing, third from the left). Ariel Sharon is standing, second from the left and commando Meir Har Zion is standing furthest left.

SAYERET UNITS TODAY  —  All combat brigades in the IDF have a unit with improved weaponry and training used for reconnaissance and special forces missions, trained to use advanced weapons and reconnaissance technology, as well as hand-to-hand combat. 

Historically the brigades used to only have one company-sized unit outfitted to do this job, known as Palsar (Hebrew contraction of: פלוגת-סיור, Plugat Siyur (singular) / Plugot Siyur (plural), "Reconnaissance Company"). Although the Palsar are mostly oriented at battlefield support (which is their raison d'être), many have participated in special operations during recent years. 

All infantry units as well as some armored units have Palsar. While in the past there were differences between the Siyur units, due to the experiences of the past decades the IDF is now consolidating them into larger units with many different capabilities: battalion-sized units called Gadsar (contraction of Gdud Siyur, "Reconnaissance battalion"). Each Gadsar is made up of three specialized Plugot (companies): demolitions and combat engineering (Plugat Habalah Handasit, or Palhan), reconnaissance (Plugat Siyur, Palsar) and anti-tank (Pluga Neged Tankim, or Palnat).

On late December 2015, some Ground Force special forces units have been assembled in the Oz Brigade.

Other SF units or Sayaret are larger units, operating directly under the General Staff. They are tasked with the most sensitive missions but they also support other conventional and SF units, if needed. Those units are Sayeret Matkal, Shayetet 13 and Shaldag.

ISRAEL TODAY - The INP-Israels National Police —  The vigilance of the Israeli people in defending their democracy today is not only based on the military on their the borders, but to defend against domestic infiltration by terrorists sponsored by the Palestinians, Lebanese, Hamas, Hezbola and Iran.   

🇮🇱  The INP commissioner is assisted by a staff of senior officers who form the National Headquarters. This staff consists of five major generals, each heading one of the force's  departments:  This staff consists of five major generals, each heading one of the force's five departments:   

🇮🇱  policing and security,    
🇮🇱  investigation and crime fighting,   
🇮🇱  logistics, personnel  
🇮🇱  planning  
🇮🇱  organization. 

🇮🇱 The country is divided into four police districts, which are divided in subdistricts and stations.
The patrol arm of the INP is responsible for public peace and security, law enforcement, crime prevention, and public order. 
🇮🇱 The INP, together with the Israeli Defense Force, acts as Israel's Coast Guard. The Department of Investigation and Crime Fighting is staffed by 2,500 investigators. 
🇮🇱 Three nationwide investigation units address fraud and white-collar crime, organized crime and serious crime, and internal affairs (investigation of police officers). Israel is a full member of Interpol and has close relations with other members of this agency.

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More than 1,000 law enforcement officials and first responders have gone to Israel for joint training and exercises with their Israeli counterparts. With the United States on constant terror alert since the events of September 11, 2001, Americans are taking advantage of Israel’s expertise in various facets of counter-terrorism and first response to better protect the American people.

In 2002, Los Angeles Police Department detective Ralph Morten visited Israel to receive training and advice on preparing security arrangements for large public gatherings. From lessons learned on his trip, Det. Morten prepared a new Homicide Bomber Prevention Protocol and was better able to secure the Academy Awards presentation.

In January 2003, thirty-three senior U.S. law enforcement officials - from Washington, Chicago, Kansas City, Boston and Philadelphia - traveled to Israel to attend a meeting on “Law Enforcement in the Era of Global Terror.” The workshops helped build skills in identifying terrorist cells, enlisting public support for the fight against terrorism and coping with the aftermath of a terrorist attack.

“We went to the country that’s been dealing with the issue for 30 years,” Boston Police Commissioner Paul F. Evans said. “The police are the front line in the battle against terrorism. We were there to learn from them - their response, their efforts to deter it. They touched all the bases.”

“I think it’s invaluable,” said Washington, DC Police Chief Charles Ramsey about the instruction he received in Israel. “They have so much more experience in dealing with this than we do in the United States.”

Also, in 2003, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security established a special Office of International Affairs to institutionalize the relationship between Israeli and American security officials. “I think we can learn a lot from other countries, particularly Israel, which unfortunately has a long history of preparing for and responding to terrorist attacks,” said Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) about the special office.

A 2007 publication by the Police Executive Research Forum said, “We must embrace, in particular, our Israeli and British counterparts, to whom we can turn for lessons learned.”

In November 2011, a delegation of senior American law enforcement officials, including police commanders, security experts and FBI agents, went to Israel for a joint training seminar with Israeli counter-terrorism officials sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League. Israeli Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the program provided the visiting officials with an opportunity to “learn from each other and their Israeli counterparts. “The program covered topics such as border security and media response during crises as well as overviewing strategies for treating mass casualties, performing rescue operations, and establishing command and control at the scene of a terror attack.

Col. Robert Quinn, commander of the New Hampshire State Police, was part of the delegation. “It’s really been an eye-opener,” says Col. Quinn. “We attend various training in the states on terrorism and counter terrorism issues but never have I ever learned as much as I have just by looking and observing as I have been in [Israel].”

In early September 2012, the New York Police Department (NYPD) opened an Israeli branch at the Sharon District Police Headquarters in the Israeli coastal city of Kfar Saba. The NYPD decided to open an Israeli branch because the Israeli police is one of the major police forces with which it must maintain close work relations and daily contact.

In September 2013, a special team of bomb squad members from cities along the U.S.-Mexico border travelled to Israel to improve techniques and tactics for dealing with illegal immigration and IED attacks. Sgt. Chris Rogers represented the Pima (Arizona) Regional Bomb Squad - “We engaged the Department of Defense and the technical support group to sponsor the trip so we could get first hand training and experience from the Israelis who have been dealing with cross border IED (Improvised Explosive Devices) for some time now.”

Some of the training for the group included going to a West Bank military outpost with the Israeli National Police bomb squad and visiting an Israeli port of entry to learn about port inspections as they relate to counter explosives and counter IED operations.

Fifteen members of U.S. Security agencies and police departments travelled to Israel in September 2015 to engage in counter-terrorism training sessions, led by Israeli counter-terrorism officers. The trip was sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League, and according to the organization’s director, the participants, “learn[ed] lessons from Israel in terms of tactics and strategies and the evolution of terrorism.” Officials hailing from the U.S. Marshalls Service, U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police, as well as the Chicago, Las Vegas, Austin, Seattle, Oakland, and Miami-Dade police departments, participated in this training exercise.

A diverse group of 52 law enforcement officers from 12 U.S. states visited Israel and participated in joint training sessions with their Israeli counterparts during September 2017. This program, known as the Police Unity Tour, has been held periodically since 1997.

The Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange (GILEE) regularly takes delegations of law-enforcement officials from Georgia and other southern states to Israel for peer-to-peer training programs. The Cleveland Jewish News reported on a 2018 trip that included 21 senior law-enforcement officials from Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee: “The delegation studied Israel’s best practices and advances in community policing; recruitment and deployment; counterterrorism; emergency management; advanced technologies; homeland security policies; mounted police; use of K-9 services for drugs, explosives and missing persons; and crisis negotiations.” They were also briefed by Maj. Gen. Jamal Hakroosh – the first Muslim major general in the Israel Police and met with Arab cadets in the police academy.

GILEE founding director Robbie Friedmann said the sessions emphasized “a policy and a strategy aimed at achieving more effective and efficient crime control, reduced fear of crime, improved quality of life, improved police services and police legitimacy, through a proactive reliance on community resources that seek to change crime-causing conditions,” explained Friedmann. “ It assumes a need for greater accountability of police, greater public share in decision-making, and greater concern for civil rights and liberties.”

Another participant on one of the trips, Major Michael Lindstrom of the Sandy Springs Police Department said, “I think one of the most important lessons I learned from our time in Israel was how important it was to connect with the community that the officers were working in.”

Similarly, Chattanooga Police chief, Celeste Murphy said, “We learned a lot about community policing, how they are able to bridge the gap between multiple cultures and religions, in a very careful way.” She added, “It shows they have a compassion for the people they serve, and that’s a lesson that we could of course refresh on,” she said.

“Over the years, hundreds of Israel police officers have had the distinct honor to participate in GILEE delegations and exchange information and best practices in almost every law enforcement area imaginable – including counter-terrorism, forensic sciences, bomb disposal, community policing, and more recently, leadership training,” noted Insp. Gen. Roni Alsheich, Commissioner, Israel Police. “These exchanges have undoubtedly increased the knowledge and professionalism on both sides and the personal relationships between law enforcement personnel have proven to be invaluable.”

In 2022, Prof. David Weisburd, a Hebrew University criminologist, conducted a course for police officers in Houston, Texas, Tucson, Arizona, and Cambridge, Massachusetts based on a model known as “ procedural justice. According to Haaretz:

The 40-hour training course included role-playing intended to help participating officers learn how to project empathy toward the people they encounter, suspend judgment and try to see the “ truth” in what the people they encounter tell them. They learned what to say in order to demonstrate attentiveness and how to transmit a correct message via a look, a nod of the head, posture and tone. They were taught about biases and stereotypes, about working with minority and other specific populations and about methods for building trust.

The participants were assigned to high-crime areas and Weisburd monitored their activities for nine months and found their behavior changed. Officers listened more attentively to the people they interacted with and treated them respectfully. The public’s attitude toward the police also improved. During the period, arrests decline by 60%.


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  • These are the most well-known reconnaissance units. Their operators are proficient in long range solo navigation, as opposed to other special forces units in the IDF where long range navigation is done with a minimum of 2 operators.
  • General Staff Reconnaissance Unit 269 – Sayeret Matkal – the IDF's principal Sayeret unit, used mainly to obtain strategic intelligence behind enemy lines and to perform hostage-rescue missions on foreign soil. It is directly subordinate to the Israeli Military Intelligence Directorate (AMAN).
  • 13th Flotilla – Shayetet 13 – the naval commando unit, equivalent to the US Navy SEALs or British Special Boat Service. It is part of the Israeli Navy and tasked with maritime hostage-rescue missions. Founded in 1948 by former members of the Palyam, the naval branch of the Haganah.
  • Unit 5101 – Shaldag – founded in 1974 by several former Sayeret Matkal veterans, it is the Israeli Air Force's commando unit, specializing in forward air control, aerial & special reconnaissance, and target designation outside of Israel's borders.


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  • Unit 212 – Maglan – a commando unit which specializes in operating behind enemy lines.
  • Unit 217 – Duvdevan – mistaravim unit.
  • Unit 621 – Egoz – counter-guerrilla unit.

INFANTRY CORPS  - The regular five infantry brigades (Golani, Givati, Nahal, Kfir and the Paratroopers) operate their own Palsars, today joint with Pal'nat and Pal'han to form a "Gad'sar/G'dud Siur", or Reconnaissance Battalion. Each unit is subordinate to a specific brigade command, though they are not restricted to it.

  • 93rd Reconnaissance Battalion – Kfir Brigade  —  The 900th "Kfir" Brigade (Hebrew: חֲטִיבַת כְּפִיר, lit. "Lion Cub Brigade"), is the youngest and largest infantry brigade of the Israel Defense Forces. It is subordinate to the 340th "Idan" Armoured Division of Israel's Central Regional Command. In the 1990s the IDF formed the Designated Infantry Battalions (also known as the "90s Battalions") as auxiliary troops accompanying its armored forces. On December 6, 2005, these were unified into a single regular-service brigade commanded by Colonel Eyal Nosovski. The brigade is currently deployed in the West Bank where its primary missions include counter-terror operations, apprehension of Palestinian militants, raids, patrols, manning checkpoints and regular security activities. Before Israel's 2005 disengagement from Gaza, Kfir units were also stationed in the Gaza Strip. Members of this unit wear a camouflaged beret.

  • 631st Reconnaissance Battalion – Golani Brigade  —  The 1st "Golani" Brigade (Hebrew: חֲטִיבַת גּוֹלָנִי) is an Israeli military infantry brigade that is subordinated to the 36th Division and traditionally associated with the Northern Command. It is one of the five infantry brigades of the regular Israel Defense Forces  (the others being the Paratroopers Brigade, the Nahal Brigade, the Givati Brigade and the Kfir Brigade). Its symbol is a green olive tree against a yellow background, with its soldiers wearing a brown beret. It is one of the most highly decorated infantry units in the IDF. The brigade consists of five battalions, including two which it kept from its inception (12th and 13th), one transferred from the Givati Brigade (51st).
    The brigade was formed on February 22, 1948, during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, when the Levanoni Brigade in the Galilee split into the 1st Golani Brigade and the 2nd Carmeli Brigade. It has since participated in all of Israel's major wars and nearly all major operations, including the Suez Crisis, the Six-Day War, the War of Attrition, the Yom Kippur War, Operation Entebbe, the 1978 South Lebanon conflict, the 1982 and 2006 Lebanon Wars, and various operations during the Palestinian intifadas.
    Three of its commanders, Mordechai Gur, Gabi Ashkenazi and Gadi Eizenkot have become IDF Chiefs of Staff with many more reaching the rank of aluf (major general).

  • 846th Reconnaissance Battalion – Givati Brigade  —  2014  —  In the summer of 2014, the Givati Brigade participated in the Israeli offensive Operation Protective Edge. During a 72-hour ceasefire, elements of the brigade's reconnaissance company engaged in a brief skirmish with Hamas soldiers in the southern Gazan city of Rafah, near the border with Egypt. 
    Three soldiers, including the commander, Benaya Sarel, of the Givati Reconnaissance Company (Sayeret Givati), were killed in the ensuing firefight subsequently dubbed “Black Friday” .
      Lieutenant Hadar Goldin was captured by Hamas soldiers and taken into a tunnel, and the assistant company commander took a small group of soldiers with him into the tunnel in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to rescue Goldin.
    After learning of Goldin's capture, the IDF initiated the Hannibal Directive and carried out a relentless air and ground attack on residential areas of Rafah.    In the summer of 2015, a United Nations independent commission inquiry, as well as a joint report by Amnesty International and Forensic Architecture, found that Israel's indiscriminate violence against all human life on Black Friday amounted to war crimes. The reports detail the massive Israeli bombardment that killed between 135 and 200 Palestinian civilians, including 75 children.The IDF Rabbinate later declared the Goldin deceased for the purposes of Jewish burial and grieving rituals and buried the remains.The assistant company commander was later awarded Israel's highest military honor, and the soldiers that accompanied him into the tunnel were also awarded military commendations. The Givati Brigade was the most highly decorated brigade in the IDF in 2014, despite war crime accusations by the international community and despite killing fellow IDF soldier Tal Nachman by friendly fire.

  • 934th Reconnaissance Battalion – Nahal Brigade —  The 933rd "Nahal" Brigade is one of the Israel Defense Forces main infantry brigades. From August 2019 to June 2021, the brigade was led by Yisrael Shomer, On June 28, Sharon Asman was appointed as the new commander. However, three days later, on July 1, Asman suddenly died during morning training. As a result, Shomer was issued command again until a permanent replacement could be found.
    It was established as a separate brigade in 1982, in response to the growing need for infantry manpower, before the 1982 Lebanon War. Its 50th battalion was originally part of the Paratrooper Brigade in the 1950s. It is formed mainly from regular draftees, as well as from a core of soldiers from the Nahal group, part of the Nahal movement, which combines social volunteerism, agriculture (historically the establishment of kibbutz farming communities) and military service. Many Mahal foreign volunteers are also known to serve in the Nahal Brigade, providing a highly motivated and disciplined core of soldiers for the brigade.
    Nahal Brigade soldiers are distinguished by their light green berets,  which earned them the nickname "sticklights" (Hebrew for glowsticks). The brigade is composed of 4 active-duty battalions– 50, 931, 932, and 934 (the Gadsar, Hebrew for reconnaissance battalion) – and the various companies on its training base, which together comprise Battalion 933.

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  • 5135th Reconnaissance Battalion – Paratroopers Brigade —  The 35th Brigade (Hebrew: חֲטִיבַת הַצַּנְחָנִים, Hativat HaTzanhanim), also known as the Paratroopers Brigade, is an infantry brigade unit of paratroopers within the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), and forms a major part of the Infantry Corps. It has a history of carrying out special forces-style missions dating back to the 1950s.
    Paratrooper Brigade soldiers wear maroon berets with the infantry pin and reddish-brown boots. Distinct from all other soldiers of the IDF, Paratroopers wear a tunic and belt over the shirt.
    The IDF has four reservist paratrooper brigades (55th, 226th, 551st and 646th) at any given time, consisting of personnel who served their mandatory time in the brigade, and who are mostly relatively recently discharged, aside from officers.

Palsar 7 – the 7th Armored Brigade reconnaissance unit.
Palsar 188 – the 188th Armored Brigade reconnaissance unit
Palsar 401 – the 401st Brigade reconnaissance unit.


Meitar/Moran – a unit operating long range anti-tank Tammuz missiles.
Sky Rider – a combat unit operating the Elbit Skylark drone.

Sayeret Yahalom – the engineering special forces unit, its missions range from EOD and bomb disposal to counter-mining warfare.

Combat Intelligence Collection Special Forces – tasked with intelligence-gathering, they operate either alone or in conjunction with other IDF units. They also provide target designation in wartime.


Unit 669 – combat search and rescue unit
Unit 5700 – establish Advance airfield and forward airfield

NAVY —  

Shayetet 7 - the unit which operates Israel's submarines
Unit Snapir – force protection and harbor security unit
Unit YALTAM – defensive divers unit tasked with mine countermeasures, explosive ordnance disposal and salvage and recovery. Not to be confused with Shayetet 13's own underwater unit.


Alpinist – IDF mountain-warfare unit operating in the Golan Heights; provides protection for IDF electronic listening posts on Mount Hermon and Mount Avital. This unit also provides alpine rescue services. (Northern Command).

General Staff Security Unit – bodyguard unit of the Chief of General Staff and other top dignitaries.

LOTAR – the IDF counter-terrorism school. Most IDF special forces units mentioned go through weeks of training lead by LOTAR at the Mitkan Adam base, and as such the school includes an operational unit made up by the school's instructors.

LOTAR Eilat – reserve force counter-terrorism/hostage-rescue unit based at the southern Israeli port city of Eilat. (Southern Command).

Oketz – the IDF's special K-9 unit.

School Of Operational Mobility (BALNAM) – Training of special forces and units from the entire IDF as tactical mobile personnel.


LET ME BE CLEAR —  SAMBO IS A SPORT —  COMPETITION WITH A VERSION OF TRAINING SIMILAR TO TECHNIQUES TAUGHT IN JUDO, JUI-JITSU, MUY THAI, SAVETE  and KARATE  (Note:  Karate has eleven versions —  or styles — Shotokan. Goju-ryu, Uechi-ryu, Wado-ryu,  Shorin-ryu, Kyokushin, Shito-ryu, Ashihara) others also have breakaway techniques,  adding TAEKWONDO, SILAT,  probably over 150 more styles,  sub-divisions and techniques.  Even some of the techniques might differ from what island in a chain you came from in the far east.  It is very popular in Israel as a sport.  The difference is --


🔘   The Israeli Army trains in a similar way to the Russian Spetsnaz with a style called KRAV MAGA.  Neither the Spetnatz System or Krav Maga is are for sport, they are for defeating with the intent of killing an opponent. 
However Israel fairs very well in the Sambo Sport Competition world wide in many classes.  And its soldiers are in a constant war unrelenting against hatred, terrorism, bombers, murderers, religious and anti-social extremist groups who vowed to destroy Israel simply because they are Jewish.  And very good at it.

The Israeli’s are tough, well trained, young, innovative, effective,  and get plenty of practice, against targets both real and simulated.  They train tough and fight tough.

KRAV MAGA is derived from a combination of techniques used in aikido, boxing, judo, karate, and wrestling. It is known for its focus on real-world situations and its extreme efficiency. 
In Israel, they also have classes and introductory parties ( even a birthday party) to introduce and teach kids to defend themselves.  Israel's enemies  care less about women and children.  Thus Israel, has mandatory conscript training for its young people virtually creating a nation of fighters if needed.

Sambo began to develop in Israel in the 80s, when the International Sambo Federation was a part of the FILA and subsequently became independent. Fernando Compte was the president. Basically, the popularity of Sambo in Israel mostly depended on the new immigrants from the Soviet Union. 

Sport clubs and societies began to open that at the time had nothing to do with judo.   People who were related only to Sambo trained in these clubs. They brought their children and friends with them. 12 clubs were founded throughout Israel.

Championships and the national championships were regularly held. An international tournament in memory of athletes who died in 1972 at the Munich Olympics was organized.  

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🔘   Krav Maga was developed in Czechoslovakia in the 1930s by Imi Lichtenfeld,  He first taught his fighting system in Bratislava in order to help protect the local Jewish community from the Nazi militia. 

Upon arriving in the British Mandate of Palestine, Lichtenfeld began teaching Kapap to the Haganah, the Jewish underground army.  With the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, Lichtenfeld became the Chief Instructor of Physical Fitness and Krav Maga at the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) School of Combat Fitness. He served in the IDF for 15 years, during which time he continued to develop and refine his hand-to-hand combat method. 

In 1964 he left the military though continued to supervise the instruction of Krav Maga in both military and law-enforcement contexts, and in addition, worked to refine, improve and adapt Krav Maga to meet civilian needs.

🔘   Expansion to the USA    Prior to 1980, all experts in Krav Maga lived in Israel and trained under the Israeli Krav Maga Association. That year marks the beginning of contact between Israeli Krav Maga experts and interested students in the United States. In 1981, a group of six Krav Maga instructors traveled to the US to demonstrate their system, primarily to local Jewish Community Centers. 

The New York field office of the FBI and the FBI’s main training center at Quantico, Virginia saw it and expressed interest. The result was a visit by 22 people from the US to Israel in the summer of 1981 to attend a basic Krav Maga instructor course. The graduates from this course returned to the US and began to establish training facilities in their local areas. 

Additional students traveled to Israel in 1984 and again in 1986 to become instructors. At the same time, instructors from Israel continued to visit the US. Law enforcement training in the US began in 1985. Krav Maga is currently being taught as a primary hand-to-hand combat technique at some police departments in the United States.

🔘   Expansion to other Countries    Krav Maga has been growing in popularity over the last several years with more schools opening up the UK, France, Spain, Germany, Italy and a number of other European countries as well as places like Australia and South America. Krav Maga’s growing popularity is due to a number reasons; organizations such as the KMG, FEKM (European Federation of Krav Maga) IKMF and have been promoting it a lot across Europe and various other parts of the world. Films and TV shows such as 24, Taken, NCIS and Archer are known to feature it in the show. Krav Maga being utilized by a number of professional organizations such as the IDF, Mossad, Shin Bet, FBI, and DEA has led to increased popularity with civilians also.


The goal in Krav Maga is to keep one safe. In a violent situation; there are no rules. You need to do anything in your power not to get hurt. What does “ Everything in your power” mean?

🔘   Taking preventative measures comes first. Be aware and avoid violence. 

🔘   You can prevent yourself from getting into a danger zone by keeping your eyes and ears open. 

🔘   If you see a problem around you, stay away. 

🔘   If you have no choice,  then a kick to the groin, spitting, biting, gouging and hair pulling are all very legitimate. 

🔘   Never escalate the situation and remember; fighting is the last resort.


🔘   Aim to your opponent’s weak points. Weak spots of the body, such as eyes, nose, throat, groin and more, are not organs that can develop muscle and therefore even the strongest or biggest attacker is not immune to attacks in those areas.
Since Krav Maga is not a sport, and a violent situation is not like sparring with your friends at the gym, attacks should always be directed to your opponent’s vulnerable spots.   Attacks to these spots will cause great effect and won’t be blocked by muscle or fat. If you want to stop the fight, you have to fight back!

Quick and powerful responses. In a nutshell, Krav Maga is all about responding quickly, from 0% to 100% in a split of sec. Explosive power and a lot of mental work are essential in Krav Maga. We learn how to react efficiently under stress. Attacks must be quick and powerful, otherwise, they don’t count.

🔘   Speed and technique are important than strength. Techniques based on quick responses and efficiency are not strength-dependent. A teenage girl must be able to defend herself against a male adult. This does not mean however that strength is not important: of course, the stronger you are, the better, but it is not the most important and determinative characteristic a good defender must possess.

🔘   In the take down on the right  — A knife attack is nullified.  The middle soldier can drop his 200 plus pounds on the thorax of the enemy with his knee either holding and disabling him, breaking his neck,  or killing  him soon after he hit the ground by other means.  And depending on the enemies intent —  again KRAV MAGA is not a sport,  it is very much intent on causing great and or final harm — to an aggressor —  

🔘   Acquire skills for real-life situations. Every person attacks in a different way. Most likely, a real attacker will be different (size, strength, aggression and his technique) from those you trained with. Therefore, Krav Maga stresses improvisation and learning to enrich one’s “toolbox”. The more we train, the more tools we gain. Sometimes we have to react under unfamiliar or adverse circumstances, such as dark surroundings, body positions, with limited movement ability or under extreme stress and fatigue. The techniques are taught in their ideal form, with the best possible reaction to a given situation.

🔘   Repetition is crucial —  Practicing techniques on a one-time basis is never enough. There is a difference between what your brain understands to what your body can perform. We train hard to create muscle memory. Once we “earn” it, it’s there for us. Your body remembers better than your brain.

🔘   Simplicity  —  Maga techniques were designed based on our human natural reactions, therefore if practiced and refined, it will be easy to perform under stress. Simple is effective and efficient.

🔘   Krav Maga adjusts to your abilities  — Not everyone can kick high, split their legs very wide or lift 200 pounds with one hand. We do not to make you do those things but work with what we’ve got. In Krav Maga, you can find a way to work with your proportions. A heavy person can emphasize fist fighting; a small person can take advantage of his frame for quickness.

🔘   Minimal fighting  —  When you have the upper hand, and your opponent is no longer a threat – so stop fighting! We must respond according to the needs and not beyond them. Crossing this line between self-defense to unnecessary aggressive behavior results in losing control! If you lose it, you lost more than just this fight.

🔘   Stay on your feet —  You DON’T want to fight on the ground. It takes only one time that you face more than one attacker and your ground skills just won’t count. If you want to finish the fight fast, ground fighting won’t be the right solution.

🔘   Krav Maga is an ever-changing set of techniques  —  Since Krav Maga is a reality, street-based self-defense method, it only makes sense to keep it up to date with knowledge and practice of today’s reality. As long as the above principles are kept, it is encouraged to evolve ALL the time. If we find a better and safer way to respond, we adopt it. Threats always change, 500 years ago, swords were very common, today, it’s knives and guns. Who knows what the next is? Krav Maga is there to provide the best available solutions. Krav Maga is not about ego, and not about staying loyal to any tradition. It is about being safe.

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