A year after Israel's last war in Gaza, the country's military has announced the formation of a new commando brigade that will merge the army’s four most elite units, Israeli media outlets reported Tuesday. The decision comes as the Israeli military drafts up and rolls out a multi-year plan to boost the Israel Defense Force’s (IDF) efficiency and streamline its budget, though few details are yet available, according to ynetnews. As part of the plan, the military announced last month it would discharge 100,000 reservists, who they said were under-trained.
Israel has a small standing military of around 180,000 active personnel, which has historically relied heavily on its more than 445,000 reservists during wartime. The IDF is esteemed for its elite and tactical units, as well as its advanced technology and its coordination between its varying sea, land and air divisions.
The military has been engaged in repeated wars with its neighbors since the country's independence in 1948. Most recently, Israel staged a seven-week operation in the Palestinian Gaza strip, a 139 square mile strip bordering Egypt that has been under Israeli control since 1967. The fighting was marked by heavy Israeli bombardment, Palestinian rocketfire and ground combat, resulting in some 2,200 Palestinian and 72 Israeli deaths. Gaza is currently run by Hamas, a party Israel designates as a terrorist organization.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said the new unit would be an umbrella for some of the countries most elite divisions. The new elite unit will include Maglan, an elite artillery unit; Duvdevan, an elite platoon that served in the Golani infantry brigade; Egoz, previously an undercover unit in the West Bank; and Rimon, an elite platoon of Israel's Givati infantry brigade, Times of Israel reported.
The new brigade will be under the paratroopers’ reserve division and will be headed by a colonel. While announcing the new plan, the military also announced promotions for a number of top military personnel who served in last summer’s war in Gaza. Since that war, Israel’s military establishment has pushed for more long-sighted planning, including increased training over the summer and restructuring.