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Israel creates "Depth Corps" for SpecOps


Donald McKelvy
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Aug 14, 2009
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"Going Under"
May 01 , 2012
David Eshel•Tel Aviv


The Israeli military has established a “depth corps” force to coordinate and execute multi-disciplinary missions far from the country's borders. The primary task of the corps, says Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, chief of the general staff, will be to extend joint operations into strategic theaters.

Modeled after the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command, creation of the depth corps force indicates Israel's military envisions that long-range, largely clandestine and multi-service missions will have a much higher priority than the conventional operations that have been the main focus of its activity for decades. It also suggests that Israel expects future wars to be long, difficult and not winnable only by fighting along its own borders.

The decision to establish the command stems from an assessment of the strategic shifts resulting from popular revolutions in the Arab world and Middle East, where moderate or predictable countries could become dominated by Islamic and even jihadist elements, as well as from the threat posed by a nuclear Iran.

Defense minister Ehud Barak and Gantz created the corps after recommendations from a team headed by Maj. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot. Eizenkot was tapped for the task last summer, after he completed his assignment as commander of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Northern Command, which is responsible for the border with Lebanon and the Golan Heights.

The new corps will be commanded by Maj. Gen. Shai Avital, 59, a former chief of the elite Sayeret Matkal commando force, veteran covert operations expert and close associate of Barak. Avital was recalled to active duty to head the corps, which is unusual. Gantz and Barak thought that the leader of such a command based on various special forces, each with their own capabilities and fighting traditions, would have to be a commander with the unique authority and experience to gain the confidence of subordinates during missions.

Predictably, some are calling the corps “the Iran Command.” Israel has a command for Iran affairs—namely, the Mossad intelligence agency—which has been doing the heavy lifting in the campaign against the Iranian nuclear threat. If there is any unit within the IDF that deals with Iran specifically, it is the Israeli air force (IAF), the service that will be called upon in the event of an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Gantz instructed Eizenkot to assess recent developments and strategic shifts in the region to determine whether the IDF needed to make changes in its planning. In reviewing past assessments, Eizenkot's team, which comprised high-ranking officers and one senior Mossad official, discovered that the need for a deep-strike force had been identified as far back as 1982, when a decision was made to create a depth corps at the general staff level. Implementation was delayed until 1986 as a result of the First Lebanon War, which took place in 1982. Maj. Gen. (ret.) Doron Rubin was named head of the unit, but fallout from the raid it orchestrated against a base in Lebanon of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command in December 1988, code-named Operation Blue and Brown, shut down the command. During the operation, which took place in Nueimeh, four Golani Regiment soldiers were left behind and had to be rescued under fire by IAF Cobra helicopters. The soldiers, clutching the skids of the Cobras, were flown out to sea for pickup by Israeli navy boats. Rubin stepped down afterward and the special operations unit was absorbed into the Northern Command.


ACCESS: Secret
Jul 15, 2009
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Hypothetical question: How could an air-mobile group tote enough shaped charges to quickly bust into bunker complex designed to stand off such an attack ??

I can imagine a scenario where the ground force use laser illuminators and smart bombs to deepen holes, but the Iranian nuke facilities seem to be well-buried...


ACCESS: Top Secret
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Sep 26, 2008
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There is an article in Defense News indicating that they may be interested in the V-22 for this new corps.

Grey Havoc

The path not taken.
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Oct 9, 2009
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I suspect that the new command is going to get blamed a lot for things like this:


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