The 401st Brigade, also known as the Tracks of Iron Formation ("Utzvat Ikvot Ha-Barzel" עוצבת עקבות הברזל) is a regular armored brigade in the IDF under the command of the Steel Formation (162nd Division). Today the brigade operates Merkava Siman 4M tanks with the 'windbreaker' active defense system and the Digital Land Battle computerized combat management system. These are the most advanced tanks in the IDF and among the most advanced in the world. The current Brigade Commander is Col Ohad Najma.
- 1 History
- 1.1 Six-Day War and the War of Attrition
- 79th BN Commanders
- 1.2 Yom Kippur War
- 1.3 After the War
- 1.4 First Lebanon War
- 1.5 After the First Lebanon War
- 1.6 Second Lebanon War
- 1.7 Ongoing Security Activity in the Gaza Strip
- 2 Brigade Units
- 2.1 46th Shalach Battalion
- 2.1.1 Battalion Commanders
- 2.2 52nd HaBokeem Battalion
- 2.2.1 Battalion Commanders
- 2.3 9th Eshet Battalion
- 2.3.1 Battalion Commanders
- 2.4 401 PALSA"R
- 2.4.1 History
- 18.104.22.168 War of Attrition
- 22.214.171.124 Yom Kippur War
- 126.96.36.199 Fighting in Lebanon
- 188.8.131.52 Second Intifada
- 184.108.40.206 Second Lebanon War
- 220.127.116.11 Operation Cast Lead
- 18.104.22.168 Operation Tzuk Eitan
- 2.4.2 Recruitment and Training
- 2.4.3 Role of Military Police in War
- 2.4.4 Unit Commanders
- 2.5 52nd PALMA"S (auxiliary company)
- 2.6 601st Battalion
- Unit Commanders
- 2.7 Evolution of the Brigade
- 3 Alumni Association
- 4 Brigade Commanders
- 5 Further Reading
- 6 External Links
- 7 Footnotes
Six-Day War and the War of Attrition
The brigade was created as a reserve unit of Magach tanks under the command of Col Uri Bar-On. During the Six-Day War, the brigade arrived with only the 46th Reserve BN which fought in the Rafah area. Afterwards, the brigade became part of the regular army and served together with the 14th Brigade in the Sinai Division (252nd Div). The division's role was to hold the 160-kilometer line of the canal. In 1968 the 79th BN was transferred from the 7th Brigade to the 401st Brigade. The brigade was the first to receive the new Magach 6 tanks purchased with American aid. 46th and 79th BN of the brigade participated in Operation Assuta in the a-Zafi area south of the Dead Sea, which was carried out in parallel with Operation Karameh.
During the War of Attrition the brigade served as a forge for the experienced tankers that constituted the bulk of the reserve system who participated in the Yom Kippur War.
Commanders of th 79th BN (401st Brigade)
|Avigdor Ben Gal||1968-1970||Commander during most of the War of Attrition, later a Maj Gen|
|Dan Shani (Friedberg)||1970-1970||Medal of Honor in Six_Day War, killed in War of Attrition serving as 79th BN commander|
|Avigdor Ben-Gal||1970-1970||returned to command with death of Dan Shani, later a Maj Gen|
|Jacob Lapidot||1970-1972||later a Gen|
|Shlomo Nitzani||1972-1973||commanded in Yom Kippur War until injured 07-10-1973|
The Yom Kippur War
Before the Yom Kippur War, the brigade was stationed on the southern front as part of the 252nd Division. Two brigades (401st and 14th) rotated every three months: one brigade was placed on the front lines while the other was in the rear to train and maintain their tanks and weapons. At this time Dan Shomron, who had been transferred from the Paratroopers into the Armored Corps, served as the brigade commander. At the outbreak of the war, the 401st was stationed in the rear in the Rafidim and Bir Tamada Camps. When the figthing erupted, the 79th BN was transferred to the 14th Brigade, while the 52nd BN was transferred from the 14th to the 401st.
With their initial success, the Egyptian Air Force began a large bombing campaign. The brigade headquarters was hit and nine soldiers killed. The brigade was ordered to move toward the southern part of the Suez Canal and try to connect with the strongholds there. The brigade carried out the order but Dan Shomron's proposal to evacuate the outposts fell on deaf ears. The division commander, Maj Gen Mandler, ordered the men in the strongholds to halt any evacuation. Shomron attempted to rescue some of the fighters in the strongholds that had been contacted but failed.
The brigade tried to stop the advance of Egyptian infantry and armor into the Sinai but was only partially successful. At the end of the second day of the war, less than half of the tanks remained in usable condition and dozens of soldiers had died. However, the brigade had delayed the construction of bridges in the southern part of the canal.
On 8 October, the brigade attacked Egyptian forces in the area of "cracker" (מפצח) close to the Lexicon axis destroying about 20 tanks and other ammunition trucks, but was forced to withdraw after Egyptian artillery and air strikes. That afternoon the 164th Brigade arrived in the sector and took responsibility for the Gidi Pass while the 401st Brigade stationed itself in the Mitla Pass area.
On 9 October the brigade halted an offensive by the Egyptian 19th Divison, destroying about 60 enemy tanks. On the same day, the forces of 46th BN abandoned the Keret Moreh Ridge following orders in what turned out to be a major mistake for which the brigade's troops would pay dearly. In the following days, the brigade's forces continued to fight Egyptian troops in the area and on 12 October the 202nd BN commanded by Doron Rubin captured the area south of the brigade.
On 13 October Albert Mandler, who commanded the division, was killed in the area south of the brigade, the result of an ambush by Egyptians armed with Sagger missiles, and Kalman Magen was appointed to replace him. On 14 October, the brigade participated in actions that stopped an Egyptian armored assault, and the 46th BN assisted the 202nd BN and other forces in Wadi Hawak which resulted in the destruction of 60 Egyptian armored vehicles without suffering any casualties.
After the War
At the end of the war and after the cease-fire agreement with the Egyptians, the brigade returned to the eastern side of the canal and was stationed at the Tasa Junction under the command of Ehud Barak, also a member of the paratroopers. At the time the brigade included three battalions of Magach tanks (52, 46, 195).
About a year before the outbreak of the First Lebanon War, the 195th BN was moved to the 500th Brigade, and the brigade was reinforced by a reserve battalion of soldiers from Hesder Yeshivas.
The First Lebanon War
During the First Lebanon War, the brigade, under the command of Col Uzi Levatzur, operated in the eastern part of the eastern sector near the Syrian-Lebanese border under the command of Brig Gen Emanuel Sakal of the 252nd Division in the Eastern Corps. The brigade consisted of three battalions of Magach 6 tanks - 46th BN under the command of Lt Col Zvika Fried, the 52nd BN under the command of Lt Col Uri Agmon, and the 3477th Reserve BN under the command of Lt Col Ofer. The brigade advanced in the direction of Ein Yatta via Roshya and Kfar Kook, and ended in the Deir al-Askir area at the time of the cease-fire.
After the war, based on the troops of the reserve battalion from the Hesder Yeshivas, a regular battalion was established - the 34th BN.
After the First Lebanon War
Following the War in Lebanon, the brigade carried out routine security activities in various sectors including Judea and Samaria, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, and the security zone in southern Lebanon (until close to the withdrawal in 2000). Some of the activity was carried out using tanks, some as infantry.
With the outbreak of the Second Intifada, its main activity was in the Gaza Atrip and in Judea and Samaria.
The brigade currently uses Merkava Siman 4 tanks, replacing the Magach 6 which it had used until 2004.
Second Lebanon War
The brigade took an active role in the entire Second Lebanon War. Their modern tanks fought primarily in the eastern sectors of Mutella and also took part in the battles of Bint Jbail. Because of the increased use of destructive anti-tank weapons and because the birgade's tanks formed the first line in the fighting in their sector, the brigade suffered numerous losses. Twelve soldiers were killed in the fighting in Lebanon and dozens more were injured.
One of the most well-known stories of the 401st Brigade during the Second Lebanon War it the story of the 'construction crew', (כוח בניה koch binaya) an independent group from the 46th BN under the command of Maj Benya Rein. The team consisted of Maj Benya Rein, SSG Alex Boinmovich, SSG Adam Goren and Uri Grossman, son of David Grossman. Rein was a company commander that did not command a company at the time and gathered soldiers after the war started. The team, known as the 'construction crew', engaged in rescue and saved several lives inside Lebanon. In one case, the 'constuction crew' rescued eight engineers from a damaged Puma APC under fire. A few minutes after the rescue, it took a direct hit from an anti-tank missile. In another rescue, the crew's tank was hit directly by an advanced anti-tank missile and four were killed on the spot. After the war, the team was awarded a Citation for the courage and bravery they exhibited during the battles and rescues in Lebanon.
Ongoing Security Activity in the Gaza Strip
The brigade took part in actions in the Gaza Strip and it is even credited with wounding and capturing guerillas during the fighting as the 52nd BN participated in numerous operations and hit dozens of guerillas which earned it the Chief of Staff's Award for outstanding unti in 2008. In 2010, the Merkava Siman 4 tanks of the brigade began to be equipped with the 'windbreaker' system. In March of 2011 the system recorded its first interception of an anti-tank rocket that was fired at a tank of the Eshet BN. By the second half of 2012, a 'windbreaker' had been installed on all of the brigade's tanks.
The 401st was the leading armored brigade in the 2014 Operation Tzuk Eitan thanks to its 'windbreaker' active defense system, which protects it against anti-tank missiles and rockets. During the operation, the brigade's forces destroyed numerous enemy targets and injured dozens, with at least 120 killed. The 'windbreaker' system operated successfully and interecepted a number of the anti-tank rockets and missiles fired at the tanks. The Digital Land Army system that was installed in the tanks will significantly improve the battle management of and communications between tanks and the command center as well as with the various elements on the battlfield.
The composition of the brigade is based on armored battalions, some of which have been replaced over the years. In some years, the brigade included an infantry battalion and today the brigade also includes a combat engineering battalion. The main units in the brigade are:
- 46th Sha'lach BN
- 52nd Ha-Bokeem BN
- 9th Eshet BN
- 601st Asaf Combat Engineering BN
- 298th Eyal Communications CO (FALHI"K)
- 785th 401 PALSA"R Reconnaissance CO
- 52nd PALMA"S (support) CO
- 46th PALMA"S (support) CO
- 9th PALMA"S (support) CO
46th Sha'lach Battalion
The battalion was first established as an infantry battalion in the reserves after the War of Independence and took part in the Sinai Campaign. In 1961 it was transferred to the Armored Corps and operated under the 7th Brigade as an AMX-13 tank battalion. In 1965 in was converted to Magach tanks and was the founding battalion of the 401st Brigade. That is how it entered the Six-Day War in which it fought as a reserve Magach battalion under the command of Uri Bar-On. The battalion included three companies under the command of Amnon Giladi, Dan Shani and Shalom Engel (Ein Gal). A fourth company from the Armored Corps School commanded by Amos Katz (commander of the Magach at the KKL ??? NB: this has something to do with the tank commander's course. KKL-JNF ?? קורס קציני השריון course 191 ?? from news article at Yad LaShiryon website describing the graduation in Feb 2018 of a class of new officers). Shalom Engel was the only company in the IDF with 105mm cannons and diesel engines. (NB: The Magach M48 only mounted a 90mm cannon and a gasoline engine so what tank was this? Israel did not receive the M60 until later so this might be M4 that mounted a 105mm howitzer.) The other seven companies (3 in the 401st, and 4 in the 79th BN) all had 90mm cannons and gasoline engines. The battalion fought with the Paratroopers Brigade with 84th Division in the battles of the Rafah Crossing. After the war it was established as a regular battalion under the command of Aryeh Keren and took part in Operation Karameh. During the War of Attrition it operated in the Sinai under the command of Amos Katz and Meshulam Ratts. In the Yom Kippur War is fought in the southern sector of the Suez Canal. The battalion also participated in the First Lebanon War. In 2004 it acquired Merkava Siman 4 tanks and took part in the fighting in the Second Lebanon War among them, the Battle of Saluki. During Operation Tzuk Eitan, the battalion fought in the Beit Hanoun area.
|Gideon Gordon||1963-1965||commanded Iron Chariot Brigade|
|Uri Bar-On||19677||head of Northern Command HQ|
|Amos Katz||1968-1969||future commander of Sinai Formation|
|Meshulam Ratts||1969-1971||awarded Medal of Valor, fell in Yom Kippur War|
|David Shoval||1973-1974||later led Ben Chayil Formation (454th Brigade)|
|Udi Adam||1986-1987||later GOC Northern Command|
|Didi Ben-Yoash||1989-1991||future officer in the Armored Corps during an emergency|
|Halutzi Rudi||1992-1994||later Chief Armor Officer|
|Yitzhak Turgeman||1999-2001||later commander of Ga'ash Formation|
|Elad Rezabi||2005-2007||battalion commander during Second Lebanon War|
|Johnny Cohen||2007-2009||later commander of 600th Brigade|
|Eran Shani||2009-2011||later commander of Steel Chariots Brigade|
|Dudo Songo||2011-2013||currently commands 8th Brigade|
|Tsafrir Maur||2015-2017||current Deputy Commander of 401st Brigade|
52nd HaBokeem Battalion
The battalion was established in March of 1947 and fought in the War of Independence as part of the Givati Brigade, and in recognition for helping to break the siege of Negev by the Egyptian army it was given the name the ha-bokeem/the breachers battalion. During the Sinai War, it operated as an armored infantry battalion in the 7th Brigade, and after the war it was transformed into an armored battalion. During the War of Attrition, the Bar-Lev line was placed under the command of the 14th Brigade.
In the Yom Kippur War the battalion commander was Emmanuel Sakel, and it was located at Ta'azim in the Ras Sudar area in the southern sector of the Egyptian front, at full strength. When the fighting broke out, the battalion was put under the command of the 401st Brigade and Dan Shomron participating in the containment and counter-attack to cross the canal until it stopped at the 101th kilometer; during with it suffered heavy losses. The battalion turned back an Egyptian effort south of the Bitter Lake almost completely destroying an Egyptian armored battalion and came to the aid of a neighboring battalion as part of a brigade attack along the Mitla axis, passing through enemy armored and infantry forces.
During the Second Lebanon War, the battalion participated in the fighting in the central sector of southern Lebanon.
During Operation Tzuk Eitan, the battalion fought under the command of the Givati Brigade. For this the battalion was awarded a Citation by the GOC Southern Command.
|Jacob Perry (Frolov)||later President of Military Appeals Court|
|Joseph Geva||1949-1951||later Military Attache in USA and Canada|
|Aharon Doron||1952-1953||later Head of Personnel Division|
|Shlomo Lahat (Chich)||later a General and Mayor of Tel Aviv|
|Yitzhak Bar-On||August-October 1956|
|Uri Rom||commander during Sinai War|
|Albert Mandler||became a General, killed in the Yom Kippur War|
|Shaul Givoli||later Chief Education Officer|
|Sasson Itzhaki||1965-1967||commander in Six-Day War|
|Amnon Reshef||1967-1969||later Commander of Armored Corps|
|Ran Sarig||1970-1972||commander during War of Attrition, then of Ram Formation|
|Emanuel Sakal||commander during Yom Kippur War, later became commander of Field Forces Command|
|Uzi Ben-Yitzhak||1974-1975||later Commander of Field Training Base and Commander of the Judea Division|
|Uri Agmon||1982||commanded Sinai Formation|
|Sami Turgeman||1992-1994||later GOC Southern Command|
|Boaz Avraham||March 1996-March 1998|
|Yigal Slovik||1999-2001||head of Personnel Division of Ground Forces|
|Zvika Zoran||later Commander of Haifa District of the Home Front|
|Tsahi Segev||commanded battalion during Second Lebanon War after commander injured|
|Guy Kabili||Commander during Second Lebanon War until his injury|
|Ronen Tamim||2010-2012||later commanded Chariots of Iron Brigade|
|Udi Zur||2012-2014||Operations Officer of Southern Command|
|Sagiv Dahan||commander in Operation Tzuk Eitan currently Operations Officer of Judea and Samaria Division|
9th Eshet Battalion
The battalion was established during the War of Independence in the Negev Brigade as a raiding force led by Israel Carmi with two infantry platoons from the brigade. In 1953 it was converted into an Armored Corps unit and fought in the Sinai Campaign with AMX-13 tanks. During the Six-Day War, it fought as an infantry battalion under the command of Merdechai Avigad as part of the 7th Brigade. The company commanders were Yoav Vespi, Uzi Levtzur and Yossi Peled. During the War of Attrition, it fought along the Bar-Lev Line with the 14th Brigade. In 1973 it acquired Patton tanks and fought in the Yom Kippur War in the northern Sinai under the command of Yomtov Tamir. During the fighting 67 of its soldiers were killed. In December of 1980 the battalion was attached to the 211th Brigade in Central Command. When the 211th Brigade was disbanded in 1991, the battalion was moved to the 401st Brigade. In 2005 the unit was equipped with Merkava Siman 4 tanks. It participated in the fighting during the Second Lebanon War.
|Israel Carmi||first commander, later Chief of Military Police|
|Haim Bar-Lev||later became eighth Chief of Staff|
|Arie Shachar (Schwartsman)||later head of Southern Command HQ|
|Uri Rom||later head of Civil Defense|
|Israel Granit||later commander of Iron Chariot Formation|
|Bezalel Amir||later Chief Education Officer|
|Mordechai Tzippori||1963||later Chief Armored Officer|
|Mordechai (Maxi) Avigad||later Defense Attache to West Germany|
|Yaakov Hadar||Feb 1968-Oct 1968||later commander of Bnei Hail Formation|
|Shlomo Arbeli||Oct 1968-Dec 1969||commander during War of Attrition|
|Uriel Rosen||Dec 1969|
|Giora Chaika||1971||commander National Center for Land Training|
|Yom-Tov Tamir||commander during Yom Kippur War and later IDF Attache in England|
|Yiftah Ron-Tal||later Commander of the Ground Forces|
|Agai Yechezkel||1995||later Planning Branch|
|Einav Shalev||later an officer in the Operations Branch of the Central Command|
|Effi Dafrin||commander during Second Lebanon War, later commander 27th Brigade|
|Lior Hochman||later commander of 460th Brigade|
|Ohad Najima||later commander of the brigade|
|Itay Brin||2012-2013||later commander of Ram Formation|
|Ophir Zilberstein||2013-2015||later commander of Harel Brigade|
Like the armored PLASA"R, the role of the reconnaissance company (PLASA"R) is the collection of combat intelligence in enemy territory, in real time and without being detected to lead the armored brigade to the fighting. The unit also carries out infantry tasks, and patrols (both on foot and mounted). As of 2014, the unit has been awarded five citations, most of them during the Second Lebanon War.
War of Attirtion
The unit was first established in 1968 during the War of Attrition. Its primary function was to carry out operations along the Suez Canal, including long-term observation, ambushes and patrols. The training course included infantry training, vehicle: jeep patrol and APC, long-range patrol, topography and navigation, and field intelligence. One of its most prominent commanders at the time was Maj Benny Katzin. At the close of 1972 the unit was disbanded for the first time.
Yom Kippur War
For the Yom Kippur War the brigade was left without a PALSA"R unit. So the 14th Brigade's reconnaissance company was transferred to the 401st Brigade. On the eve of the war, the PALSA"R observed signs of war on the Egyptian side reporting: clearing mines, wearing helmets and command patrols. The unit participated in the difficult containment battles, including the counterattack with the 52nd BN on 6 October. At the same time, the unit deployed a network of observation posts in the southern sector of the Suez Canal to report on enemy forces. On 14 October, during the Battle of Wadi from an observation post established by brigade commander Maj Amichai Buchwal that was opposite the wadi and reinforced by members of Southern Command intelligence came the report of a joint Egyptian attack. The attack moved into the wadi and tried to cross 252nd Division from the south. The brigade's tanks were called to the scene and opened fire destroying many Egyptians and halting the attack. Later the unit participated in the crossing of the canal and reached the 101 kilometer marker on the Suez-Cairo road where it stayed for nearly six months. In the battles of the Yom Kippr War the PALSA"R lost seven, including company commander Maj Nachum Shemer. After the interim agreement and withdrawal from the west bank of the canal, the PALSA"R set a network of long-range observation point in the Tasa area receiving a reserve platoon commander. At the end of 1974, this platoon was also disbanded.
The Fighting in Lebanon
The unit was formed again in 1992 by veterans of the reconnaissance units of the Infantry Corps with the name, PALSA"R 401 (Reserve) in order to meet the need of the IDF to create a path forward for heavy and difficult weapons (such as tanks) into enemy territory, for observation and spotting targets in hostile territory for artillery fire.
The Second Intifada
In April 2002, the unit, in cooperation with the Golani Brigade, participated in the occupation of the Muqata in Ramallah as part of Operation Defensive Shield. Some of the most prominent of the unit's actions was the capture of the killer of Minister Rechavam Ze'evi in Jericho, the capture of Marwan Barghouti (head of the Tanzim) and the taking part in Operation First Aid. In March 2003, the unit's soldiers killed five guerillas in the village of Tamun on their way to carry out an attack on one of the Jordan Valley settlements. For this operation, the unit received an award from the Chief of Staff, Moshe (Bogey) Ya'alon.
In December 2003, the 500th Brigade was disbanded and PALSA"R 500 (regular) was renamed to become PALSA"R 401.
Second Lebanon War
During the Second Lebanon War, under the command of outgoing commander Maj Shlomo Tzan and incoming commander Maj Yossi Penso a member of the Golani Brigade, the unit carries out a large number of actions deep inside enemy territory that included long-range surveillance of a hundred hours or more, as well as raids on villages controlled by Hezbollah. During the battle in Saluki, the PALSA"R fighters rescued the wounded of the 9th BN from their tanks and also transported casualties from the Nahal Brigade. After the war, five of the unit's fighters received medals for their actions during the conflict, including SSG Itai Steinberger who fell in the Battle of Branduria in the eastern sector as he ran to rescue the wounded under fire, and Yotam Shish, commander of the sayeret unit, who received a Chief of Staff's Citation.
Operation Cast Lead
During Operation Cast Lead, the PALSA"R, under the command of Maj Erez Tal, carried out preliminary observations to identify targets for the 401st Brigade, and directed the brigade's forces to their targets. The PALSA"R also carried out raids on explosive factories in the Gaza Strip.
Operation Tzuk Eitan
In Operation Tzuk Eitan the unit operated together with the Nahal Brigade deep in Beit Hanun and Beit Lahiya, raiding houses and searching for tunnels.
Assessment and Selection, and Training
Required Profile - 82 with no disqualifying sections
Assessment - five days (after enlistment) which includes marches, tests for teamwork and motivation. Another option is a week of interviews for those who failed out of volunteer units (tes, Shayetet 13, Sayeret MATKA"L, etc.) (NB: aviation, Naval commando unit, Army special operations, etc.) )
Training - the course to train the soldier in the unit lasts for about 14 months in the IDF.
- Basic Training (4 months) - the warriors of 401 PLASA"R are trained at the Nachal military base with the elite of Shayetet 13. In basic training they learn military routine and discipline, firing weapons, fieldcraft, chemical and bilogical weapons, the values of the IDF, the combat legacy of the unit, physical fitness and improvement, and weapons fire as individuals and squads.
- Advanced Training (3 months) - In advanced training, the soldiers participate in class and company exercises, are trained to fight in built-up areas, and to fight mounted in APCS and in raids. After this unit (7 months) at the end of advanced training, the team graduates to the Yishai Camp, which is the home base of the PLASA"R and where the unit is trained.
- Basic Unit Training (7 months) - For about 7 months, the troops will undergo training to be transformed into PALSA"R scouts. This reconnaissance training includes navigation training, HMMWV training and recognizing land features. The training includes a series of navigational patrols, guided navigations on the HMMWV, a regular patrol course (KS"S קורס סיור סדיר), combat training in built-up areas, camouflage training, training for nuclear biological and chemical weapons, combat fitness tests, travel, raiding and observation exercises and a lot of HMMWV - basic and advanced driving.
At the same time some soldiers leave to take specialized courses: an operational course in driving a HMMWV, a sniper course, a medics course, a course in forced entry (NB: ?? my best guess), and a course in field interrogation. At the end of the course, an Armored PALSA"R 401 combat pin is awarded to the graduates.
The Role of the PALSA"R in Combat
- providing real-time combat intelligence on enemy forces
- routing and moving the forces of the brigade
- detection and identification of chemical warfare agents (CW)
- the location of armor, artillery and air units
- commando raids
|Yoel Ronen||1992-1994||founder of the unit|
|Yaron Finkelman||1999-2001||commander during Second Intifada|
|Noam Lanzini||2001-2003||commander Operation Defensive Shield, occupation of the Muqqata and operation to arrest Marwan Barghouti|
|Gilad Amit||2003-2005||later commander of Samaria Brigade|
|Yossi Panso||2006-2008||commander Second Lebanon War|
|Erez Tal||2008-2009||led during Operation Cast Lead|
|Oren Tzabar||2013-2014||led Operation Shuvu Achim|
|Alexei Rudyanov||July 2014-March 2015||led during Operation Tzuk Eitan|
|Yoav Amir||March 2015-August 2016|
|Shay Suissa||Aug 2016- Sept 2017|
|Eli Malachi||Sept 2017-|
52nd PALMA"S (auxilary company פלוגה מסײעת )
The auxiliary company of the Armored Corps (Armored Auxiliary מסײעת שריון ) is a company whose mission is to assist the tanks and combat forces of the Armore Corps on the battlefield by means of reconnaissance forces, observation forces, and mortar fire. In almost every armored battalion there is an auxiliary company.
The weapons of the auxiliary are: in Shizafon they are trained to use a shortened M-16 as a personal weapon, for the specialists they use the M4 carbine with add-on weapons as needed (grenade launcher, sniper rifle). (NB: having trouble with the term PAKA"LIST פק״ליסט Cannot find any definition for this word but from the context 'specialist' seems a good guess.) In battalion operations it depends on the battalion's budget for add-ons and weapons. The specialties are assisting snipers, launchers, Negev machine gun, driving HMMWVs, driving APCs and combat medic. (NB: What is PAKALI"M an acronym for?? I was able to find what PAKA"L is an acronym for: פק״ל - פקודת קבע ללוחם which has the meaning, command fix warriors, and described as a military expression to describe expertise.)
In the 401st Brigade there are auxiliaries in 52nd BN that completed the course in August 2015 and joined the battalion (the cycle of November 2014).
Among those recruited by the Armored Corps, those with a profile of 82 and above will be assigned to the auxiliary company. The new recruits will undergo basic training at Shizafon that instructs them up to the level of Rifle 05. Basic Training includes rifle training, fieldcraft, determining specialties and combat in the open and in built-up areas up to platoon level. After 4 months of basic training, the recruits begin advanced training where they will be divided into reconnaissance, observation and mortars. Each will undergo slightly different training. The advanced training takes place mostly at the Base at Shizafon and partly in the north, as initially the soldiers in all of the training platoons go through field warfare and navigation. Then their special training begins.
In the reconnaissance unit the troops will be trained as scouts, which includes navigation, camouflage, tracking, scouting routes of advance, sabotage and more. In addition, the platoon is trained to rescue and extract tank crews who are injured during combat. Reconnaissance troops travel in APCs (NAGMA"SH). In the observation platoon, the troops are trained in observation, which also includes navigation and camouflage, observation using binoculars and advanced intelligence, the construction of observation posts and more. The observation platoon is also mounted in APCs. In the mortar platoon, the troops are trained in the use of mortars which includes the operation of advanced command and control systems, firing 81mm and 120mm mortars and fields of fire on the battlefield. The mortars platoon travels in APCs or on foot as needed.
At the end of the training there is more training with the operational company. The 'beret' march of the auxiliary company ranges from 40 to 60 km, the warrior pin is an auxiliary pin is an "zapargul' pin with wings and binoculars for reconnaissance, a sword for observation, and a mortar for the mortars. (NB: the pin is also used by the 460th Training Brigade.)
The Assaf Battalion (601) is a battalion of the Combat Engineers Corps that is assigned to the tank brigade Ikvot Ha-plada/"Tracks of Iron" (401). The battalion includes companies of sappers (aka combat engineers) operating PUM"A heavy engineering armored APCs, and a company that operates D-9 bulldozers, and other bridging equipment. The battalion's role in combat it to create a path for the brigade's tanks through minefields, anti-tank trenches, dirt ramparts and other obstacles. In addition, the battalion also builds firing positions and protective positions for tanks as well as recovering tanks and vehicles damaged or stranded with the assistance of the Ordnance Corps.
Battalion 601 was the first engineering battalion in the IDF and was established in 1947 using the engineering companies of the Golani Brigade, the Givati Brigade and the 7th Brigade. The companies were formed into a regular battalion in 1954. The battalion helped to build the "Snake Path" to Masada. In 1956, the battalion's heavy construction equipment (TSAMA"HA צמ״ה - ציוד מכני הנדסי) company was formed. The battalion has taken an active part in all of Israel's wars. In 1956, the battalion won the Chief of Staff Citation (the first of its kind in the IDF) for Operation Amora, the destruction of Egyptian infrastructure in the Sinai Peninsula. From 1967 to 1969, the battalion worked to build and maintain the Bar-Lev Line of fortifications while under heavy Egyptian shelling. For this action the Engineering Corps won the Israel Defense Prize in 1969. In 1979-1980 following the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt and the return of the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt, the battalion was responsible for the demolition of intelligence, air control and other facilities such as Um Heshiva (NB: Command post, electronic surveillance and warning facility built on Mt Heshiva in the northwest Sinai.) and IB"A 511 (NB: Air Control Unit 511, an Israeli Air Force base in the Sinai located 8km north of the Refidim base.) With the evacuation of the Sinai, the battalion moved to the Jordan Valley with the base located on a dominating hill  above Moshav Gittit. Battalion commander Eli Yitzhaki conceived the name "Camp Assaf" in light of the verse "to win the Gittit for Assaf" (Tehilim 61:1) and it became the battalion's name. (NB: He was probably struck by the similarity between Moshaf Gettit and the Gittit from the Psalm verse (Tehilim is Hebrew for Psalm) but the Google translation is nothing if not cryptic. I entered the line three times asking google to translate and the third was - in order to win the lottery - which I found more than just a little amusing. So you got me stumped as to who Assaf might be, but it is a good story.) In 1982 under Pini Dagan, the battalion played in important role in Operation Peace for the Galilee where it took control of a booby-trapped street filled with the enemy by shooting an 'armored viper'. (NB: An explosive line charge used to clear a path through a minefield. Very similar to the Linear Demolition Charge System used by the US Army.) On 7 October 2000, three soldiers from the unit were kidnapped by Hezbollah on Mount Dov. With the outbreak of the Second Lebanon War in 2006, the Assaf Battalion, led by Amir Olu, was the first engineering force to enter Lebanon with the task of uncovering Hezbollah posts and clearing their weapons sites along the border, some of which included roadside bombs with hundreds of kilograms of explosives. At the start of 21st century the unit was transferred from Central Command to the 401st Brigade. In 2012 the Assaf Battalion was the first to receive the new D-9 bulldozers with improved fourth generation armor. In 2014 the unit took part in Operation Tzuk Eitan, fighting in the Beit Hanoun area under the command of the Nahal Brigade where it destroyed four tunnels.
|Shlomo Aharonishki||commander during Operation Litani, later became 14th Police Commissioner|
|Pini Dagan||1982||commander during First Lebanon War|
|Yossi Rafaelov||later commander of YEHALA"M|
|Yaron Beit-On||later commander of Jordan Valley Brigade and commander and YEHALA"M|
|Amir Olo||2005-2007||led during Second Lebanon War, later YEHALA"M commander|
|Sahar Abergil||later commander of YEHALA"M|
|Ido Mizrachi2010-2012||Later YEHALA"M commander and Commander of the School of Military Engineering|
|Manor Yannai||2012-2014||led during Operation Tzuk Eitan|
|Maoz Salomon||2018-||current commander|
Evolution of the Brigade
- The brigade began with the 46th and 79th Armored Corps BN and the 195th Infantry BN which during the War of Attrition was converted into a tank battalion (Adam BN) and fought with the brigade during the War of Attrition (Commander Yossi Peled) and the Yom Kippur War (Commander Uzi Levatzur and his Deupty Danny Yatom). In 1981 the battalion was transferred to the 500th Brigade which moved to the Jordan Valley.
- In 1967 a signal company was added to the brigade.
- During the Yom Kippur War the 79th BN was transferred to the 14th Brigade and in return it was given the Ha-Bokeem (52nd) BN.
- The 34th BN was established after the Peace for Galilee War using a reserve battalion of soldier consisting of Hesder Yeshiva students who were returned to regular service. In 1988 the battalion was converted into an anti-tank unit and the number was changed to Anti-tank Unit 94 in memory of the Duchifat Battalion. Later it became a HIRMA"K (mechanized infantry) battalion and was transferred to the Kfir Brigade in 2005.
- In 1998, company T was formed as an armored infantry unit. After that, an attempt was made to create an infantry battalion with two regular armored infantry companies.
- In the early 1990s, after 211th Brigade was disbanded, the Eshet Battalion (9), originally a PALMA"CH unit, was transferred to the 401st Brigade.
- In 2006, the Combat Engineering Corps Assaf (601) Battalion was put under the brigade's command.
(NB: Why is this information here and not in the narratives above?? It should be and I see it here as an indication of a "cut-and-paste" writing style that is disjointed and confusing. Above we were told that the 601st BN joined the brigade at the beginning of the 21st Century but here we are told that it happened in 2006. Why is it here and not in the piece about the 601st BN?? This should be a summary of the information presented above and not a place to introduce new information. And none of it is provided with a footnote so indicate where the information was found.)
In 2012 some of the graduates of the 401st Brigade founded an organization called the "Organization of 401 Graduates". The goal of the alumni association is to promote business and volunteer cooperation between the graduates of the unit. The organiation grants scholarships and discounts for entrance exam courses and college entrance tests for discharged soldiers who need financial help. The organization also tries to connect graduates from the brigade with veterans to help and guide with starting a job search in the "Adopt a Graduate" program and also to support business initiatives of 401 Brigade graduates.
|Uri Bar-On||1967-Oct 1968||led during the Six-Day War , later head of Northern Command HQ|
|Sasson Itzhaki||Oct 1968-July 1970|
|Dov Tamari||July 1970-1972||later commander of Pillar of Fire (143 Div)|
|Avraham Rotem||1972-1973||head of Training Dept|
|Dan Shomron||1973-1974||commander during Yom Kippur War, later 13th Chief of Staff|
|Ehud Barak||1974-1975||later 14th Chief of Staff, Minister of Defense and Prime Minister|
|Emanuel Sackel||1975-1977||later commander of Field Forces Command|
|Menachem Einan||1977-1978||later Head of AG"A|
|Hagai Regev||1978-1979||later Military Secretary to Secretary of Defense|
|Yitzhak Rabin||1979-1981||later Chief of Staff|
|Ze'ev Livne||1981-1982||command of Home Front Command and IDF Attache in USA|
|Uzi Levtzur||1982-1983||led during First Lebanon War, later Commissioner for Soldiers'|
|Yitzhak Eshel||1983-1985||commanded Pillar of Fire (143 Div)|
|Moti Paz||1985-1986||commanded Red Division (80 Div)|
|Uzi Dayan||1986-1987||Deputy Chief of Staff|
|Shlomo Yanai||1987-1990||Head of Planning Div|
|Eyal Ben Reuvan||1989-1991||Commander of Military Colleges and member of Knesset|
|Avigdor Klein||1991-1993||officer in the Armored Corps|
|Udi Shani||1993-1994||Head of Communications Division|
|Avi Mizrachi||1994-1996||Head of Central Command|
|Eli Reiter||1998-2000||commander of Ga'ash (36th Div)|
|Guy Tzur||2000-2002||commander of Ground Forces|
|Yaakov Barak||2002-2004||commander of Ground Forces and Head of IDF|
|Motti Khidor||2004-2006||led during Second Lebanon War|
|Yitzhak Turgeman||2006-Mar 2008||Head of IDF|
|Yigal Slovik||Mar 2008-Mar 2010||Head of Human Resources Division at Ground Forces|
|Einav Shalev||Mar 2010-Jul 2012||Head of Land Division|
|Sa'ar Tzur||Jul 2012-AUG 2014||led during Operation Tzuk Eitan, now Commander of IDF|
|Yair Valensky||Aug 2014-Jul 2016|
|Ohad Najma||Jul 2016-||current Brigade Commander|
** Moses Givati, in the Desert and Fire Road - The History of the 9th Battalion, Tel Aviv: Published by "Systems" and Publishing of the Ministry of Defense, 1994. ** Elyashiv Shamshi, Moved Already, Damn !, Modan Publishing, 2011, Chapter Five: Speed in Understanding the Battlefield, Armored Brigade 401, in Defense Battles in the Sinai, 6-7 October 1973, pp. 85-102.
Yael Livnat, 401th Brigade Commander: "Thanks to the means and capabilities of the tank, they can reach deeper and faster," IDF website (through the Internet archive), January 3, 2013 (link is inactive, July 1, 2017) Anshel Pfeffer, reconnaissance company: Nostalgia Patrol, Ha'aretz, May 28, 2009 The armored corps platoons (the link is inactive, July 1, 2017) on the IDF unit website Robi Hamerschlag, documentation: IDF tries the "Ma'aleh Ruach" system on the Channel 10 website, December 7, 2010 (originally from the "nana10" website) Roni Daniel, "The IDF is preparing for the next war," Channel 2 News, December 17, 2010 Yoav Zeitun, IDF celebrates history: "Windbreaker" answers Nasrallah, March 1, 2011 Lilach Shoval, "401 is the world's protected division," on Israel Today website Video clip anthem section 401 on youtube site The graduates' website - 401 graduates. Ron Ben Yishai, Hi-Tank: With the renewed armor that will fight Hezbollah, March 1, 2013. Video file August 1, 2013: "Without infantry tanks, you do not want to move," Yad Armion and Israel today Ben Caspit, the stars of "Tzuk Eitan": Thus the tanks broke Hamas' terrorist infrastructure on Maariv this week, August 22, 2014 The website of the 46th Battalion during the Yom Kippur War Running as a deer and a hero as a lion, a movie on the IDF's YouTube channel, April 9, 2015 Videos Battalion 79 of the 401th Brigade in the War of Attrition, at the Armored Corps site Uzi Levtzur, Successful - Battles in the West Bank to the Zone of Success, Armored Corps, 44 (description of the battles of the 401th Brigade in the second half of the Yom Kippur War), September 2013, pp. 127-120,  Video clip of the 401th Brigade in the new IDF website Gnome-emblem-photos.svg Pictures from operational employment 2017, the new IDF website Video clip Yuval of Strength, Determination and Evil: Armored Corps 401 Celebrates 50 Years Since Its Establishment, IDF Website, August 15, 2017 Ofer Aderet, The Forgotten Story of the Fighters Destroyed by an Egyptian Brigade in 1973, Published at the Ha'aretz Website, September 29, 2017 Yossi Melman, the missing battalion: The fighters who lost 67 of their friends and were pushed out of the history books, on Maariv this week, October 2, 2017 Battalion 601 Combat Engineering "Assaf" Stone No. 10: Assaf Battalion 601, on the website of the Combat Engineering Corps Assaf Battalion 601, on the website of the Combat Engineering Corps The Assaf Battalion, on the Armored Corps site Video file Video clip 601, YouTube
War of Attrition, on the 401th Brigade, Armored Corps site About the 401th Brigade at the Armored Corps site Elyashiv Shamshi, come on, damn it! On Speed in the Battlefield, Publishing Systems, 2011, pp. 94-97 Hanan Greenberg, the second time a battalion commander was injured in the Armored Corps, Ynet website, August 13, 2006. - Major Benya Rein, Major General Medal, on the site of heroism Sergeant Alex Bonimovich, Honorary Major General, on the site of heroism Staff Sergeant Adam Goren The Honorable Major General, on the site of heroism Staff Sergeant Uri Grossman Amir Buhbut, when Golani applauded the armored corps, on the NRG website, August 17, 2007. Roi Sharon, "Everyone is initiating, striving for contact and wanting to fight," on NRG website, April 5, 2008. Battalion 46 - Shilo, at the Armored Corps site The 52st Battalion, which was set up at the Armored Corps site Yishai Karev, the Pioneer Regiment will receive the Citation of the Major General on the Channel 7 website, February 2, 2015 Yossi Melman: "The soldiers of the missing battalion from the Yom Kippur War are being exposed," Maariv website, 01 October 2017 Moshe Givati, The Way of the Desert and the Fire - The History of the 9th Battalion, published by the Security System and Systems, 1994, p. 434 Yiftach Carmeli, for the first time: PLASR 401 held a special training program for fighting in the Gaza Strip, IDF website (via the Internet archive), May 7, 2015 (link is inactive, July 1, 2017) 32 ° 06'12 "N 35 ° 24'14" E 401 Graduates Association website I swear to you, Avigdor Kahalani interviews commanders who fought in the Six Day War on the 40th anniversary of the war, Army Radio  (link is inactive, 11.8.2012)