In recent days, we have often heard the phrase “brigade combat team” in news reports. For example, we have heard that the Givati brigade combat team captured the Hamas “security district” — in the center of Gaza City....
What does this term “brigade combat team” mean and how does it differ from the familiar term “division”?
Any brigade in the IDF is as a rule staffed with infantry or armored units. “Givati” is, as we know, an infantry brigade. When a brigade is reinforced with additional forces — tank battalions, engineer units, artillery batteries or divisions — and all come under a common command, it is called a “brigade combat team.”
The major changes in the IDF in favor of fighting in such combined combat teams (something called “fighting with combined forces”) began immediately after the Yom Kippur War. In that difficult war, it became clear that no combat formation was capable of fighting on its own.
On the southern front, for example, during the Yom Kippur war, after the Egyptians forced the Suez Canal, they were attacked by hundreds of tanks from our 252nd Division (yes, the same division that is now fighting in the Gaza Strip). However, our tanks had to confront a barrage of thousands of anti-tank rockets and RPGs, skillfully used by Egyptian infantry and special forces, who were also supported by heavy artillery fire and anti-tank guns, as well as Egyptian army tanks. About 200 of the 300 tanks of the 252nd Division were damaged and hundreds of fighters were killed and wounded, may the Almighty avenge their blood.
The lesson from the war was memorized precisely — tanks cannot advance safely, without artillery cover (as is now happening in Gaza — what is called a “rolling firewall,” or pre-emptive “softening”), and without infantry forces moving with them and eliminating enemy infantry forces.
On the other hand, infantry forces on their own are also unable to achieve their objectives without the support of well-defended armored forces.
Additionally, in order to ensure successful action of all forces — against charges, mines, traps, as well as in order to better maneuver on the battlefield in the presence of obstacles, it is necessary that engineering teams also take part in the battle. Of course, this becomes particularly relevant considering the massive threat of tunnels, which have now become an integral component of combat threats in both Gaza and Lebanon.
Therefore, a combat team in the IDF is a combination of infantry, tank, engineer and artillery units. In addition, in the current military operation “Swords of Iron”, our ground forces also receive direct support from the air — from attack helicopters and airplanes, as well as from various unmanned aerial vehicles (conducting reconnaissance and attacking enemy targets).
Furthermore, this war was our first war in which naval forces were also under the direct command of a ground army. Each maneuvering division (the IDF now uses at least three divisions in Gaza) was given missile boats under its command and additional naval forces (including naval commando units) to provide support with accurate and deadly fire from the sea.
The consolidation of all of these forces, each of them working together with the others, compensating the weaknesses of the others and reinforcing the overall advantages, has been the fundamental basis for the achievement of effective advances and victories in this war.
We are confident that this approach is also important in other areas, not just military. The most important lesson, the way we see it, is that our strength is in our unity. Only by bringing all of us together, each with our individual strengths and merits, is it possible to maximize the goodness and importance of the people of Israel in all areas.
Everyone has special qualities and virtues, they are numerous, they are wonderful, and they are all gifts from G-d. However, only if we act together, in solidarity, out of love for Israel, are we able to multiply our personal qualities and merits and maximize their benefits for all.
Together — in love and unity — we will achieve victory!