The Israel Defense Forces has announced plans to reintroduce the operational deployment of reserve units in the Gaza sector within the next few months. Reserve soldiers in the Gaza Brigade will be deployed in the sector to relieve regular soldiers from the Infantry Corps’ Givati Brigade.
The Gaza sector is considered one of the military’s most active theaters [Illustrative] – Photo: Gideon Markowitz
The decision, made public on Monday, follows the IDF’s revision of its overall training plans as a result of cuts in the 2014 defense budget.
Because of the revision, many battalions in the Givati Brigade serve in the Gaza sector for nine months, instead of the customary three or four, raising concerns in the IDF that the troops may be exhausted.
As a result, the IDF decided that when a Givati battalion leaves the sector for a routine, three-week training session, one of the Gaza Brigade reserve battalions, which are mostly made up of former Givati soldiers, will be deployed in its place.
IDF sources said the GOC Southern Command had given much thought to the decision, given that overall reservists’ training suffered compared to the training offered to regular soldiers. The decision to introduce reservists back into the sector gradually is part of the military’s efforts to minimize the risk to them.
“These are brigade reservists, so this is their mission now and in times of emergency,” a senior Gaza Brigade officer said on Monday.
“They manned the sector during Operation Pillar of Defense [in 2012] as well, and they tackled operational incidents. Having a regular unit deployed there for only three weeks would pose the same challenges, because some of those units’ commanders have little experience in the sector.
“The regular units’ learning curve is just as complex as the reserves’ and having reservists who have served here before actually makes it easier, as proved in Operation Pillar of Defense.”
Although that operation has resulted in unprecedented calm in the Gaza sector, it is still considered one of the military’s most active theaters.
Deployment in the sector has become a badge of honor for the IDF’s infantry brigades, which, according to IDF sources, are eager to be deployed there. Most recently, the Nahal Brigade, which has never been deployed in the Gaza sector, has been campaigning for its turn.