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Interview with IDF Kashnar Brigadier General Ohad Nejama

The Outgoing Chief Armor Officer Reveals: The Corps Has A Classified Unit That Deals With Locating And Engaging  The Enemy

Brigadier General Najama speaks for the first time about the classified formation that operated in the “Guardian of the Walls” and expands on the improved exposure capabilities, the upgraded protection and the high readiness. He talks about the issue of armor, and the involvement of the corps in the next war with Hezbollah. “The armor is both advanced, and ready, He is a strong force”

Amir Bohbot


Translated from Hebrew  Original Link

Just before Chief Armor Officer Brigadier General Ohad Najama entered the office, the encrypted phone in his possession rang and over the line the commander of a classified unit of the Armored Corps reported that he was deploying forces in the Gaza Division against the backdrop of high alert and fear of anti-tank fire by Islamic Jihad units at civilians and IDF soldiers. He will soon complete thirty years of service in the IDF, most of them in a tank. His story is the story of the entire corps. Not everyone wants to reach it, but from the moment you enter the ranks of the corps, it’s hard to say goodbye to it.

He even wanted to be a paratrooper and fought for it, but his profile dropped. He arrived against his will in Shizphon, became a tank commander, fought in the security belt, in the second intifada, in the second Lebanon war, with cast lead and a solid cliff, and to make the story complete, he received command of the armored corps two years ago.

About the differences in ground warfare with and without a tank, this week a very experienced infantry officer in the training of the Northern Command for the war against Hezbollah said: “When you are under pressure of time to reach the target and there is a vigilance in front of an enemy aiming a sniper rifle and launching missiles at you, and suddenly you hear the growl of a tank’s engine The chariot, its caterpillar touching the ground and breaking stones, and that sharp sound that penetrates the body, you feel much safer. Fighting with a tank is fighting from another world.”

“My greatest pride? That the armored forces, including the classified unit, arrived on time.” Brigadier General Ohad Najama (photo: official website, IDF spokesman)

The last three years have been very busy for the tanks of the Armored Corps. According to IDF data, about 800 shells were fired by the tanks in operational activity at hundreds of different targets. In Operation Shumer Homot, in May 2021, about 345 shells were fired at dozens of targets. The average percentage of hits in a series of shots is around 95%. In Operation Dawn Islamic Jihad targets and operatives were attacked, and five terrorists were thwarted. IDF data shows that the success rate in hitting is over 90%.

Operation Wall Guard in May last year was a turning point for the Armored Corps. While the Air Force flaunted its airstrikes and the ground fighters were photographed wearing ski masks in and around the settlements and operated drones, operating from the woods and behind mounds of dirt in the Gaza Division, the chariot tanks and among them a classified unit of the Armored Corps.

“My great pride? That the armored forces, including the classified unit, arrived on time, went up to the positions, shot, hit and opened fire,” said Najama in an exclusive interview with Walla, “with all the frustration we wanted to enter (Gaza AB) and this is a legitimate decision not to do this move. We had a high level of readiness, the systems worked 100%, coordination of fire aims, everything hit. It’s not for nothing that two armored units received certificates of appreciation after the operation. We hit 72 targets at the end of which there is a terrorist. We fired 1,900 shells. There were about fifty closures of my circles fire”.

But the change that the Armored Corps has undergone in the last two years is not only reflected in the operating methods, the quality of the active protection (wind jacket) that has been upgraded, the scope and accuracy of the armaments and the rate of fire, but the exposure capabilities of the enemy defined by the land arm as the classified operations of the Armored Corps.

“Today there is a classified unit in the Armored Corps,” explained a chief armor officer. “As soon as the tank crew and the classified force locate the enemy, they can hit him with a variety of weapons or transmit the information to units on the ground or in the air. The operational process was tried with great success in Operation Wall Guard. The only event that raised criticism against the ground forces was on the issue of fraud, during which tanks and tanks arrived.” Put on the fence line in the Gaza Strip to convince the terrorist organizations.”

“You shoot a piece of wood into a building… you destroy it. It’s a deadly tool.” Brigadier General Ohad Najama in the field (photo: official website, IDF spokesman)

After Operation Wall Guard, when the specific weight of the tanks became apparent to the senior command, in the combination of the advanced technology that reveals the enemy’s location with the ability to close the circles of fire that were shortened (revealing the enemy’s location, transferring the information to the attacking force, shooting and hitting), it was decided to assign tasks to the armored forces in the campaign between the wars. In the last two years, the armored forces have taken on a double-digit number of infrastructure destruction missions on the Syrian border that were intended to serve the military activity of Hezbollah and Iran in Syrian territory.
“The shooting capabilities, the impact, the accuracy… you fire a shell (shell, AB) into a building… you destroy it. It’s a deadly weapon,” Brigadier General Najama referred to the use of armor in the campaign between the wars to thwart the intentions of Iran and Hezbollah in Syria, ” It’s a complete process that includes models in advance, an orderly battle procedure, arriving at the location, and carrying out the mission.”

The priority of the armored corps is the Lebanese front. The fear is of terrorist groups of Hezbollah that have infiltrated the settlements and outposts, therefore as usual there are tanks scattered along the entire border. “The tank is mobile, fast and accurate for defense. With its technology, it also knows how to locate the enemy and attack,” the Kashnar explained, adding, “Our second required achievement is to arrive with large forces at the border and start maneuvering. We have several reserve and regular brigades that know how to reach the border in a few hours and go kilometers ahead (into enemy territory, A.B.) in order to provide security space.

” and the control of the enemy, in the rocket, missile and mortar bomb sites and in his special formations located in the heart of the population and in fortified sites above and below the surface of the ground.

So what will the next war look like? What will be the location of the tank?

“In the past, there was a lot of talk about movement, mobility, protection, and lethality. That’s a thing of the past. Now we’re talking about connectivity. The way the tank connects to the other forces in the area and transmits information (targets) to it. You’re also there when exposing the enemy. Our special formation brings the enemy’s exposure . There is still a person at the end who calculates all the information and processes all the sensors. This is an important tool in the war.”

It is impossible to avoid the question about the disruption of the traffic routes, especially after what happened in the Wall Guard operation when routes were blocked and the tanks were supposed to move on carriers from south to north and vice versa. What will happen in the next war?

“We are preparing for this scenario. Also in the fire train exercise, we practiced movement on the map of alternative axes with an emphasis on the northern arena. These axes allow various vehicles, including tank carriers, to move from place to place efficiently and quickly in emergency situations. In addition, we practice traveling on axes and roads.”

“It’s no longer a tank and a cannon, but a sensor machine.” Chief armor officer (photo: official website, IDF spokesperson)

How do you define the “Barak” tank that is undergoing trials and will enter operational service in the summer of 2023?

“It’s no longer a tank and a cannon, but a sensor machine. Me and Yoel (Colonel Yoel Strick A.B.) called it an “assault exposure machine”. Its sensors put together a picture. We’ve long since moved from scanning to investigation. It investigates the area and builds a completely different picture of the enemy and the information This through the connectivity you can transmit to everyone. Either attack or direct forces. They will also fight with closed shelves without sticking their heads out of the tank to see and then they will not be exposed to sniper fire. In the summer of 23 there will be a first lightning tank company in the 401st brigade.”

During the Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah managed to hit the armored columns that were moving in the Saluki Wadi using a large number of the most advanced anti-tank missiles in the world. What will a crossing of the Saluki look like in the Third Lebanon War?

“He will see differently thanks to our exposure system. The defenses. The defense is an attack. We will reveal all of it in the future, but from what we can tell the ‘wind jacket’ type defense system greatly improves our attack. It makes the attack much more accurate and at an early stage. There are those who fantasize about so that the team will shoot at the enemy even before he launches the missile at the tank. Already now the tank knows how to close in on the enemy very quickly before he goes away and hits him. The accuracy is better for technological reasons. Except for the word fire? Everything is automatic. There are quite a few improvements. Like automatic loading of a windbreaker.

And still most of the reserve forces in armor are based on Merkava Mark 3 tanks while the regular rides on Merkava Mark 4 tanks.

“That’s right. Mark 3 Falcon is still a tank compared to all of them. He has a ShoB. Except for defenses? He has everything. There is no more Mark 2. When the lightning comes in, the next Mark 4 reserve brigade will be formed in reserve.”

So how do you explain the situation that despite the technological changes, the importance attached by the top of the IDF to tanks, including in the field, the Armored Corps still has problems with motivation before enlistment. Why do they prefer running on the hills than maneuvering a tank protected against missiles with a firepower comparable to an infantry company?

“Admittedly, it’s challenging. It’s challenging to tell the story. Today the media has everything but you don’t know anything yet (alluding to the classified unit that has not been fully disclosed so far AB). In 2019 I took up the position I would have met 18-19 teams in the battalion. Today? Except A low peak in Division 401 as a result of a planning problem (they did not correctly calculate the end of service of members of the Yeshivas of the Seder AB)… we have an average of 24-25 teams. Today we are in the area of ​​0.65-0.75 competing for every place (for comparison: in the Golani it ranges around The 4 are candidates for any place). In the past we were at 0.3 and I’m still not satisfied. But let’s tell the whole story. When you come today for preparation at BHD 1, there are 43 beds waiting for the cadets of the Armored Corps, because that’s what I need. I have 74 soldiers who wanted to be officers. After sorting we have 65 in preparation. Think what motivation the officer has. That’s why it’s like magic. How do you take a force… whose motivation is 0.7 everywhere and… how do the commanders bring the motivation to such a situation. The Armored Corps today is the corps with the lowest eagle. Check me out with the HR people. Better than Golani. Four department commanders when I was a general are today company commanders. It’s a feeling of pride. Four MPs from my time as a general will be generals next year. The recruitment process is challenging but once they arrive at the armory there is stability and more than that. There is also the quality of commanders.”

“Four MPs from my time as a brigadier general will be general officers next year. It’s a feeling of pride” (photo: official website, IDF spokesperson)
Did you decide to change something to get other results in motivation before recruitment?

“The conditions of service. What do they wear? New overalls. The soldier will have better uniforms. A vest adapted to the tank. A complete response to the Armored Corps. Think about how he lives, exit conditions. They have 25 teams in operational employment. This allows the Majd to take out more soldiers For vacations, more for medical referrals. We are thinking about a new branding. Maybe change a pin, a badge, change names for the role of a gunner. The Italians, for example, call the tank driver ‘the pilot of the tank’. We have a systemic plan. For example, in preparation for the upcoming recruitment in August, we received a file of names. 75% want armor. It’s beautiful.”

There is talk of moving to three crew members in the tank because of the tank’s high computing capabilities and advanced technology?

“We will not move to three crew members. That may be future. To the next platform. We are talking about controlling a BRK (armored combat vehicle) with fewer crew members, but not in the foreseeable time frame. An unmanned tank with a manned tank? we are there Think that robots are coming out of rockets. Not just drones… maybe the next platform won’t be a tank.”

In the last year, the IDF has been dealing with armored vehicles. You are on the verge of further recommendations on the subject to the Chief of Staff.

“The pilot is happening. There is already a company that is flying, with training, fighters and command, we are preparing to present this thing.”

Can you share on a personal level what do you think?

“On the professional level, they do a good job and are competent, and we as a corps sample them every few months, and they prepare for it, and they show a high professional level. I think it should be given more time, because the attrition begins, matters of long lines begin, motivation for recruitment, that is I think it’s definitely in a good and correct professional direction, we have no injuries. To be fair, it doesn’t have an aggressive marketing process. At the moment it’s in border protection, they advertise it there, there’s a company at the Egyptian border, and it’s maturing. It’s qualified, it works, it still needs To go through a maturation process, for example of the battle procedure, understanding abilities, operational friction. Will we do aggressive actions here and there to please someone? I’m not there.”

So why did you take the first armored car to the officers’ course?

“I think that this company should at some point say goodbye to the tankist MP. Today, the MP there is a son. I want there to be an MPA there and a MPA there in my opinion in this capacity. I think this project is currently in a positive direction. I think we need a second more time. The next step? Institutionalize the training.

Ending a chapter in his life. Brigadier General Ohad Najama (photo: official website, IDF spokesman)
What did the war between Ukraine and Russia teach you about armor?

“It teaches us that maneuvering into the depths requires RCM (tanks and APCs) and not on foot. That the artillery and RUM close to the ground and the ability to close circles of fire towards us and also us towards the enemy is an event that must be continued. Many of the Russian casualties are as a result of the closing of artillery circles by the Ukrainians Everything there is anti-tank missiles. A lot of artillery. I always tell the commanders in the regimental and company exercises, imagine that there is a drone above you, day and night. I leave with the understanding that there is always a camera above them. All the time. I tell them, ‘Be prepared for an artillery attack and when you think you’re surprised, it’s not always like that.'” Is

there another lesson that stands out?

“The Russians worked contrary to their doctrine. They traveled single-soldier and not multi-soldiered. Any small encounter paralyzed them. They did not have an infantry platoon near them (contrary to the IDF’s view). They did not use artillery. Their long convoys were Very, very vulnerable. In micro-tactics? When they are close, crowded, with PKL Kenin all in the same place, without infantry, armor, engineering, then what wonder is it that you mount charges? That is why it only strengthened us in Rabbi Hilyot’s insight and strengthened us as well In a defensive matter understand that above us there is always a drone that sees everything. What if there is a squadron of drones? So you will fire mortars and fire artillery. The world understands the same thing.

“You participated in the fire crossing exercises. You saw with your own eyes how our armored tanks are linked with each other and the other forces. They break the way. They are the advance battle and after them infantry forces are brought to clear the complex places. In my opinion, this logic will be preserved and it will only get stronger, because the tank was more protected, faster, more connected and more closed circles of fire. Ukraine changed the maneuver. The need to have platforms like the tank and the APC has intensified. I recently told the Italians that it takes at least five years to restore competence in a brigade that was dismantled. Everyone focuses on the pictures of the Ukrainian attacks on the Russian armor and what they are stopping, but forget that the Russians have advanced 150 km. We mustn’t forget that part of their doctrine includes that when it’s over, they leave the tank. It’s no coincidence that you see abandoned tanks being towed by Ukrainian tractors.”
In video: activity of armored forces (IDF spokesman)
The senior armorer, the hero of the Yom Kippur War, Major General Yitzhak Barik is full of criticism of the IDF and the ground forces. Did you talk to him?

“I talked to Barik. There is nothing to compare between what we had in 2006 and today. I can tell you exactly what the state of service is in each military unit and in each division. Even a division that today is in a low state of service, I know why and which brake pumps it lacks. I tell you that the situation is good. And I also know what they trained for. Three-day and one-day. A soldier (in the AB reserves) touches a tank once a year. It was the order of the Chief of Staff. I was with him in the 252nd division and with the head of the ATL. In the 10th and 14th brigades. This is not a sharp division. I opened boxes, good boxes.

“The situation in the branch divisions? I think it’s very good. Brik talks to him about the professional issue, about the tour. We listen to Brik. I take what he says seriously, but I think the gap he’s talking about… I don’t see the same thing. I believe more than him in competence And in the training of the people. I think what he understands about tank competence, in mark 4, survivability, defenses – it’s a little different.. I really appreciate and respect him but I think the perspectives of looking, and the resolutions are different. We made changes in training to strengthen the command, and then there was I have a high-quality arrowhead for command. We also have a designated falcon course for officers, a department whose X-factor is expertise in rifles, operational experience, high-quality command. There is a hover course for dropouts from a general patrol and special units. We tell them: “Come be commanders, don’t be an ordinary soldier – and they come and become officers.” In the end, there is a complete understanding in the army from top to bottom that when there is an event, there is no such thing without tanks.”

In the last exercise in Cyprus, the IDF practiced fighting in southern Lebanon. I didn’t see any tanks there. Does that mean there will be a vertical encirclement without tanks?

” (he smiles). The 53rd Battalion was there with vehicles disembarking from the landings. A vehicle that simulates a tank. Do I need to say more than that? In every operation that has a ground force, the Armored Corps is involved in it.”

That’s it. You are ending a chapter in your life. How do you conclude the period?

“This is a special status for me – the end of the position of chief armor officer, but also the end of my service in the IDF. In the military and public discourse, the question of realizing land and maneuver capabilities is constantly floating around. After almost 30 years of service on land, I have no doubt about two things: one, when the State of Israel is forced into a war there is no choice, when hundreds of missiles land in the rear, the maneuver will certainly be imposed. The second, the land is stronger today than ever, in integration, capabilities, people, training and more. Under these two certainties we must focus on readiness and innovation so that when the maneuver is assigned it will be the most prepared and the most advanced. In this context, the Armored Corps, with its divisions and battalions, is both advanced and ready. He is a strong force exclamation mark!”.