188th Armored Brigade

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Barak Armor Brigade
Barak Brigade insignia.svg
Insignia for Barak Brigade
Active 1948-
Country Israel
Branch Army
Type Armor
Part of Northern Command
Engagements Operation Hiram, Yom Kippur (1973)

The 188th "Barak" (Lightning) Armored Brigade is an Israeli armored brigade, subordinate to Israel's Northern Regional Command. The emblem of the Barak Armored Brigade is a red-bordered rhombus bearing a sword against a blue and white background depicting the Haifa coastline. The brigade has a long history beginning before the foundation of the State of Israel.

In the mid-1990s the brigade was the first to adopt the Merkava mark-III main battle tank, phasing out its older Centurion tanks.

History[edit]

A tank during a training day held in the Golan Heights for the 188th Armored Brigade
Emblem of the Carmeli Brigade
A Merkava Mk.3 company in training, northern Israel.

The brigade was formed as the 2nd Brigade during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, when it was split off from the Levanoni Brigade. Named the Carmeli Brigade because it was led by Moshe Carmel, the brigade was an infantry formation operating in northern Palestine. It played an important part in Operation Hiram. After the IDF was formed, the Carmeli Brigade became its 18th Brigade.

During the Sinai Campaign of 1956, the brigade was stationed along the Jordanian border, in case the Jordanians decided to open a second front, and was thus not involved in combat. It was shortly later assigned armored units to become the 45th Armored Brigade, also known as the "Barak Armored Brigade". It consisted of one tank battalion, two armored infantry battalions, a mortar battalion and reconnaissance units. The changeover was completed in 1962.

During the Yom Kippur War, it played an important role defending Israel's border against the Syrian attack in the southern Golan Heights. 112 soldiers were killed in action, including the brigade commander. The brigade was almost completely destroyed. The main Syrian attack at 14:30-14:50 PM, confronted by the newly positioned 74th Tank Battalion, under the command of Lt.Col. Yair Nafshi. Nafshi moved his battalion position 1.5 km forward from its previous defensive position, a maneuver that saved his men and machines from the Syrian artillery barrage. His was the only remaining tank force, equipped with 36 Israeli modified Centurion tanks to fight the Syrians for 3 continuous days, until enforcements and reserves were moved into positions. His battalion was reinforced with a tanks company from the 53rd battalion. After 4 days of fighting, his battalion was reduced to 5 operational tanks. More than 102 soldiers and officers died defending the southern Golan Line, from reinforced points (bunkers) 107 to 114. For his gallant, professional and courageous behavior during the war, Yair Nafshi received Israel's second highest decoration, the Medal of Valor. He retired from the army with the rank of Brigadier General.

During the battle, Lieutenant Zvika Greengold, who had arrived unattached to any unit, fought off attacks with his single tank until help arrived. "For the next 20 hours, Zvika Force, as he came to be known on the radio net, fought running battles with Syrian tanks—sometimes alone, sometimes as part of a larger unit, changing tanks half a dozen times as they were knocked out. He was wounded and burned but stayed in action and repeatedly showed up at critical moments from an unexpected direction to change the course of a skirmish."[1]

After the war, the task of rebuilding the brigade was assigned to Yonatan Netanyahu. In the 1982 Lebanon War, it fought in Beirut and participated in the capture of the local airport.

Units[edit]

  • 53rd "Sufa" (Storm) Armor Battalion (Merkava Mk.3)
  • 71st "Reshef" (Spark) Armor Battalion (Merkava Mk.3)
  • 74th "Saar" (Tempest) Armor Battalion (Merkava Mk.3)
  • 605th "ha-Mahatz" (The Crush) Armored Engineer Battalion
  • Sayeret 188 Armored Reconnaissance Company
  • Anti-Tank Guided Missile Company

List of Carmeli Brigade operations in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war[edit]

List of villages and town battles the Carmeli Brigade fought[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Shattered Heights: Part 1," Jerusalem Post, September 25, 1998 (accessed June 9, 2005).

External links[edit]