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The Armored Corps is the decisive corps in GOC Army Headquarters, and bases its power on a combination of mobility, armor, and firepower. During wars, its primary role on the one hand, to lead the first line of the attacking forces and to clear the area of the enemy. Secondarily, it blocks the armor forces of the enemy and seeks to destroy its tanks and armor. During peacetime, it reinforces the Infantry Corps while it performs security tasks, with the tanks serving as a mobile bunker.
The active units of the Armored Corps consist of the following brigades.
36th Armor Division Also known as the Ga'ash Formation, is the largest armored division in the IDF, and also includes Engineering Corps soldiers who are attached to it. It is stationed on the Golan Heights under Northern Command. It is currently commanded by Brigadier-General Tamir Haiman. It includes the 7th and 188th Armor Brigades.
Also known as the Sa'ar ("Storm") Formation, this is a regular armored brigade subordinate to Northern Command. It was the first armor brigade of the IDF and has participated in all of Israel's wars. The brigade’s fighting during the Suez War resulted in a breakthrough in how the army approached the character of armor warfare. As of 2014[update], the brigade is transitioning from Mark 2 Merkava tanks to Merkava 4 tanks.
Also known as the Barak ("Lightning") Formation, it is a regular armored brigade subordinate to Northern Command. Beginning with the Six Day War, the brigade participated in all of Israel’s wars. During the Yom Kippur War, the brigade was the first line of defense in the first days of the war at the Southern Golan, and saw almost all of its officers killed in action. It was the last armor brigade to use the Centurion tank, converting to Merkava 3 tanks in 1992.
Also known as the Ikvot HaBarzel ("Tracks of Iron") Formation, this is an armored brigade created in 1968 in order to control the Suez Canal line. During the Yom Kippur War, it faced the first line of attack in the canal and suffered heavy losses. During the 1982 Lebanon War, it fought in the Southern force and one of its battalions participated in the Sultan Yaakov battle. During 2004–05, the brigade's Magach tanks were replaced by Mark 4 Merkava tanks.
Also known as the Bnei Or ("Sons of Light") Formation, this is the training brigade of the Armored Corps. It maintains two bases: the Shizafon training base—the school for the corps' commanders, where the officers and tank commanders are instructed—and Camp Magen-Sayarim, the Armored Corps school, where basic and continued training is undertaken, preparing armor combatants toward the operational brigades.
Also known as Harel Brigade. The brigade was established on 16 April 1948 as a division of the Palmach, immediately after Operation Nachshon.
Yitzhak Rabin was appointed as its first commander. During the Suez Crisis (Kadesh Operation) in 1956, the brigade fought as an infantry brigade commanded by Shmuel Gudar. In 1959, the brigade was made into a reserve unit of the Armored Corps. In the Six Day War, the brigade fought on the battles for Jerusalem under the command of Uri Ben Ari.
Today the brigade is part of Uzvat Amud ha-Esh ("Pillar of Fire").
14th Armored Brigade
The brigade was active during the War of Attrition when it split to provide the basis for the 401st Armoured Brigade. During the Yom Kippur War, it was initially an armored reserve supporting the infantry brigades holding the Bar-Lev Line. It suffered terrible casualties during the war but was rebuilt afterwards.
Also known as the Yishai (acronym for "Guardians of Jerusalem Unit"), during the Lebanon War of 1982, it was famously led by Colonel Eli Geva, who during the Siege of Beirut refused to lead his soldiers into the city for moral reasons. He was dismissed from the army, and the brigade itself was dissolved in the early 1990s.
This is a reserve brigade also known as Merkavot HaPlada (Steel Chariots), equipped with Mark 2 Merkava tanks. Up to the year 2000 the main equipment was old Magach tanks. Recently, the brigade took part in the 2006 Lebanon War, most notably in the Battle of Bint Jbeil and battle of Yaroun, in the war the brigade eliminated approximately 60 Hezbollah fighters.
Also known as the Kfir ("Young Lion") Formation, this was a regular armor brigade which operated from 1972 until 2003. During the Yom Kippur War, it participated in the Battle of Suez. During the Lebanon War of 1982, it fought in the framework of the Eastern force and participated in the Eyn Zhalata battle. In 2003, due to changes in the IDF structure, and the lessening of the threat from the eastern front (due to the USA war in Iraq) the brigade was dissolved.