Armor Corps (Israel)

Armor Corps (Israel)

The Israeli Armor Corps is a corps of the Israel Defense Forces, since 1998 subordinate to GOC Army Headquarters. The Armor Corps is the principal maneuvering corps, and primarily bases its strength on Main Battle Tanks.

The Armor Corps is the decisive corps in GOC Army Headquarters, and bases its "crushing power" on its "fists of steel": a combination of mobility, armor, and firepower. During wars, its role is, on the one hand, to lead the first line of the attacking forces and to clear the area of the enemy, while on the other hand, to block the armor forces of the enemy and 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.

Active units

The active units of the Armor Corps consist of the following brigades.

=36th Division=

Also known as the "Ga'ash" Formation, is the largest armor division in the IDF, and also includes Engineering Corps soldiers who are attached to it. It is stationed on the Golan Heights under the Northern Command. It is currently commanded by Brigadier-General Sami Turgeman. It includes the 7th and 188th Brigades.

= 7th Brigade=

:Also known as the "Sa'ar" ("Storm") Formation, this is a regular armor brigade which is placed under the command of the Northern Command. It is 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. Today, the brigade is equipped with Mark 2 Merkava tanks.

=188th Brigade=

:Also known as the Barak ("Lightning") Formation, it is a regular armor brigade which is placed under the command of the Northern Command. Starting 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 day 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, converted into Merkava 3 tanks in 1992.

=162nd Division=

Also known as the "Utzvat HaBarzel" Formation, this is an armor division which is placed under the Central Command.

=401st Brigade=

:Also known as the "Ikvot HaBarzel" ("Tracks of Iron") Formation, this is an armor 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 2004-2005, the brigade’s Magach tanks were replaced by Mark 4 Merkava tanks.

=460th Brigade=

:Also known as the "Bnei Or" ("Sons of Light") Formation, this is the training brigade of the Armor Corps. It maintains two bases: the "Shizafon" ("Tanning") base, which is the training school for the corps' commanders, where the officers and tank commanders are instructed. The "Magen Sayarim" ("Scout Defense") Camp maintains the armor training school where basic and continued training is undertaken, preparing armor combatants toward the operational brigades.

Reserve or disbanded units

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 armoured reserve supporting the infantry brigades holding the Bar-Lev Line. It suffered terrible casualties during the war but was rebuilt afterwards. [Historical Notes and Scenarios Booklet, Suez '73 (boardgame), Game Designers' Workshop, 1981]

211th Brigade

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.

847th Brigade

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 AFVs. Recently, the brigade took part in the 2006 Lebanon War, most notably in the Battle of Bint Jbeil and battle of Yaroon, in the war the brigade eliminated approximately 60 Hezbollah fighters.

500th Brigade

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 over the city 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.


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