Female IDF combat soldiers operating drones along the Lebanese border

It has been almost a year since female combat intelligence soldiers were first deployed to the Lebanese border, tasked with collecting real-time intelligence with drones for troops on the ground.

The decision to deploy an all-female unit specialized in drone operations changed the rules of the game for the sector, as the troops of the Combat Intelligence Collection Corps 869 “Shachaf” have been able to close the circle against threats through from the border in a matter of minutes.

Operating new technologies in a tense and complicated environment, the 11 female soldiers who are divided into two teams, document and photograph the area.

Lebanon regularly complains about Israeli surveillance drones invading its airspace, but the IDF maintains that such operations are necessary to track Hezbollah’s hostile activities.

An IDF combat soldier operating a drone (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON UNIT)

Lt. Meitar Kadosh, commander of the drone squad in the 869th Combat Intelligence Battalion, said her soldiers are the first women to serve in a combat position on the Lebanese border.

“Combat intelligence started with women along the Egyptian border and then the military realized that it should be on other borders as well,” he said. “There is no difference between men and women in their abilities and the IDF understood that.”

“We have operational missions in the sector every day. Sometimes they are incidents that are published and others not. Our drones play an important role in giving an operational image to the troops, “he said.

“My troops are protecting the Israeli skies,” Kadosh said.

Sergeant Dana Colvin, a combat intelligence soldier and drone operator, was one of the first soldiers to join the unit and trained in Tzehlim before being dispatched to the Lebanese border.

“When we first got here, it was relatively new and most of the missions weren’t in depth,” he said. “People weren’t sure where to best use us, but as time went on we got more missions that were useful to the sector and we also got new drones with better capabilities.”

A year later, they not only received new platforms, but also discovered which techniques are the best and generate more successful missions.

“We have played with what we have, a lot of trial and error. We see what kinds of techniques are most successful and we keep trying to improve them. We know that we have to be patient because not everything is going to work the first time. “

Colvin, who is from California, wanted to serve in a combat intelligence position, but was unaware of this position when he joined the IDF.

“I thought to myself, if I already leave my country, I could also do something that would be totally different and worthwhile,” he said.

    The remote control of the drone used by IDF combat soldiers (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON UNIT) The remote control of the drone used by IDF combat soldiers (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON UNIT)

Israel and Lebanon are still officially at war and, although the border with Lebanon is relatively quiet, there have been six cases of rocket fire since May.

The drones flown by Kadosh’s troops are “fast, small and effective” and played a significant role during all the rocket launches that have taken place since May.

In August, Palestinian militants fired three rockets at the northern city of Kiryat Shemona. While there was no damage or injuries, at least one rocket hit an open field and started a large fire. Colvin’s team was ordered to fly their drones to get a clear picture of the fire and the surrounding area while troops on the ground and firefighters controlled the fire.

“We definitely feel the May conflict here, but it’s like a wave; sometimes stronger sometimes weaker, “Colvin said, adding that” at the day-to-day level, we are busy. We can tell if he has been more active on the other side or not with the amount of missions we have. “

Colvin and his fellow soldiers fly small civilian DJI drones and others that are used for reconnaissance missions. At a cost of several thousand shekel each, these once expensive tools are now extremely affordable for the military, which has thousands of drones operating along its borders.

“The IDF is really on the rise in the tech world,” Kadosh said. “Drones were not used in the past as they are today.”

However, these drones have crashed in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip several times in recent years.

And while Colvin never lost a drone, a friend on his team lost one six months ago.

“Usually it is not something we can control, but sometimes there are GPS jammers in the area and misunderstandings between the units.”

As drones crash into enemy territory, the IDF says there is no risk of secret technology or classified intelligence being revealed.


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