The Israel Defense Forces’ 188th Armored Brigade adopted the new ‘Mark 4 Chariot’ tank this year. These state-of-the-art tanks are the most advanced in Israel’s ground forces. An IDF spokesperson interviewed Brigade Commander Colonel Nir Rosenberg about the significant change in weaponry and the impact of these lethal machines on the battlefront. The 188th Armored Division adopted the Mark 4 tank after 27 years of using its predecessor, the ‘Mark 3 Bez Chariot’ tank, concluding almost three decades of the Mark 3 being deployed in the Second Lebanon War, in operations Cast Lead and Eitan Cliff.
“Like everyone who craves the latest car or iPhone, so too do we want to fight with the most upgraded war machine,” says Rosenberg. “It’s about strengthening the capabilities of cross-targeting and detecting our enemies; about our offensive capabilities and about building Israel into a stronger military power a stronger engine power,” says 188th Division Brigadier General, Colonel Nir Rosenberg.
“The artillery of the Mark 4 is extremely versatile. It is fully equipped with automated computer systems that do all the hard work for us; All this in order to bring the shell to the target,” added Captain Amiad Ayalon, commander of the 71st Battalion.
“These new tanks have the ability to level enemy positions… they completely change the way we operate. It’s something that would have seemed like a very distant dream using our previous Mark 3s. ”
The brigade commander, a member of the kibbutz movement, says that many times young people would ask him to help them serve in the IDF’s armored divisions. But recently, he notices a change in the number of soldiers who want to reach Brigade 188: “I have seen a new wave of soldiers who wish to join the commanders of the 188th division because of our new weaponry… These new tanks are motivating them to succeed.”
As part of the change in the past year, there have been many more officers waiting to take up the post of lieutenant colonel: “I am proud to say that we have a reserve of lieutenant colonels – a selection of people who have completed a course and are waiting to command a company. Now we have the ability to select the workforce based on previous performance and estimates, and not on an automatic basis, because of the sheer number of applicants we have received,” says Rosenberg.
“I think our capabilities are decided by our incredible commanders,” Captain Ayalon states in reference to the astonishing number of applicants. “These applicants are soldiers who truly care about their subordinates… they inspire their crew to gladly serve under their command. This is also one of the reasons I have stayed in the 188th and why I want to continue serving in this division. Even if this unit can be difficult and demanding at times, I think it’s worth the effort.”
The highlight of the 188th Brigade in the past year, as Colonel Rosenberg explains, was their four-month training mission in the Golan Heights with the new Mark 4 tanks. This operation simulated all the challenges the armored personnel carriers in Lebanon will face should they deploy their if tensions in the area boil over.
“We had to make a lot of adjustments to the operation, significantly changing what we planned in order to respond to what actually happened during the exercise,” explained Rosenberg. “Now, we are ready for deployment in Lebanon to defend Israel on all fronts.”
The 188th Brigade is a welcome sight in Northern Israel, where tank warfare has been a mainstay on the local battlefronts. “We know that the enemy is sitting on our doorstep wielding deadly weapons,” Rosenberg revealed. “As a company commander, I have utmost faith the forces I command are ready for anything.”
“I deal with people who love their job, the kind I believe in when the going gets tough,” the company commander shares, “the 188th Brigade has become an exemplary unit in the IDF thanks to our Mark 4 tanks and thanks to the quality of our manpower.”