President Reuven Rivlin visited the Mount Hermon front on Wednesday and met with soldiers of the IDF’s Alpinist unit, accompanied by their commander, Lt.-Col. (res.) Menachem Folk. The president was briefed by GOC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Amir Baram on the unique sector and the operational challenges across the command.
The IDF Alpinist (Yehidat Ha’Alpinistim), established in 1983, is a special force infantry reserve unit under the command of the Army’s Northern Command, specializing in mountain warfare, snow warfare, and difficult terrain warfare on the northern front. The Alpinists are proficient in many aspects of snow warfare, among them shooting and attacking while sliding on skis and custom-made Snowcats, and defensive tactics in low-temperature conditions. The force’s standard equipment includes M4 Carbine assault rifles, the TAR-21 Tavor assault rifle, a Negev light machine gun, and M24 and SR-25 sniper rifles.
The president plowed his way to the alpinists’ hut on a Snowcat, instead of his regular motorcade. “We Jerusalemites wait all year for white flakes. For us, snow is something out of the ordinary, an excuse to party. But for you, it’s work,” said the president.
The president spoke to the unit’s soldiers, saying, “The peaks of the Hermon are not snowy all year round, but the threats we face are a constant presence. We must be ready for any scenario and protect our borders whatever the weather. We cannot leave any point vulnerable, in any circumstance. During our history, we have been surprised more than once. The right way to do things is to be ready for anything, not to say ‘it’ll be OK’, but to predict any surprise and to make sure Israelis are safe. You, ‘the Mountain Patrol’, an elite reserve unit, are responsible for a sensitive point, the triple border with Lebanon and Syria. You ensure the security of the Hermon when it is covered in snow.”
“Our alpine soldiers are also an important operational asset for the State of Israel. You, our veteran alpine reservists, have incredibly valuable knowledge and experience that you bring to the Israeli people and the State of Israel,” the president said.