188th Armored Brigade - Barak
The Barak Brigade is one of the regular armored brigades of the Northern Command. The Barak Brigade was formed before the establishment of the State of Israel, when it was known as the Carmeli Brigade. It was then an infantry brigade which fought in the north of Israel, from the Western Galilee to kibbutz Manara.
Today, the brigade's symbol is that of the Carmeli brigade, which has been used since the brigade was established. After the establishment of the State, all the independent Jewish fighting units were dismantled.
The 188th Armored Brigade was one of two armored brigades deployed with Israeli infantry forces against Syrian forces in the Golan Heights during the Yom Kippur War of 1973. In the first few days of the war, the 188th Brigade was almost destroyed, and by October 7, nine out of ten brigade officers had been killed or wounded. Brigade commander Colonel Ben-Shoham then moved the brigade from its position along the Tapline road to confront another Syrian attack. Several days later, what remained of the 188th Brigade went with several other battalions to capture Syrian positions in Jubata.
The experiences of the brigade during the Yom Kippur War in 1973 were particularly difficult. At the time, the Barak brigade was the only regular armored force on the Golan Heights. In the light of intelligence reports, the 7th Armored Division was sent to the Golan Heights two days before the outbreak of hostilities. However, the 7th Division soldiers were not familiar with the Golan Heights. The two brigades were spread out is isolated teams along the border line. The Barak brigade was responsible for the Southern Golan Heights sector. The main Syrian efforts to break through the border was in the Southern Golan Heights area, and the ratio of defenders to attackers forces was extremely unfavorable.
During the Yom Kippur War, 112 soldiers from the Barak brigade were killed in action. After the war the brigade rebuilt itself and later participated in the Litani Campaign and other armored operations.
In the Peace for Galilee War, the brigade led division forces into Lebanon. This war was in built-up areas, hardly the typical combat arena for armor. The brigade fought in the Beirut sector, and participated in the capture of the airport. It then continued to fight in the eastern sector in Lebanon. The brigade participated in all subsequent redeployments stabilizing the lines in the Lebanese sector, and was among the last forces to leave Lebanon.
Similar to the past, today the brigade is responsible for defending the northern sector of the Golan Heights and participates in ongoing security operations in Judea, Samaria and Lebanon.
In recent years, the brigade has changed over from the Centurion tank, which it used for an entire generation, to the ultramodern Merkava Mark 3 main battle tank. This changeover to the best combat tank in the world today has just been completed.
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