The 4 officers receiving the chief of staff's citation
Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit
4 officers involved in tunnel destruction awarded chief of staff's citation
Work by Cpt. A., 1st Sgt.-Maj. L., 1st Sgt.-Maj. F and Sgt.-Maj. A. has been highly publicized over last few months, despite their faces and full names remaining in shadow; officers awarded special citation last week for key roles in combating threat of terror tunnels.
Of the 58 officers and non-commissioned officers to receive a special citation from the IDF's chief of staff last week, four officers stood out in being awarded the citation for their unique work in locating and destroying terror tunnels.
Recognition of the four officers' work mirrors the army's prioritization of the threat posed by tunnels, which has been atop the IDF's rung of priorities for a time with enormous resources invested in combating it in the past few years.
In the past few months, a joint collaboration between engineering, intelligence and technology people in both the IDF and Defense Ministry has led to the discovery and subsequent destruction of several terror tunnels.
First Sergeant Major L., head of engineering for Southern Command and one of the soldiers awarded the citation, said, "I took part in the discovery of the last tunnels, which we located through special means I cannot disclose."
"We're focusing on finding concrete solutions to this significant threat," he added. "You take part in things you never dreamed possible. Various operational aspects are continuously practiced in this regard—extreme scenarios that may seem imaginary and farfetched to some, but which we prepare for nonetheless."
The second to receive the citation was Captain A., a division head at the Defense Ministry's Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure (Maf'at), who works on development of subterranean measures.
"My role is to take development agencies down to the field and connect them to soldiers on the ground to work together—in the utmost secrecy—to find the ultimate solution (to the tunnel threat)," A. explained.
"There has been a serious focusing in the past four years. We have taken all of our knowledge and imaginary scenarios and found a real solution on the ground for them," he added. "That has led to the development of highly impressive capabilities in a very short period of time."
"We live in a highly complex reality, and it's much more difficult fighting underground than in any other terrain. On a personal note, I feel a great privilege to have been able to take part in this effort," the captain concluded.
Sergeant Major A., a combat soldiers in GOC Army Headquarters' special engineering tasks unit, also played a key role in the tunnels' destruction. "You don't just pick up a tunnel. It's very time-consuming labor," he explained. "It's a matter of discovery, surveillance and timing, with our job being to defend routine security and destroy tunnels."
Sgt.-Maj. A. was involved in the last three tunnels' discovery. "I played a very significant role in both their location and destruction," he divulged. "Because the enemy is always in flux and trying to make it more difficult for us, we constantly try to outwit him and get creative, to study him as best we can and to eventually defeat him."
The last outstanding soldier involved in tunnel detection is First Sergeant Major F., a mechanical engineering combat soldier with Combat Engineering Corps's HaMachatz Battalion.
"We will be right on the frontlines of the next conflict, same as the rest of the Combat Engineering Corps," he said. "We'll be the first ones in and the last ones out and clear a path for our forces."
"I'm only doing my job. I don't know why I received this citation—that's something you need to ask my commanders. I believe in not doing only what's instructed, but going a step beyond," he summed up.