Recent headlines have been filled with stories of thwarted terror attacks from the Sinai region and the discovery of explosive devices planted along Israel's southern borders. The once quiet Egyptian border has been transformed into a tense area of heightened security.
Over the years the IDF has come to rely upon the innate skills of a unique unit: the Bedouin trackers, who held their annual series of training exercises this week.
Although exempt from serving in the military, many Bedouin teens living in Israel volunteer to enlist and even stay in the army as career soldiers, where they employ their unique and vital knowledge the Israeli terrain and their tracking skills. The IDF takes into consideration these soldiers' unique living conditions and lifestyles, accommodating their needs.
Om aan te geven hoe goed deze Israëlische bedoeïenen zijn in dienst van de IDF toont onderstaande:
In the deserts of the Israeli Negev, trackers spread out across the rolling dunes. They carefully track their quarry, searching through dirt and webs of dried riverbeds for the tiniest signs of a trail. To their razor-sharp eyes the daunting sea of open fields is simply a book to be read. One scout points out a series of slight indents in the ground, but these are not the tracks of a terrorist-
"Just someone out for a run," the tracker said with a smile. "They are about twelve hours old, you can tell from the wind erosion. The direction the dirt piles up tells you which way he was headed. They are just far enough apart to be a runner's gait, and right over there should be his track back. If we were here a few hours earlier I could tell you the brand of his shoe."
But not all trails are so benign and easily read. "Sometimes a chase can last days, we've had people do some really sneaky things to throw us off," said Maj. Suwad. "They will cover their tracks with plants, hide in holes under ground, climb into trees, but we never give up. Even if there is only the slightest hint of a trail we will find them." These drills are a good chance for them familiarize with these tricks, exchange stories, and figure out ways to get around them.
Tracking skills passed down generations
The tracking units receive training in tracking, but most of their knowledge comes from an older source. "The knowledge passes from father to son. Most of the tools that they use they learn as children living out in the fields," says Maj. Suwad. "The Bedouins can spend their whole life in the field, herding animals and using their skills to track ones that wander away. Commanders in the south constantly depend on the trackers for advice. Beyond their knowledge of tracking, they also have an unparalleled knowledge of the terrain."
Even in the modern age of UAV, constant air support, and satellite surveillance, the ancient science of tracking is still essential. "The tracker is essential, without him the battalion is blind. There isn't a single piece of technology that can replace a scout who knows how to track," said Maj. Suwad.