The IDF has officially launched its first battalion specifically trained for dealing with the aftermath of nuclear/biological/chemical (NBC) attacks, named Yanshuf ('Owl'). An NBC unit by the same name has existed for a long time, according to the IDF website, but it has not been recognized as a full-fledged battalion until now.
The head of the military's NBC Center, Col. Ari Hoze, told the website that receiving official battalion status involves various other changes. The combat soldier track for NBC soldiers has been lengthened, and company commanders now need to complete the Company Commander Course just like their counterparts in the other IDF field units.
The new battalion was officially launched last week with Yanshuf's first battalion-level exercise. Yanshuf's companies drilled scenarios in which chemical warheads hit open spaces and and urban environments. They also rehearsed cooperation with a team from the Engineering Unit for Special Operations (Yahalom).
IDF Ground Forces Commander, Major General Sami Turjeman congratulated the new battalion's soldiers and hinted at the reason for the unit's upgraded status: concern over a possible confrontation with Syria.
"We are here in the southern Golan Heights," he told the soldiers. "Not far away from us, the Syrians are preparing various capabilities that we need to prepare for. Our job is not to prepare for the conventional events but for the extreme scenarios, and Yanshuf Battalion is the spearhead of the [NBC] defense element. You have a very heavy responsibility on your shoulders. We are building a highly professional unit here with the spirit of an operational fighting unit."