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 IDF was created and the Carmeli brigade became the 18th Brigade. During the Sinai Campaign, the brigade was deployed on the Jordanian border, and therefore did not have an active role in the combat. One of the main conclusions after the war was that the army needed armored units, and the 18th Brigade started the changeover by becoming the 45th Armored Brigade.
The brigade commander, Moshe Bar-Kochba (Brill) commanded the brigade in the Six Day War. The brigade received the Eastern sector. The IDF took the initiative to attack, in order to remove the threat of the Long Tom guns on the valley settlements and on the Ramat David airfield. The brigade fought a number of bloody battles in the Dotan Valley, which ended with the blowing up of the Jordan river bridges.
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.
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.
Sources: Israel Defense Forces