General Staff Security Unit

Until 2001 the IDF didn't had a professional security detail, which can protect its high command - the General Staff members - during everyday activities such as attending civilian events or visiting high risk areas such as the Territories and the Israel borders. One partial exception was the primary residence of the IDF Chief of General Staff, which was protected by instructors from the IDF Counter Terror School, an activity nicknamed as "White House".

In 2001, following the assassination of the Israeli Tourism Minister by Palestinian terrorists, the IDF decided it required a professional protection unit, equivalent to the Israeli General Security Service (SHABACH) Security Unit, and formed the General Staff Security Unit.

The unit primary objectives are:

  • Protecting the Chief of General Staff.

  • Protecting other General Staff members according to need - the extent of protection varies based on the threat level - some generals receive 24/7 protection, other receive protection only when entering high risk areas.

  • Protecting IDF representatives during overseas visits.

  • Protecting foreign high ranking military representatives during visits to Israel.

When formed, the new unit was partially based on a specialized reserve unit within the Northern Command reserve which formed in the mid 1980's, following the IDF increased involvement in the South Lebanon, in order to project high ranking officers entering the area. After the IDF withdrawal from South Lebanon in May 2000, there was no longer a need for the unit and it was disbanded. When the new Security Unit was formed in 2001, many of the former reserve unit personnel were reassigned under the new in a reserve capacity and some were even reenlisted into active duty.

In its first years the unit faced considerable growing pains as the unit's formation and goals weren't properly laid out. There were several reports of misconduct such as usage of the unit's security vehicles for private purposes and exaggerated expenses. Another criticism was that the unit's size was too big for its missions. Eventually, the Military Police conducted an investigation into the unit and its first CO was forced to resign and the unit to be downsized.

Unlike most other IDF SF units, the Security Unit is not made out of mandatory service personnel but is rather based on career officers. The unit also has large reserve force which can be called for duty when needed. Most of the unit's operators are graduates of various Israeli government security units within such organization as the SHABACH and the Israeli Airports Authority. There is also a preference for officers and former SF operators.

New operators pass an extensive course which includes CT, dignitary protection, Krav Maga and tactical driving. The course is conducted with assistance from the IDF Counter Terror School and the SHABACH Security Unit. As the operators might sometimes engage enemy military forces, they are also trained and equipped to handle limited military style warfare. The unit also works in close cooperation with Unit Oketz in missions which require canine assistance such as explosives sniffing.

The Security Unit enjoys a generous budget which allows it procure the latest in weaponry and gear. It also has large pool of marked and unmarked military and civilian vehicles. The operators' standard issue weapons are IDF homemade Shorty CAR15/M4A1 and Glock handguns.

In order to be more representative, all of the unit's operators, regardless of their previous military rank, receive the rank of captain. In order to better blend in their surroundings, the unit's operators are usually on plain cloths when securing civilian events and on uniforms when inside military bases or facilities.

As with other specialized SF units, the Security Unit also acts as a school and passes VIP protection techniques classes to various IDF SF units according to need.

The following photos shows the Security Unit providing protection for the former IDF Chief of General Staff Shaul Mufaz (1998-2002). Note that all operators are armed with Shorty CAR15 and have officer ranks.

Units Guide