Friday, November 29, 2013

Elite Military Units and the AR Weapon Platform: Duvdevan, Israel

In our final installment of various foreign special operations military units that use the AR-15 weapon platform as a primary weapon, we have decided to highlight another special forces unit from Israel, the Duvdevan Unit.  Israel has many amazing, elite military units, but the function and capabilities of Duvdevan are both interesting and incredible.

In Hebrew, Duvdevan means "cherry".  There are a couple of reasons offered on various online unit descriptions as to why they were given this name; however, former unit member Aaron Cohen, in his book Brotherhood of Warriors, explains the unusual moniker to clear things up.*  In Israel, there is a species of cherry that looks identical to a normal, edible cherry, but this particular species has a strong and sometimes lethal poison.  By the end of this post, it should be clear that the design and capabilities of this special operations unit mimic (in a tactical and operational manner) its namesake fruit.

Unit History:
The unit motto comes from Proverbs 24:6, "For by wise counsel thou shalt make war."  Duvdevan was formed in 1987 when the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) was under the command of General Ehud Barak.  Around that time period there was a Palestinian uprising (the 1st Intifada) that unleashed an increased tempo of terrorist attacks against Israeli military and civilian targets.  Standard military units and special forces units already in existence were not well suited for responding to and preventing these types and numbers of attacks.  The concept of the Duvdevan unit was implemented and initial unit members were drawn from Shayetet 13, the "Navy Seals" of the IDF.

Duvdevan is tasked exclusively with counter terrorism.  The national police force has a similar unit (YAMAM), but Duvdevan is the exclusive, elite unit of the IDF trained and equipped to prevent and respond to incidents of terrorism.  The unit is designed to infiltrate deep into Palestinian controlled or populated areas of Israel (Gaza, The West Bank, areas of Jerusalem) and arrest or neutralize terrorist targets.  Unit operators "become" Arabs...they speak their language and even dialects, follow their customs, manner of dress and appearance, and behaviors all in order to gather intelligence and ultimately apprehend terrorists and prevent future terrorist attacks.  So, much like their namesake, Duvdevan operators may appear "safe" and normal, but in reality they are quite lethal.

Training and Equipment:
Around 2002, the Duvdevan unit saw some changes made, especially in regard to the recruit training design and process.  Potential unit members have to go through basic and advanced infantry training like any standard IDF infantry soldier.  They do this alongside the IDF Paratroopers Brigade (Tzanchanim), at their training facility.  An initial 24 hour long unit specific test is given prior to their basic training and in later training, a 5 day long qualification test must be passed before admission to unit specific training. In depth psychological interviews and background investigations are also performed prior to any "real"  Duvdevan training.

Following completion of basic and advanced infantry training, the recruit attends an 8 week long "Duvdevan basic training" where urban land navigation skills, counter terrorism training, and combatives techniques are learned.  It is then on to the IDF Counter Terror Warfare School, where all IDF special operations members who are tasked with counter terrorism operations receive training.  Eventual members of the Duvdevan unit receive the longest (duration) and most in depth training at this facility.  This is followed by 16 weeks of Mistavarim (undercover operations) training, where the student is instructed in language and cultural specifics in order to successfully assimilate into Palestinian Arab settlements.  Additional training for unit member specific skills (sniper, medic, demolitions, etc...) occurs before the successful recruit is assigned to a team and begins operations.

Duvdevan operators have access to any of the weapons in use by the IDF.  Due to the nature of  their primarily undercover operations, smaller, concealable weapons are the norm.  Glock and Sig Sauer pistols in 9mm are the standard handguns used by members, and sub machine guns like the Micro Uzi and H&K MP-5 are small enough to be employed in a discreet manner.  Much like their fellow special forces operators, Sayeret Matkal, when a battle rifle or rifle caliber ammunition is desired, Duvdevan operators seem to opt for the Colt Commando configured AR-15.**  The 11.5" barrel and collapsible stock allow concealment and ease of movement in urban terrain and operations, but still offer a weapon with the ballistic advantage of a fast rifle caliber and the mission specific customization provided by the AR-15 weapon platform.

Duvdevan is an important element in the IDF defense against terrorism.  In 2002, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon presented an award to the Duvdevan unit in recognition of their having the greatest impact of any IDF unit on the war on terror.**  Their selection and use of the AR weapon platform is yet another testament to the value of this amazing rifle for a multitude of applications, but definitely in the defense of life and nation.

Thanks for reading our blog.  If you have any questions about the AR-15 rifles we produce at Del-Ton, Incorporated or the AR-15 parts we offer at, please feel free to contact us.

*Brotherhood of Warriors, Aaron Cohen
**Interview with former Duvdevan operator, Garret Machine on

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing.I found a lot of interesting information here. A really good post, very thankful and hopeful that you will write many more posts like this one.