Israeli Paratroopers, 1954-2016

Published: December 1st, 2018     
Product Image
Author: David Campbell; Illustrator: Peter Dennis
Reviewed by: 
Marc Blackburn, IPMS# 42892
Company: Osprey Publications
ISBN #: 9781472827710
E-Book ISBN #: 9781472827708
Other Publication Information: Softbound
Price: $19.00
Product / Stock #: ELI224

Israeli Paratroopers, 1954-2016 is one of the latest offerings of a long running Osprey series that examines elite forces from around the world. The elite series follows a certain formula; something that Osprey is very good at. Each volume covers origins, a short chronology, organization and various operations that fall within the time span of the book. As with many Osprey publications, this one includes historic and contemporary photographs, and a series of plates that feature the uniforms, equipment, and lengthy captions that touch upon the history about the paratroopers. I am surprised that the Israeli paratroopers have not been covered until now. Regardless, this is a handy one volume history.

To the credit of the author, he puts the paratroopers in a historical context with the rest of the Israeli Defense Forces, noting their unconventional origins and how they, along with the rest of the Israeli armed forces have evolved to meet the challenges of the last seventy years. It appears that from the beginning, the paratroopers had an aura of elan. . The origins of the paratroopers are briefly explored. As with many units of the Israeli Army, they were founded in the pell-mell struggle for Independence and became an amalgam of regulars and semi-autonomous bands of freedom fighters. It was this fierce fighting spirit mixed with a casual disregard for doctrine and rank that influenced the beginnings of the paratroopers.

The section that covers operations and campaigns briefly spell out the challenges that they had to meet - the struggle for independence and nationhood, meeting the challenges of living in a dangerous region, and the constant asymmetric warfare of the last decade. Noting that they rarely jumped from planes, these units continued to be used as elite infantry that are often mixed with other organizations. Their reputations put them in the vanguard of some of the more important battles in the 1956 Sinai Campaign, the Six day war of 1967 and the 1973 Yom Kippur War. What is of interest to me is that author paints a picture of units that were governed more by a fierce determination to get the job done than a set of procedures or doctrine. In the era after the Yom Kippur War, the paratroopers were called on to fight non-state organizations - the PLO and Hezbollah, which forced them to adopt counter insurgency tactics. The author suggest that in spite of their reputation, they have struggled to meet the needs of the present. Regardless, this slim volume certainly does validate their reputation as elite warriors.

The captions of the photographs are quite lengthy and add to some of the narrative details of the text. For modelers and buffs, the plates in particular provide detailed descriptions of equipment from the beginnings of the paratroopers to the present. The utility of these books continue to stand out. They are well written and illustrated, and while only providing a snapshot, provide enough detail for the casual reader.

My thanks to IPMS and Osprey Publications for giving me the opportunity to review this book.

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