Battalions Shahar and Kedem are regular operational units of the IDF which provide response to Search and Rescue (SAR) events as well as non-conventional events (aftermath of use of nuclear, chemical and biological munitions), in peacetime and in emergency, within Israel's borders and beyond them, which arise as a result of warfare, terrorist actions or mass disasters.
In peacetime, these units are engaged in regular security operations, performing tasks similar to any other IDF combat unit, such as arrests of saboteurs and terrorists, ambushes, manning of roadblocks and security checkpoints, and guard duties. In addition, the SAR units train break-in teams and terminal teams whose task is to accompany the special forces teams and assist them in entry and team extraction.
The battalions' troops receive full combat training, with additional specialization in non-conventional warfare protection (NBC), and undergo regular exercises in combat, SAR and NBC defense skills.
The troopers' training
An SAR trooper begins his training with the "rifleman level 3" basic training, taking place for 10 weeks at the Zikkim camp. Boot camp is followed by the 6-week long SAR and NBC course at the HFC "BAHAD 16" training base at Zrifin, providing the new trooper with the "SAR level 5" training. This stage is followed by 8 weeks of advanced training at Zikkim, bringing the trooper up to the "SAR level 7". Following this, he joins his company for 9 weeks of operational duties, culminating in his graduation as a fully-fledged SAR trooper.
However, in Shahar and Kedem battalions, the end of the training course is only the beginning. The troopers learn how to operate the equipment required in SAR and NBC defense events, as well as the tools used by a regular combat trooper, and even undergo a first-aid course. Troopers who distinguish themselves, undergo training with additional SAR and combat tools, such as sniping weapons and grenade launchers. Following this training chapter, the trooper may be designated for a number of additional specialist training courses, such as army medic course, physical training instructor course, and an advanced SAR course.
Squad leader course:
this is the first command course offered in any trooper's army career. It transforms a private into a leader and provides him with the tools needed to command a squad of combat troops.
Officer Training School:
those SAR battalion troopers interested in becoming officers, will undergo the "Lahav" officers' course at the IDF Officer Training School, BAHAD 1, followed by additional specialist course as SAR officers. At the end of this training, the new officer is assigned as a platoon leader in one of the combat battalions.
Troopers who distinguish themselves, as well as those nearing the end of their service period, are offered a variety of "reward" courses, such as the IDF parachute course, Photoshop course, psychometric exam preparation course and level 3 driving course.
In November 2003, the first SAR company, "Shavit", was established. The "Hetz" company was established in March 2004, followed by the third and last SAR company, the "Rotem". At first, the SAR companies were separate entities, each attached to a certain HFC regional command and operating under different battalion structures in different sectors. During the Second Lebanon war, the three companies were used for various tasks, such as demolition event and hazmat event response within Israel, as well as in operations in the Gaza Strip. Following the war, it was decided to improve the command and control structure of the companies, amalgamating them into a single regular battalion. Shahar battalion was established on September 4, 2008. Since then, the unit has won many accolades, including the battalion citation within the Judea and Samaria Division for 2009, as well as being a candidate for the Chief of Staff's citation. The battalion won 3rd place in the IDF combat fitness competition, 2nd place in "fire after exertion" competition, and 3rd place in hand-to-hand combat competition.
Due to the unit's many successes and operational need for another SAR and NBC defense unit staffed with high-quality combat personnel, another SAR battalion, "Kedem", was established. Today, both battalions carry out similar operational duties.