SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM
Friday, February 17, 2006
TEL AVIV — Israel’s military has found the perfect vehicle for special operations forces — the llama.
After extensive tests, the uncomplaining work-horse animals were found to easily out-perform donkeys. What’s more, they need refuelling only every other day.
Military sources said the Israel Army plans to use llamas for reconnaissance and combat missions in enemy territory, Middle East Newsline reported. They described the llama as ideal for special operations missions in Lebanon against the Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah.
“The llama is a quiet and disciplined animal that can carry huge loads,” a military source said. “Vehicles make noise and need roads and fuel. We’ve tried donkeys and they are not suitable for such missions.”
The sources said the army has been training special forces to conduct low-signature ground missions in enemy territory. In January, llamas were employed in a special forces exercise in the Golan Heights.
The exercise employed a scenario in which a special operations unit entered Lebanon or Syria for reconnaissance and sabotage. During the exercise, the llamas carried more than 50 kilograms of equipment over mountainous terrain.
The army plans to train a force of llamas to carry up to 100 kilograms of equipment and supplies, the sources said. They said this would ease the burden on troops and enable special operations forces to focus on combat or reconnaissance.
The sources said donkeys also participated in the Golan Heights exercise. They said the donkeys did not perform as well and required much more food than llamas. The llamas could be fed once every other day.