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Gadna ( ) is an Israelimarker military program to prepare youth for their mandatory military service in the Israel Defense Forces or Border Police. A one week program of discipline and military learning run by soldiers of the Nahal infantry brigade, Gadna hosts an estimated 19,000 Israeli youth annually, as well as numerous foreign youths.


Gadna, an abbreviation for Gdudei No'ar ( ), was created before the Israeli declaration of independence. Trainees originally served as combatants for all intents and purposes, actively participating in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, particularly on the Jerusalemmarker front.


The commanders, sergeants and officers, wear the green beret of the Nahal infantry brigade, but they do not have the infantry badge on their beret, or the Nahal shoulder tag, wearing the Education and Youth Corps badge and tag instead.

The commanders wear a brown braid on their left shoulders. Trainees in Gadna are issued uniforms consisting of fatigue or B uniform pants and a shirt, a military belt, a canteen, and a canteen holder. Upon arrival, trainees are given hats which must be worn at all times. Girls must always tie their hair.

Living in army tents or barracks, the youth are organized into squads. The squad has two leaders chosen by the commander. The highest youth is taken under the base officer's wing and wears a braid on their left shoulder, or multi-colored (striped) epaulets. If they wear the braid they wear the same color epaulet as the rest of their unit. The second highest youth commander is the sergeant. They wear special epaulets, usually black, and they never wear a braid.


The Gadna program is subordinate to the Magen division of the Education and Youth Corps.


Numerous bases were related to the Gadna program over the years, although as of 2008, only 3 operational Gadna bases remain:

Plans exist to upgrade and renovate these bases, which will likely be carried out before the 2009–10 school year.

Life in Gadna

While in the week long program all youth foreign and Israeli go through the same program. However, Israeli youth do other longer and more demanding programs in preparation for service in the IDF. Gadna participants wake up early and go to bed late. They learn about weapons, and learn how to take apart, clean and service the M-16 assault rifle. They also go through physical training and basic indoctrination. They learn about the history of the IDF and its great battles and heroes. Gadna participants also take part in maintaining the base including cleaning the grounds and kitchen duty. They also fire their weapons, go on short 'forced' marches (forced marches in full battle gear are common in all infantry units of the IDF).


While the Gadna program has been criticized as "overly militaristic" by certain educators and professors in Israel, the Education and Youth Corps has prepared a program which would see more militaristic and combatant values inserted into the lessons conducted in the program, although less emphasis will be put on the physical aspect of the program.


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