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Navy SEAL vs Israeli Commando

Update: The episode has aired. Those looking to watch the final battle online can see it here.

The big question is: who would win?

navy seal Israeli commandoSince America and Israel are allies, their soldiers won’t see each other on the battlefield. But tune into Spike TV for the season finale of “Deadliest Warrior” on July 27 and you’ll see an intriguing matchup of Navy SEALs vs. Israeli Commando. The hit show, which ends its second season, pits warriors against each other and has real-life representatives demonstrating weaponry and tactics. Using science and computer simulation, a result is tabulated. The winner is revealed through action sequences filmed with actors.

“We thought it would be a great finale because both are so iconic,” said executive producer Gary Tarpinian. “They are among athe greatest soldiers in the world. I can’t give away the ending but this was maybe the closest battle we’ve ever had.”

Tarpinian said the idea to use Israeli forces stemmed from his trip to Israel a decade ago when making the documentary “Operation Thunderbolt,” for The Learning Channel. He said he was impressed with the skill of Israeli forces in the dramatic Entebbe rescue, which saved hostages taken from an Air France flight that was hijacked. Tarpinian said he gleaned a lot of information in meeting with three prime ministers of Israel: Benjamin Netanyahu, Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak. Tarpinian said he remembers the unsuccessful rescue of American soldiers held hostage in Iran and figured it was the chief reason President Jimmy Carter didn’t get re-elected.

“It was a complete disaster,” he said. “So many people that I knew at the time would turn to me and say ‘geez, we should have let the Israelis do it.’ I don’t think you can get a higher compliment than that.”

Moti Horenstein, who served in several Israeli commando units, beginning in 1983, said he was happy to appear on the finale of “Deadliest Warrior.” Horenstein, a krav maga expert, with schools in Rockland County, New York and Miami, said he would bet Israeli forces would win in a battle against anybody.

“We are the best fighters because we have no choice,” he said. “We deal with violence 24/7.”

But Chris Osman, who served in Afghanistan as a Navy SEAL and is the co-author of “SEALs: The U.S. Navy’s Elite Fighting Force,” disagrees. The 36-year-old from San Diego said he’s sure of who would be victorious.

“The SEALs would win,” said Osman, who added that he’s a fan of the show. “We have better training, we’re better equipped and we have more combat experience. And the selection process is unbelievably tough.” Osman said he wrote his book to show not only the skills of the SEALs, but to show that the SEALs are “regular people who are exceptionally trained.”

Part of Deadliest Warrior’s success is due to the on air personalities of biomedical engineer Geoff Desmoulin, trauma expert Dr. Armand Dorian and computer whiz Max Geiger. The three serve as commentators, who get up close to the action.

Desmoulin, who has trained with Navy SEALs and has also taken lessons in krav maga in Vancouver, said he was extremely impressed with the SEALs’ shooting accuracy and was impressed with the Israelis’ hand- to-hand combat. Desmoulin, who emphatically shouts when things explode or there is a bloody show of aggression, uses a gel torso to mimic tissue of a human. There are high speed cameras to measure speed of impact as well as shock pads which measure lethality of explosions. There are also pig carcasses to measure effectiveness of blades and kill capacity. In some cases, cow flesh and bones are used.

“We did use the pigs, but we kept telling them they were kosher,” Desmoulin quipped.

Desmoulin said that aside from krav maga, there is another manner in which Israelis could have an advantage.

“In North America we don’t really start getting nasty until 18 years of age,” Desmoulin said. “Once you get desensitized to violence, you can think on your feet. It’s unfortunate but it makes them (Israelis) better warriors.”

But Dorian, a medical expert who is the decisive voice on the show for whether or not a bullet or a blade would result in a kill, says the Navy SEALs would have a huge advantage over the Israeli commando units in one area, due to an Israeli policy regarding the use of force.

“For the Israeli commando, collateral damage is not acceptable because of the fact that they fight inside their own homeland,” Dorian said. “For example, a Navy SEAL will put 30 slugs in the chest and if 10 go around the body, so be it. They just want to make sure of the kill. The Israeli commando will put only five shots in, due to the fact that he only has an opening of a few seconds and he knows that if he does miss, he may end up killing an innocent bystander. From a medical perspective, that’s huge because in a trauma room we’re taking care of a lot of collateral damage of innocent bystanders.”

Another person who thinks the Navy SEALs would have an advantage is John Shank, editor of Military Magazine. Shank said the recruitment process is the most stringent in the world, where only the best of the best make it. He added that they are trained to fight on different terrain and would be better suited to handle unpredictable situations.

Matan Gavish, a krav maga expert, who said he was in special ops for Israel and even got to train Navy SEALs in the Israeli fighting technique, said it would be close. The 28-year-old, who will open Krav Maga Academy on 27th Street in downtown Manhattan next month, said the SEALs have tremendous brute force and are the largest soldiers he’s seen. But he rationalized that Israeli forces would win for the same words used in a commercial for Mountain Dew.

“We been there, done that,” he said.

Gavish also said he thinks more people will be turned on to krav maga when seeing its practicality.

“You use your natural movements,” he said. ‘You don’t have to trick your body into moving like a tiger or a snake.”

But Israeli commando units were able to trick their enemies, sometimes by using disguises. Most notably, Barak dressed as a woman before opening fire. Tarpinian said he was told Barak made for a striking woman. Do the SEALs ever dress up like women? Osman said he could not recall such a case, though they do dress in enemy garb and grow beards, while Desmoulin said it’s not an easy answer.

“I can tell you this,” he said. “If they did, they would never tell and they would never say it on camera.”

Tarpinian said some who served in Israeli commando units rejected offers to be on the show, saying they took an oath to keep things secret.

“We’re not looking to give away trade secrets,” Tarpinian said.

“Deadliest Warrior” is not without controversy. Some object to the level of violence on the show. But more complaints came from an episode which featured a battle of the Irish Republican Army vs. The Taliban. Tarpinian said some in England were furious at the idea, saying it was tantamount to a glorification of terrorism. They added that the show to stick to using “real warriors.” Tarpinian said there are no endorsements made and that the show merely shows the weaponry and real tactics used in order to demonstrate a historical context.

Desmoulin added that it was a “bad guy vs. bad guy” episode and called it “a sensitive issue and an intriguing one.” Other shows have included Nazi Waffen-SS, vs. Viet Cong, while another had Somali Pirates vs. Medellin Cartel. Another question is the secret of how the computer simulations work, where the battle is run 1000 times to produce a winner. Tarpinian said he isn’t prepared to give away formulas that took a lot of time and money to produce.

Many fans are jazzed up to see the Navy SEALs because of their storied tradition, says Desmoulin. The episode marks the fourth time American soldiers will appear on the show. U.S forces have a record of 2-1, so far. SWAT defeated Germany’s GSG9 and the CIA defeated the KGB, in an episode that showed how to use a briefcase gun. In the first season, the Green Berets were defeated by Russian Spetsnaz. A video game version of the show is now available for download on Xbox. Spike TV will broadcast a marathon of “Deadliest Warrior,” on Tuesday with the finale airing at 10 p.m. Eastern Standard time.

“I hope the Israelis win,” Gavish said. “But it’s a show, so you never know. I will definitely be watching.”

Let the debate begin in the comments.

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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