As part of their Operational Training Course, the IAF’s new UAV Operators underwent a ground week. Throughout the week they were acquainted with the ground forces they will fight beside in real-time, they learned how a tank crew operates and navigated through different areas

Yael Fuchs

“Welcome”, announced Lt. Or, an Intelligence Officer from the Paratrooper’s Brigade Reconnaissance Battalion. Before him, stood the UAV Operational Training Course Cadets who had spent the past week moving from one arena to the other. Throughout the week, which was organized by the IAF’s Cooperation Unit, the cadets were exposed to the activity of the IDF’s various ground Brigades.

“You are UAV operators, but you also decipher the field”, said Lt. Or and exhibited a map of the area. Without the UAV Operators contribution to the reconnaissance mission, the ground forces would encounter problems, he emphasized. “All the information collected by the IAF eventually reaches the combatant in the field”. 

UAV Operators Get Muddy

Photography: IAF Cooperation Unit

Supporting the Ground Forces
“How can we help the ground forces, understand their difficulties and the challenges they face?” asked Second Lt. Rom, an Operational Training Course Cadet. “The mutual week is the best way to become acquainted with this world. It allows us to see the bigger picture and teaches us how to optimally support the ground forces from the air”. Lt. Eldar, Commander of the “Shoval” (Heron 1) Operational Training Course, added: “This is a world that most of us have not experienced and will not experience as IAF personnel and this is the first time the cadets talk to the people that they will be working with in combat. It is important to know who they are going to work with and how to do it properly”.

It is important to keep in mind that communication and mutual operation aren’t built in one visit and that the ground week is part of a long-term process in which cooperation is built. “In order for this to work we have to talk cooperation”, said Lt. Or. “It is important for you to be part of the combat procedure, so you must know the field and the fighting force. The chemistry and cooperation will help save lives”.

UAV Operators Get Muddy

Photography: IAF Cooperation Unit

Navigating From the Ground
After the operators learned about the infantry forces’ various weapons and vehicles, they climbed to the peak of a mountain and received a mission – to identify a target, but not from the air as they are used to, but from the ground. “Finding things from the ground isn’t so simple”, smiled Bar Haim, an Officer from the IAF Cooperation Unit.

The mission might have been challenging for the UAV Operators, who know how to identify locations from the air and are used to seeing things from a Birdseye view, but they succeeded. “This experience gives us a chance to see and understand the operational thought process from point of view of the combatants in the field”, shared Second Lt. Zohar, a Cadet.

UAV Operators Get Muddy

Photography: IAF Cooperation Unit

Team Work
The cadets also met with a tank commander who talked about the missions, difficulties and challenges they face while maneuvering in an armored vehicle. They circled around the tank and examined it from every possible angle.
Four crew members sit inside a tank, every crew member has a different role and mission, but one mutual goal. “It was interesting to see their activity ‘live’. I think that we can learn from the team work inside the tanks”, shared Second Lt. Uri, a cadet. “I now understand what their daily life looks like and what their routine is”.

UAV Operators Get Muddy

Photography: IAF Cooperation Unit

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