Photo: IDF (Zahal) Spokesperson
Date: 15/01/2009, 1:20 PM Author: Rani Sneh & Ashley Drexler
The success of the IDF (Zahal) thus far in Operation Cast Lead is largely due to the cooperation between different parts of the army – such as various brigades and units. Thanks to the use of UAVs, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, the IDF (Zahal) has been attaining footage captured from the air, above the Gaza Strip, and collecting data for the ground forces in Gaza.
Since the ground forces have entered the Gaza Strip, Sgt. Leiberman has been operating a UAV team in a combined force with the Givati Brigade, and is stationed in the operations room of the brigade. “We sit here with all of the authorities and receive assignments directly from them,” he says. In addition to operating the UAVs from the operations room, the reconnaissance division of the Givati Brigade, located in the Gaza Strip, is able to see the video footage from the UAV through a screen instantaneously. “We are talking to them and guiding them directly,” says Sgt. Leiberman. He explains that the most important task is accompanying the ground forces in the territory. “When the forces enter and cross the border, the UAV flies 500 meters in front of them, clearing the area. We guide them and give them advice regarding a safe point of entrance, what is risky and what is not.” Additionally, the UAV team collects intelligence information. A new task that has recently been implemented is the management of coordination and communication, which includes monitoring humanitarian efforts during the hours of a ceasefire. “If wounded people are being evacuated, we escort them and check that everything is okay; if they ask how many blockades there are on the route that they’re taking to seek medical care, we give them a response within a few minutes.”
The UAV team works with a number of authorities in the operations room and it knows its tasks and combat procedures quite well. “The launching and landing occur here, everything takes place here,” says Sgt. Leiberman, “We launch, we fly, we even take care of any technical problems.” He explains that the biggest advantage here is that they are operating the UAVs from the operations room alongside the Givati Brigade. “Here, the moment we see a force moving towards our forces, we immediately involve all the authorities that are conveniently beside us at all times. It’s a matter of seconds. We are vital to the missions and very connected to our soldiers.” Another benefit of the UAV is the ease with which it operates. “It runs on batteries that are recharged from here, the video footage is in color and it also captures thermal images,” explains Sgt. Leiberman. In addition, there are military intelligence office that are helping to interpret the images.
“Overall, it is quite calm here in this area as compared to the others,” says Sgt. Leiberman, “It is good that the forces aren’t encountering too much, and. I am happy to be accompanying our forces.” The team has been stationed in the operations room with the Givati Brigade for two weeks, and Sgt. Leiberman says, “We are satisfied with the soldiers of Givati as they are with us. The group is content.”