This week, the Israeli and American Active Defense Forces took part in a mutual UTCO (Upper Tier Coordination Officer) course. The officers, that will coordinate the American and Israeli Active Defense Weapons Systems in an emergency situation, learned how to oversee an interception, shoulder to shoulder
Vered Talala | Translation: Ohad Zeltzer Zubida | Pictures: Ayelet Eder
The Israeli and American active defense forces have maintained a longstanding cooperation, one that has lasted over two decades.
As a part of the cooperation, mutual learning and skill sharing between the American and Israeli defense forces, last week a mutual UTCO (Upper Tier Coordination Officer) course took place. The course, 7 days long, during which war scenarios are practiced, teaches the American and Israeli cadets the commands and procedures that make it possible to correlate both of the countries active defense weapons systems.
The “Arrow” Anti Missiles Defense Unit interception management center is the main control hub when it comes to active defense in times of emergency. When emergency strikes, two upper tier coordination officers, an Israeli and an American, will sit together and coordinate the relevant interception targets to each of the Israeli and American weapons systems: the Israeli systems being “Iron Dome”, “Patriot”, “Arrow” and in the future also “David’s Sling”.
“The ability to work together in real time will show results”
The existing cooperation between the American and Israeli Air Defense Forces is multilayered, includes many systems and was designed to create precise coordination in order to maximize abilities and minimize the waste of resources. “The relationship significantly contributes to the number of targets we can deal with. The ability to work together in real time, will bring significant results”, explains Col. Yoni Sayda-Marom, Commander of the Active Defense Wing in the Aerial Defense Division.
“The significance of the upper tier coordination officer and of the qualification course is in the creation of effective cooperation in combat”, explains First Lieutenant Itay Ariav, the commander of the mutual course. “The cooperation created during the course will allow maximal mission success. The interception of all targets that are fired toward Israel and maximal utilization of all existing resources”.
Besides the important theoretical content taught in the course, the cadets get to know each other, because in real time, the officers will sit side by side and deal with great responsibility, difficulties and tension – together.
“This acquaintance is crucial to the execution of the mission. It can be seen that the Americans attribute great importance to the course and the cooperation”, shares First Lieutenant Ariav.
The Cadets Share
Throughout the course, the future upper tier coordination officers were required to face the challenges of the position during war for the first time.
They practiced extreme war scenarios during which dozens of missiles were “launched” towards Israel and they had to make sure that every missile received a defensive response.
“In real time – we may face communication problems between us and the Americans”, described Captain Gil Zripa, one of the course’s cadets. “In training we build lingual and professional communication, so in real time the communication between us will be smooth and without delay”.