“This exercise helped us connect with the soldiers on ground” Six months after Operation “Protective Edge”, the pilots of the advanced operational training course, who recently graduated from the pilot course, are becoming acquainted with the ground force in a special workshop
The pilots of the advanced operational training course of the “Flying Dragon” squadron took off their flight suits and took part in a special workshop last week. The workshop included lectures, lessons and exercises with the weapons used by the ground force, such as tanks. The exercise took place in the muddy fields of the Golan Heights, a very different environment than the cockpit of the instructional “SkyHawk” jet. The workshop was led by the IAF Cooperation Unit, which strives to strengthen the bond between the forces. “The basic familiarity between the two forces is key to cooperation”, said deputy commander of the paratrooper “Adder” battalion, during his lecture.
Early in the morning, the young combat pilots drove from the southern airbase Hatzerim to the Golan Heights, where they visit various ground force bases. The pilots practiced firing with rifles and tanks, and drove D9s (armored bulldozers). Practicing with these weapons created great excitement among the pilots, who were able to understand the feelings of their fellow combat soldiers for the first time. “We learned about the structure of a ground battalion and the division and their different missions”, said Lieutenant Y’, one of the participants. “We will remember this experience for a long time. Apart from the experience, this exercise helped us connect with the soldiers on ground. Assisting these forces is a major part of our job and we must be familiar with them, mentally and practically”.
Executing the Mission
The main goal of the experience was to create a positive encounter between the pilots and the ground forces. As such, even during the theoretical stages of the exercise, the lecturing ground force officers were asked to talk about their mission and how the Fighter Jet Division was involved. The pilots learned about the cooperation between the IAF and the ground forces, understood the gaps between them, and became familiar with the cooperation through which they will assist the ground forces. “Understanding the needs of the ground forces for air support of the fighter jets contributes to strengthening trust”, said Head of Ground Forces Department in the Cooperation Unit, Major Arik Krauthammer. “Every force has its own needs and missions and so the pilots must know them and understand why they need air support”.