Picture by Guy Ashash
When ground forces enter the Gaza Strip, they are not alone
“Because of the unexpected nature of warfare, when the need for assistance arises, the forces will inform the brigade so that they can respond as quickly and effectively as possible”
The role of the unit in times of emergency is to be a link between the IAF and the ground forces The ground maneuver in the Gaza Strip in combination with massive aerial activity is exactly the scenario for which the Cooperation Unit prepared. The unit’s role is to act as a liaison between the ground forces and the IAF so that the forces will be able to help one another in combat
When ground forces enter the Gaza Strip, they are not alone. Above them are the combat helicopters with which the infantry commanders can communicate using the two-way radio if the need arises. Thanks to their bird’s-eye view, combat helicopters can detect threats that are beyond view range of the ground forces and eliminate them. The officers of the Cooperation Unit are the ones responsible for training the two sides.
The role of the unit in times of emergency is to be a link between the IAF and the ground forces. During an operation, the goal is to ensure that cooperation between the aircrews in the squadrons and the troops maneuvering on the ground runs smoothly.
Dispatching a Helicopter
There are two main scenarios in which the ground forces would need aerial assistance: one is quick evacuation of casualties and sometimes rescue missions in hostile territory and the other is providing fire power.”The way we dispatch aerial forces to assist maneuvering ground forces is very clear”, adds Colonel A’, commander of the Cooperation Unit. “When a combat soldier deployed to the Gaza Strip needs assistance in evacuating casualties, he relays his request up the chain of command in the brigade until it reaches the Situation Room at IAF Headquarters, where the approval is given to dispatch helicopters to the designated target”.
The coordinate between helicopters and the infantry troops is done through the JTAC (Joint Terminal Attack Coordinator) who is part of the ground force. The JTAC undergoes air force training, in which he learns how to direct a helicopter pilot so that ground force can join it.
In cases in which additional firepower is necessary, a number of possibilities are considered: first, is there a need for a combat helicopter, which is capable of closely accompanying ground forces and providing different kinds of firepower? Or is it necessary to dispatch a combat jet, which carries much more very weaponry, but faces the potential of greater damage. Second, the ground forces that need assistance have to clarify if it is an immediate necessity because of a threat or if hitting it is merely a strategic goal.
“When we plan a ground maneuver, first of all we have to clarify where we need to integrate the IAF in the strategic targets we know about in advance”, adds Lieutenant Colonel Shaul, from the Cooperation Unit. “Nonetheless, because of the unexpected nature of warfare, when the need for assistance arises, the forces will inform the brigade so that they can respond as quickly and effectively as possible”.