“We are here to learn and put issues on the table that today’s commanders might find themselves facing”.
A forum of commanders from 1973 alongside a forum of commander from 2013
Head of Air Division, Brigadier General Amikan Norkin beside then-commander of Hatzerim airbase, Colonel (res.) Amichai Shmueli
Head of the Helicopter Division, Brigadier General David Braki beside commander of the Refidim airbase, Colonel (res.) Eliezer (Cheetah) Cohen
Commander of IAF, Major General Amir Eshel, beside current IAF commanders Four decades after the end of the Yom Kippur War, the commanders of the IAF during the war met with a forum of current commanders. In a public conversation, the present commanders tried to absorb the knowledge and experience of the past and learn lessons that apply to the present and the future.
A forum of IAF commanders during the Yom Kippur War gathered yesterday for a special meeting with a forum of current commanders. While sitting shoulder to shoulder, with a wide age gap, the current commanders listened eagerly to their predecessors when the latter spoke about difficult decisions, the exciting moments, and the lessons the IAF had to implement in the years following the war. “This meeting is different, it has never been held”, Brigadier General Amikan Norkin, Head of Air Division, said in his opening of the conversation. “We are here to learn and put issues on the table that today’s commanders might find themselves facing”.
Exactly four decades ago, the commanders of all the bases and divisions sat around the same table and decided what would be the IAF’s next steps in the war. They had to deal with surprise attacks, falling missiles and the loss of soldiers-feelings burnt deeply into the Israeli consciousness. “Commanders are measured in the most difficult of times”, said Brigadier General Tomer Bar, commander of the Tel Nof airbase. “I assume that each of them, the veteran commanders of the forum, had difficult points during the war, in which he was forced to tell himself to keep his head up high. How do you pull yourself together? Where do you find the strength?”.
“As hard as the situation is, as a commander, you have to be available and responsive to those who are subordinate to you”, explained Colonel (res.) Eliezer (Cheetah) Cohen, who was called to command the Rafidim airbase a day before the outbreak of the war, when the commander of the base, Colonel (res.) Amitai Hasson was out of the country.