For three whole days, the soldiers of Ouvda Airbase experienced a series of emergency scenarios which caught them all by surprise. Practicing complex missions and unforeseen scenarios are the recipe for readying an entire airbase for war
21:00 PM, Saturday night at the Southern Ouvda Airbase. Out of nowhere, an earsplitting siren is sounded throughout the site. No one – from soldiers to squadron commanders – expected that. An order is given and the airbase enters an alert state as the background story clears out: a terror organization in Sinai threatens the airbase and there a concern rises regarding possible rocket fire toward the base and terrorist infiltration.
“We put an emphasis on the element of surprise. The soldiers did not even know the end date of the training exercise”, said Major Israel, commander of the training squadron leading the special “days of activity” in Ouvda airbase. “The soldiers faced a variety of emergency situations – from infiltration of terrorists to system breakdown and outbreak of fire”.
Although none of the scenarios was real, the soldiers had to follow real-time procedures. “Our goal was to create a high-quality training exercise while making sure the courses and other training taking place in the airbase continue to run with minimal interruption”, added Major Israel. “Ouvda airbase stands on two feet – the field of instructions and courses and the operational field which requires full-time preparedness”.
“During the first eight hours – the challenge is mostly mental”
The commander of the airbase’s flight squadron, who stayed in central Israel as the exercise training started, was also surprised by it and rapidly flew to Ouvda to command on the simulated campaign. “Most of the commanders were not at the base, what made the transition to emergency activity quite challenging”, said Lt. Col. Guy, commander of Ouvda’s flight squadron. “Nonetheless, the airbase performed well: The firefighting station operated under great pressure, the ground defense dealt with complex scenarios and the airbases operations room worked around the clock.
“One of the scenarios included a car rollover in the southernmost point of the airbase, an event that requires the involvement of ground defense, firefighting and medical forces. As we hurried to the scene of the accident, we were suddenly informed of an additional truck rollover at the other side of the airbase. Dealing with the two accidents was very challenging”, said Lt. Col. Guy. “There are many advantages to surprise. During the first eight hours – the challenge is mostly mental. As time goes by the challenge turns more operational, but by dealing with the scenarios, even the most extreme of them, we make inferences which will help us during actual warfare”.