Every flight formation has a leader. The biggest ground leadership workshop, which included all the IAF platforms, was held this week, aiming at creating the best possible leaders
Shachar Zorani | Translation: Eden Sharon
The biggest class of the IAF leadership course finished the ground stage earlier this week. For the first time, the course included all IAF platforms: fighter jets, helicopters, transport, UAV’s, electronic warfare and air-control. “At first the course was designated only for fighter jets”, said Major Dan, deputy commander of “The Flying Dragon” squadron. “Afterwards it was expanded to helicopters and then to the other platforms as well. This is the only course that deals with leading in this way and we aspire to always keep it relevant for all platforms”.
Opening the Mind
Every aircraft formation has a leader in charge of commanding and guiding the planes in the air. The flight skills of the leader have to be excellent and he is required to be both professional and responsible. In addition, he has to understand the mission and sometimes make difficult decisions with courage and resourcefulness. That vision stands at the base of the course, which aspires to train the best air crew members for operational leadership in the squadrons. “Only mature, experienced soldiers who can handle complex challenges and pressure are chosen for the course”.
The ground leadership workshop was held through the week in preparation for the following aerial workshop. It included versatile educational content, exposing the participants to the world of air control in the IAF and presents them with flight-related situations. The teams received numerous lectures conducted by military and civil officials who told mind-opening stories. “The course forces the participants to deal with dilemmas regarding responsibility”, said Major Dan. “It is a great opportunity for them to temporarily detach themselves from the activity in the squadrons and deal with complex situations with which they may come across at some stage”, added Captain Idan from the “Knights of the Twin Tail” squadron.
One of the dilemmas which was presented was that of Lieutenant Colonel Roni’s, who commanded a raid in Lebanon. In September 1997, combat soldiers from the IDF Special Forces Unit “Shayetet” went out on a secret operation in Lebanon. Roadside charges laid in the raid area exploded near the force, and many soldiers were killed and injured. The initial rescue force landed in the spot and began with the evacuation. The force stayed there for a long time, and continued the evacuation despite the IAF commanding officers’ pressure to end the event.
Lieutenant Colonel Roni presented the participants with a story of leadership under fire and made them think about what they would do in the same situation – would they have listened to the controller pleading them to finish the evacuation, or would they hold their ground like the rescue team? Would they have stayed to complete their mission while risking their lives in order to bring the wounded and the deceased back home?
Air Crew Members, Basketball Coach’s, and Everything in Between
Beside extensive professional knowledge, the course also focused on the interpersonal aspect of leadership. The course sparked a lot of questions about challenges in the field, when it is wise to lead, when to let go, and the positions of every participant in his squadron.
“You must have a sense of who in on your team, only them will they be able to grow”, shared the basketball coach Oded Katash, who took part in the enriching week. “Remember that a failure is a chance to improve and to be ready to face the next one”. Surprisingly, the position of a commander and a coach are sometimes similar. “A basketball coach does not in fact lead in the same situations as a commander, but there are similar elements like rapidly-changing environment and uncertainty”, said Major Dan. “People in leadership positions are always required to set a great personal example, withstand and give criticism, and execute rapid decision-making”.