They receive the operational commands, assign the missions to the technicians and make sure everything is on track. Meet the commanders of the IAF Hardened Aircraft Shelters (HAS)
Nadav Berger | Translation: Eden Sharon
Not many people outside the IAF are familiar with the position of the commanders of the hardened aircraft shelters (HAS) in the squadrons and technical branches. But despite their partial anonymity, the HAS commanders are among the pillars of the technical division, inasmuch as they run the entire operation in the HAS, command the soldiers, direct information and missions, as well as give the final green light before every takeoff.
“You are the spearhead of the technical division“
Every operational squadron in the IAF has a number of hardened aircraft shelters, or hangers, and each hanger has its own commander. During a celebratory event held this week, the IAF praised these commanders and their intense work. “During Operation ‘Protective Edge’ the IAF operated in order to defend, to strike and to assist the ground forces. We carried out thousands of sorties, dropped thousands of bombs and intercepted hundreds of rockets fired by the enemy on civilian population”, said IAF Head of Materiel Directorate, Brigadier General Ran Bashevitz. “The ones that enabled this intense level of activity were the soldiers of the technical division commanded by you”.
The HAS commanders also serve as professional information sources in charge of carrying out a safe sortie and giving the green light prior to the takeoff. “I run the daily routine of the HAS”, says Sergeant Major Yigal, Commander of HAS 13 in the “First Fighter” Squadron for the last 20 years. “It is my responsibility to receive the orders, explain the soldiers what has to be done, make sure everything is on track and assist if necessary”.
Between the Helicopter and the HAS
In the helicopters squadrons, the position of the HAS commanders is even more complex, as the commanders join the teams in the mission due to the need for airborne mechanics. “I am usually the first to arrive and the last to leave”, states Sergeant Major Mariano, HAS Commander from the “Defenders of the West” Squadron. “I am often required to fly in the middle of the workday, or start my shift after a night flight, which is a very challenging thing to do. I sometimes need to cut myself off the routine work at the hangar, change my mindset completely and return after a few hours and catch up”.
Aside the professional responsibility, the HAS commander are responsible for the wellbeing of their soldiers. “I need to be there for my soldiers, look after them and help them and their families if necessary”, explains Sergeant Major Mariano. “They know I am always available for them, even at 2 AM, because at the end of the day, I’m a HAS commander even at home”.