Preparing For Every Scenario

Photo by Guy Ashash

Preparing For Every Scenario

All year, the squadrons have been preparing not only for challenging airstrike missions, but also for dealing with the “mental threat”

Photo by Guy Ashash

Preparing For Every Scenario

“When a person practices ahead of time the way in which he will react to different situations in fighting, he will know how to come up with the right solutions on time”

Photo by Guy Ashash

During Operation “Protective Edge”, IAF planes have gone out on hundreds of flights for a variety of missions. The aircrews feel the tense, enduring campaign and the technicians work additional hours, day and night. None of this is new to the soldiers of the force, who take part not only in training flights, but also in seminars on mental preparation

Noa Fenigstein

The soldiers of the “Valley” squadron, together with the supporting crews, have taken part in dozens of airstrikes with their F-16C/D jets, over the course of Operation “Protective Edge”. Despite the hard work over the last 24 days, the soldiers in the squadron who execute the missions continue working calmly and with a clear head, as if it were the first day of fighting. “The activities and the fighting are round the clock, but mentally speaking we were prepared for it”, says Major Ron, Deputy Commander of the “Valley” squadron at the Ramat David airbase. “We are mentally strong and completely prepared for the mission”.

However, a combat situation affects the mind: concern for friends and family, the heavy responsibility placed on shoulders of the soldiers, both combat and combat-support and the sense of uncertainty, all these are likely to adversely affect the operational abilities of the soldiers. As such, all year, the squadrons have been preparing not only for challenging airstrike missions, but also for dealing with the “mental threat”.

A Routine Day Amid the Chaos

“As human beings, we look for order and legality, while the fighting brings us a sense of instability or uncertainty”, explains Irit Staling, a social work at Ramat David airbase, who is responsible for mental preparation for the base. “This is the place for the commander to insert a stable daily routine, work in shifts. Creating an organized routine during a chaotic reality actually creates a sense of relative stability”. Even though it seems far removed from the air force, the ground maneuver in the Gaza Strip has changed the reality with which the aircrews deal. “Now the mission has changed. We are here not only to attack the enemy, but also to protect and provide cover for our forces on the ground”, stress Major Ron.

The pilots and weapon systems officers have to put aside their worries regarding the safety of their friends on the ground and execute their mission as soldiers.”Our way of thinking and planning has changed. It is connected to the ground and has become stricter. We are more alert and we are working slower and safer”.

Preparation Seminar

The preparation that allows the soldiers to successfully cope mentally is not done during the fighting, but rather before, during the routine. “Through the seminars, lectures and exercises, over a long period of time we build up the mental readiness for the many changes that occur during the fighting”, explains Irit. “We confront the soldiers with coping with the unexpected and we give them the knowledge and make mental preparation an organized system. When a person practices ahead of time the way in which he will react to different situations in fighting, he will know how to come up with the right solutions on time”.

 

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