“We were the Pioneers” “We were the Pioneers” “We were the Pioneers” In a festive event, a unit of the “Arrow” battery, the “Protecting Sword” has celebrated a decade since coming into active duty. The event, during which a change of command ceremony took place, was attended by some 500 guests

Gal Goldstein

“13 years ago, at the end of 1997 I had the great privilege to be appointed as the commander of the set-up team of the “Protecting Sword” unit”, recalls the leaving commander Lieut. Col. Noam Inziger. “There were 23 of us when we arrived to the southern part of Palmahim base. It was all sand dunes, and all we had was two radars, both still in development stages. Active defence was still science fiction. We were the pioneers”.
The honourable guests at the event (including Anti-Missile Forces Commander Brig. Gen. Doron Gavish, Central Forces Commander Colonel Shachar Shochat, Palmahim air base commander Brig. Gen. Itay, and several generations of unit’s serviceman), stood around the various “Arrow” systems deployed around them, trying to recall the early days. “The unit has grown exponentially over the decade”, said Lieut. Col. Inziger. “We have two fully operating batteries, and very able and well prepared force of interceptors”.
Lieut. Col. Inziger took the festive opportunity to officially step down from his command post, and pass the role to Lieut. Col. Uri Eyal. “I’ve been in command of the unit for the past two and a half years. There is a great deal of satisfaction in commanding a unit which you yourself established. Today the unit is much larger and has much greater capabilities. There is a great deal of responsibility in this role. I learned to appreciate the national importance of the mission this unit is assigned to (active national defence)”.
“Uri, I am proud to pass along to you, the command over a remarkable and very able unit, prepared to do anything required of it. I don’t think that there is anyone more suitable for this role than you. I am proud of you. Please remember, that I am always here for you”.
In response to growing missile threat (there is evidence of active surface-to-surface missile acquisition by Arab states, and terrorist organizations like Hezbollah), the “Arrow” program was launched. By initiating and jointly cooperating with the United States on a series of technological initiatives such as the “Magic Wand” and “Iron Dome”, Israel is looking to actively protect itself against the growing missile arsenal of its enemies.