IAF bases practiced execution of missions following missile attacks hits to base infrastructure, as a part of a rise in the frequency of functional continuity training exercises in the 2016 work program.
David Greenwald | Photography: Hagar Amibar | Translation: Ohad Zeltzer Zubida & Ofri Aharon
IAF Airbases practiced executing operational activity under missile strikes in bases, all as a part of the rise in frequency of training for the issue the IAF listed last year. As a part of an exercise, the Flight Bases simulated scenarios of direct hits to main infrastructure, such as runways, hardened air craft shelters, gas stations and weapons factories.
“We don’t only practice entrance in to a safe-rooms, but the execution of missions under rocket fire. One of the challenges is to make sure that all of the information flows to the correct points and to manage the events on a basic level. What do we do when a factory is damaged? Who takes care of the wounded? How long will it take to fix a damaged runway?” shares Lt. Col. Shay, Flight Squadron Commander in the”Tel-Nof Airbase. “This is very important practice for the base and the whole force and is considered to be central in this year’s work program”.
One of the scenarios which were emphasized in Tel-Nof was a missile hitting the arms factory, which is responsible for assembling the bombs and bringing them to the flight lines. The Technical Division Servicemen and women practiced the opening of an alternative factory from which the bombs will travel to the operational squadrons. “In an exercise such as this, we test amongst other things the readiness of our alternative sites”, said Maj. Yossi, a division commander in the base’s Technical Squadron. “The most important thing to us is to continue manufacturing at a high pace and to bring the weaponry to its destination”.
Emphasizing Functional Continuity in 2016
The issue of functional continuity was highly emphasized in the IAF’s training exercises during past years and will be emphasized even further in the 2016 work program. The IAF HQ has shared that this year there will be a rise in simulations, as a part of the understanding that in time of war in the northern arena, the enemy will use accurate rockets and missiles in order to attack IAF bases and to disrupt its activities.
“Beyond the technical practice, the operational squadrons, the technical squadron and the flight squadrons trained for the mental difficulty of the scenario. It is hard to bring people in training to the level of uncertainty and insecurity that a real war will bring, but despite this, we do everything in our power in order to practice mental flexibility – how to find a creative solution for any problem”, shares Lt. Col. Ilan, the “Edge of the Spear” Squadron Commander. “For example, if a missile falls close to a HAS and shrapnel blocks the aircrafts ability to move towards the runway, we will drive the plane from another direction. On the other hand, we can’t anticipate every scenario we’ll have to find solutions for in time of war. This is one of the reasons that functional continuity training is gaining momentum”.
Functional Continuity in the “Iron Dome”
The Aerial Defense division is also exercising functional continuity – in its own way. The “Iron Dome” Batteries are dispersed around Israel and are sometimes integrated into urban areas, such as the battery that is located in Eilat which is responsible for the southern part of Israel. Some of the scenarios trained in the Eilat battery battalion last week included alerts of injured citizens in the center of Eilat, a trapped soldier in a trailer that lit on fire and a missile that hit the battery.
“This is a place that seems quiet, however surprises can arise”, explained Maj. Avi Vaknin, commander of the battery. “A strike in Eilat, in which two million people pass through per year, is likely to cause psychological damage. As a commander, it is important for me to prepare the battery to deal with anything”.
“I want to know that if my friend will suddenly be injured and will lie on the ground bleeding, I will have a way to help him or will know exactly what I have to do in such critical moments”, stated Corporal Efi Atia, a technician in the battery that participated in the exercise. On the way to achieving an improvement in the battery’s abilities, representatives from the Fire Department in the school of aerial defense guided the battery personnel how to control a fire. The first aid team simulated a variety of injuries using make-up and taught the basics of first aid. “Don’t wait for a commander or ignore things, be aware and responsible and be sure to care for such events yourself in order to save lives”, asked Maj. Vaknin of the soldiers and officers of the battery.
Other than the training for emergency events, the battery exercised operational abilities, such as simulating targets that reached the Interception Management Center and the interceptors and officers needed to intercept while dealing with other operational issues.
Behind every officer that operated the Interception Management Center, stood another officer that guided him to deal with unique scenarios in the Sinai peninsula arena that were built for training and through the conversation with the Control Unit, the battery’s war room and ballistic image management system together.
The battery’s location, which protects Eilat region, was proven as strategic during 2014 Operation “Protective Edge” when a rocket landed in the “Club Hotel” parking lot in the city and there were no batteries deployed in the area. “Today we understand the need to be maximally alert”, clarified Maj. Vaknin.