For Valentine’s Day: the unique relationships between the IAF’s sister squadrons are characterized by operational cooperation, exchange of knowledge, mutual aid and healthy competition. “The nature of our relationship carries a statement that even when cooperating, we need to be the best as a unit”
Tal Giladi | Translation: Ohad Zeltzer Zubida
IAF squadrons have always managed complex relationships, from operational and professional cooperation, mutual support and competition for the title of the best squadron, maintained by division-wide competitions, joint training exercises and geographical proximity. In honor of Valentine’s Day, the IAF celebrates the relationships between the force’s sister squadrons; between true friendship and healthy competition.
“Our squadron and the ‘Leaders of the Night’ Squadron have mutual flight material and much of our work is done together”, explains Lt. Avishay from the “Nocturnal Birds” Squadron. Both squadrons operate the veteran “CH-53” and share knowledge, operations and aircraft. At the base of the relationships between the IAF’s squadrons, stands routine operational cooperation between squadrons which operate the same aircraft or share a platform, and even share an Airbase.
“Our relationship is on the daily level”, shares Lt. Orli Ozeri, a Munitions Officer in the “Hornet” Squadron which operates the “Apache Longbow” combat helicopter. “We consult one another when problems arise, share equipment and identical munitions with the ‘Magic Touch’ Squadron”. In every squadron’s technical division there are a few soldiers who are qualified to maintain another aircraft in the division in order to help in the moment of truth and in complex and intensive operations. “We call the ‘Magic Touch’ Squadron our step sister – we will always come to their aid and they to ours”, adds Lt. Ozeri with a smile.
Competing for the “Alpha”
You won’t find only declarations of love and mutual help in the special relationships between the IAF’s squadrons, but also competition – an equally dominant element in the IAF’s nature. It is customary for each division to challenge its squadrons with a performance competition, which in essence is a training exercise for the division’s squadrons, but in practice is an opportunity to demonstrate unit pride and to prove which squadron is the queen of its division.
In the Jet Fighter Division, there is the yearly “Skewer” competition, as a part of which each Fighter Squadron deploys eight jets for a short but crucial sortie, during which the aircrews are required to execute attack missions while dealing with aerial and grounded threats. For the Combat Helicopter division, it’s the “Epilogue”, a shooting competition which places limitations, clear instructions, and one goal before the contenders: victory.
Following an intensive debriefing and nerve-racking refining of the results in IAF HQ, the victors receive a trophy from the IAF Commander, which is another cause for enhancement of motivation and striving for excellence amongst the competitors. “The competition between the squadrons is constructive and improving, performance competitions make us push ourselves to the limit of our abilities and aim for the top”, explains Lt. Ozeri. “If the other squadron was to win instead of us, we would bitterly congratulate them because we would be happy to have suitable competition, but would want to be the best”.
So what does the continuous struggle between squadrons attempting to prove themselves hold besides double the devotion and improved performances? Small and silly deeds which would bring a big smile to your face. In one of the “Epilogue” competitions a few years ago, when the “Hornet” Squadron hosted its fellow attack helicopter squadrons, small notes, wishing the air-crews good luck awaited them in the briefing room. But do not let the hospitality confuse you, the notes which were dedicated to the other squadrons bared the caption “Good Luck in your competition for second place”.