Moments before 2017 began, the IAF’s senior command forum gathered to debrief the passing year and discuss the principles of next year’s work program. Every year is unique, but it seems that the passing year and the one to come are uniquely complex. On the one hand, global changes – involving the Middle East and Global Superpowers – occurring at a dizzying pace and on the other hand, internal changes in the IDF regarding the new career service model and shortening of the mandatory service period.
It seems that the interior and external challenges significantly influence the response to various threats and challenges. But the IAF’s senior command forum knows that in-depth debriefing and designing an accurate yet versatile and flexible plan will help the IAF meet the goals it set. “You prove that the impossible is possible”, said Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, IAF Commander and spoke about the IAF’s responsibility and significance. “In practice and on a daily basis, we design the country’s security, identify operational opportunities initiate and lead boldly and creatively”.
Photography: Celia Garion
Response to Various Challenges
The Heads of the IAF Directorates presented the focal points and components of this year’s work program. From power build-up and acquisition, through the coming year’s training program, to operational activity in light of multiple threats. They presented intelligence activity and the IAF’s attempts to widen its target bank and integrate abilities. Another focal discussion point was the growing field of simulators. The senior commanders said that flight hours will be diverted from the air to simulators and that the IAF will widen its use of simulators in various fields. This year’s crown jewel – a comprehensive international joint training exercise with the participation of eight countries will be held in Ouvda AFB and led by the IAF’s Air Division. The Head of the Air Support and Helicopter Division presented the joint fire effort, the coming year’s cooperative training exercises and operations and the preparations for ground maneuvers, from abilities to common language.
The Technical Division, which consists of a third of the IAF’s manpower, faces challenges in two main fields: technology and personnel. It must maintain its senior servicemen and women and simultaneously integrate new personnel, while promoting recruitment of new servicemen and women from general and technological high school programs. In the maintenance division, which is responsible for the maintenance of over 700 active platforms, the importance of knowledge retention rises significantly.
Certainty in Uncertainty
2017, the second year of the five-year “Gideon” plan, holds budgetary certainty that allows the IAF to plan ahead while facing regional uncertainty. Brig. Gen. Tal Kelman, The IAF Chief of Air Staff, presented the five main issues in IAF preparation for battle: aerial supremacy, cyber warfare, functional continuity in combat, the underground theatre and precise fire. The factors that designed the 2017 work program were discussed throughout the day included regional instability, the “campaign between wars”, the “Gideon” program and the integration of the “Adir” (F-35I).Operational readiness, improvement of preparedness and maintaining personnel are the three focal points of 2017’s work program.
“The IAF’s attack ethos is combined and strengthened by its defensive divisions”, said IAF Chief of Air Staff. “We will adapt the IAF to strategic changes, will continue strengthening and maintain and improve our current order of power. We will maintain budgetary balance between daily routine and future improvement, we will maintain the quality and quantity of people in the IAF”.
Photography: Mor Tzidon
At the end of the day, the IAF’s test is clear: being a decisive force and shortening the campaign. This bottom line is created by several processes that ultimately make up the yearly work program. “Operational preparedness for surprise incidents”, emphasized Maj. Gen. Eshel. “The ability to respond from 0-100. As sharp, effective and escalation-preventive as possible. We will tie all of the details of the plan together to the supreme mission”. One of the main processes that will be implemented this year is the integration of the “Adir” stealth fighters. “This isn’t just an operational capability. It is a systemic capability with greater potential to bring change than we can imagine”.
But above all platforms and processes, the greatest challenge of 2017 is people. The IAF works hard, but there is always room for improvement, beginning with multi-dimensional attention to each individual in various circles – professional, personal and familial. 2017 begins with an intensive work plan. “Values are a way of life”, said Maj. Gen. Eshel to the senior command forum, and added his expectation that the ample activity be performed in this way.
Photography: Mor Tzidon