Every IAF activity in countries around the world is secured by the Aircraft and Overseas Delegations Security Unit’s combatants. Beside a revolutionary force buildup process in the unit, in 2015 a sharp rise in the number of the unit’s active days overseas has been registered following the increase in terror attacks around the world
November 13, 2015, Paris. A dark cloud covers the French capital after eight terrorists executed a number attacks in locations all over the city, 130 people murdered and the world stunned. This attack was one of many which took place over the course of 2015 in different areas in Europe and were committed by extreme Islamist organizations. Simultaneously, the terror threat on Israeli targets around the world has only been growing as the years pass.
While this has been happening, there has been a significant rise in IAF over-seas activities. International cooperation has become a focal and strategic target in the IAF’s activity, in the aspect of improving training abilities, sharing knowledge and establishing the IAF’s position as a leading and significant force. However, how is it possible to increase international cooperation, while minimizing the security threat to the IAF’s servicemen and women and its aircraft in such a complex reality?
The Aircraft and Overseas Delegations Security Unit is one of the most interesting units in the IAF and its mission is one: maintaining the safety of IAF soldiers and aircraft when they are outside Israel’s borders. In fact, every military aircraft which leaves Israel and lands in a foreign country, will be boarded also by the unit’s men in order to make sure that the mission is carried out successfully – and returns safely.
Photo by: Peter Makady
A significant rise in 2015 in the number of the unit’s active days overseas
The Aircraft and Overseas Delegations Security Unit’s men concluded 2015 with over 800 activity days overseas, double the amount they had in 2014. The reason, the unit’s men claim, is the increase in terror attacks overseas and the deep understanding in the senior rank that the danger is realer than ever, while at the same time, the significance of overseas deployments has become clearer.
“The intelligence situation report indicates a real rise in the terror threat on Israeli targets overseas”, Says Lt. Col D, the Flight Squadron Commander in Sde-Dov Airbase, to which the unit belongs. “From the attackers point of view, it is easier to execute a terror attack against Israeli targets overseas than in Israel. Every IAF deployment, whether a small team or a large delegation to a training exercise outside of the country, receives comprehensive attention from the unit’s men”.
“The attack may be strategic and could cause psychological damage”
“The division is currently going through a revolutionary power buildup”, revealed Lt. Col. D. “During the past year, the unit has underwent significant changes that contributed its growth and establishment”. One of the central developments was the establishment of a new school, in order to make sure that the unit’s men maintain their operational fitness. Another significant change in their activity is their new permit to carry a weapon during operational activity outside Israel.
“Even with the many changes that have taken place this past year, the unit is a very small one. The completion of the missions depends mostly on the servicemen’s devotion and connection to the mission – to ensure that every IAF delegation returns to Israel safely”.
With the increasing terror attacks around the world, the unit’s mission is becoming more challenging and the future holds even more challenges. “Future terror attacks will be more complex and larger than those we are familiar with today. The terrorists will seem like locals and will do whatever it takes to stay under the radar”, ruled I’, a reservist from the unit with a history of service in the Israeli Security Agency, during a lecutre he held for the unit’s soldiers which concluded the terror attacks that took place in 2015 in Europe. “I don’t want to think of a situation in which they manage to attack an IAF aircraft or IAF soldiers outside Israel”, concluded Maj. M, the Unit Commander. “There can’t even be a chance of that happening. We give the most significant response, because a possible attack may be strategic and could cause psychological damage”.
Photo by: Peter Makady
In a tactical exercise conducted recently, the unit’s soldiers and reservists were required to deal with complicated situations: members of a delegation to a central training exercise in Europe, assemble in an auditorium for a briefing when suddenly a scream of “allahu akbar” is heard, followed by a suspicious object thrown into the center of the auditorium. What should the unit’s soldiers do in such a situation?
“The first step would be to throw the object as far as they can from the delegation members”, explained A, the exercise supervisor and a reservist in the unit. “The second thing is to extract the delegation members. We train in Israel as if we were outside of Israel. Following each training exercise, the unit’s level of fitness and readiness rises, they learn from each exercise and will thus become better security guards”.