Following the organizational changes in the IAF’s Operational Headquarters, the Aerial Defense Division is rebuilding itself.The change will be realized as a comprehensive structural change including the dismantling of the “Wings”, development of combatant training courses and the addition of a Deputy Division Commander position.
A military vehicle leaves the “Palmahim” Airbase at 8:00 A.M to Southern Israel in order to repair a technical malfunction in a “Patriot” battery. Simultaneously, another vehicle begins its journey, also southward, in order to repair a malfunction in an “Iron Dome” battery. What sounds like the beginning of a math problem was a guiding question in the restructuring of the Aerial Defense Division, which is entering the implementation phase as we speak.
“The first thing I did when I entered the position was ask myself ‘what kind of division have I arrived in, what has changed here and mostly – how can we become more efficient'”, shares Brig. Gen. Zvika Haimovich, the Aerial Defense Division Commander. “The threat has changed, the operational perception has changed and our abilities as a division – in correspondence with our enemies’ abilities, have also advanced. In my point of view, leadership means recognizing change and moreover, to outline a path to implement it”.
“A system which provides a response to technological threats”
In fact, the Aerial Defense Division is facing one of the most significant changes it has undergone since its establishment in 1950. This is a process which is being personally led by Brig. Gen. Haimovich and under him, there are work teams which have recently begun planning the implementation phase which will be held in the second half of this year.
The division’s current structure includes two “wings”: one which focuses on active defense missions and under which “Iron Dome”, “Arrow” and “David’s Sling” Batteries operates. The other wing is responsible for defending the country’s skies and focuses on defense against aircraft penetration into Israeli territory and under which “Patriot” Batteries operate.
In November 2016 things will look a bit different. The mission based wings will be disbanded and the existing battalions will all be transferred to the command of the division commander and the assisting response given to each wing separately until now, will operate as a single organization deployed all over the country – the answer to the Aerial Defense Division’s “Math Problem”, which will significantly make its operational activity more efficient.
The Division Commander position will shift to further engagement in operational activity and the position of Deputy Division Commander – which will lead the administrative field, will be added to the new organizational structure.
“A system which provides a response to technological threats and on the other hand can deal with the ground field has been produced. After all, the little things are important, deploying a battery, transporting the launchers and building a tent for cover”, says Meirav Zur, the civilian organizational consultant, seasoned in organizational changes in the IAF, which is accompanying the process.
The basis for the organizational change, in addition to streamlining, is the change in the operational reality and the improvement of the existing system’s abilities and the ones which will be absorbed in the future. “Today, the borders between countries are blurred and we cannot mark where the Hezbollah, Hamas or Isis are. This blur along with the fact that the fight is against terror organizations and not against countries, a situation is created in which it is necessary to erase the borders between countries on the perceptual level and create a 360 degree shield of defense”, explains the Division Commander. “If we would have once spoken about the threat from Lebanon or Gaza, today we do not have the privilege to look at only one area”.
Alongside countries’ blurring borders, weapons system borders blur as well. “System which used to deal with one mission, have become dual systems which deal with aerial defense missions and active defense simultaneously”, Zur emphasizes. “Everyone does everything now, ‘Iron Dome’ for example, which was always responsible for active defense, will now also cover aerial defense in its new configuration and the new ‘David’s Sling’ system which will soon be absorbed in the division, will arrive as a dual system”.
This blur, brings an integrative operational perception according to which the battalion commanders all sit at the same table without wing distribution and think in a mutual and integrative way.
“We have courageously re-looked the situation”
The change in the division’s structure will also reach the field, to the combatant training course in the Aerial Defense Academy, which trains the division’s future combatants.
“We have changed all of the training courses, the academy is in the process of developing 34 training courses and there is not a single course which isn’t changing”, states Brig. Gen. Haimovitch. “We have developed a unified combatant training course which matches the integrative perception. Following the change, the young combatant will receive the training for the specific system he will be operating only at the end of his training and not at the beginning”. Additionally, the young combatants will enter the interception axis sooner, train with simulators at an early stage and the Officers Course is expected to also change: “The change in the training courses will help the combatants and the officers in the division develop a better systemic understanding”, Zur says.
“We looked at the situation with an open, courageous and bold point of view when we began working on the organizational structure change and we chose unique solutions which do not exist ‘on the shelf’, not in the IDF nor IAF. The Aerial Defense Division will become significantly stronger throughout 2016 and will better utilize its people”, Brig. Gen Haimovitch promises.
“An organization which does not renew itself and is not flexible in the face of a new reality becomes stagnate. It becomes less and less relevant in current reality. The Aerial Defense Division and the IAF take responsibility and courageous command when leading an internal makeover”, says Zur. “The change indicates a strong organizational culture in the IAF, which has the ability to deal with a complex and dynamic reality. To always get used to it and not be afraid of change – embracing challenges instead of shying away from them”.