The Aerial Defense Division recruits of August 2016 were sworn in yesterday. We joined their journey | For the first time: a unique training course for the “Arrow” interception system

Hadas Levav

The Aerial Defense Recruits of August 2016 stood, excited, before the Wailing Wall yesterday evening and were sworn into the IDF. The path to the ceremony was long and in order to take part in the ceremony, they were required to undergo a rigorous basic training period concluded by a special march.

The March of a Life Time
Thursday, 2:59 AM. The desert is silent and dark, only the twinkle of the stars above illuminate the new recruit tents in the Aerial Defense Academy. At 3:00 there was no trace of the calm that had encompassed the basic training area only seconds ago. “Scramble”, yelled the face painted commanders, who had already been ready for the inauguration march, watching the recruits preparing hurriedly while loudly counting down seconds.

They stood in rows and waited for their briefing. Despite a surprise wakeup call only minutes ago, they were alert and tensed, fully equipped and ready to begin. “You are about to undergo a march which symbolizes your transition from civilians to soldiers”, said Maj. Dror Elbahar, Commander of the Active Defense Course. “You will participate in this march once in your lives, so I want to see you give it your all”.

New Aerial Defense Combatants

Photography: Adi Abu

The march was led by Lt. Col. Dudu Ezra, Commander of the Training Department in the Aerial Defense Academy followed by two rows of recruits, singing and pushing each other onward. The commanders who were there from the beginning marched by their side, models of diligence and encouraged them to push themselves to their limits. After miles and miles, the sun slowly began to rise above the mountains and revealed the surrounding scenery. The recruits open the stretchers and ran all the way to the finish line – David Ben-Gurion Monument in Sde Boker.

“I made came to Israel from Russia in order to serve in the military and this march is a meaningful experience in my life”, shared Private Sergey, in training to become an “Iron Dome” combatant. “In the beginning it was hard for me, but my friends always lent a hand and helped me”, his course mate Private Raz added.

New Aerial Defense Combatants

Photography: Adi Abu

For the First Time: A Unique “Arrow” Training Course
After successfully completing the march, the excited recruits all arrived at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, for their inauguration ceremony. “There is nothing like a combatant on whose shoulders rests the responsibility of the first alert and who is the last barrier which stands before an aircraft, rocket or missile. This is a mission which requires vigilance, resolution and a very high level of professionalism”, said Brig. Gen. Zvika Haimovich, Commander of the Aerial Defense Division. “Know the weight of this responsibility, the fact that it is our turn to be a shielding force for our people and a component in the might of the state of Israel. The IAF’s Aerial Defense Division counts on you and your abilities to meet the challenge”.

New Aerial Defense Combatants

Photography: Adi Abu

For the first time, a unique “Arrow” combatant training course has been opened and the recruits of August 2016 will be the first to participate in it. Until now, soldiers who operated different system would undergo conversion training and now the recruits will arrive directly at the batteries upon completing their professional training. “We wanted the ‘Arrow’ unit to also have the ability to develop combatants and officers from the beginning, like every other system”, explained Lt. Col. Dudu. “They are very happy to receive the combatants we choose in training”.

New Aerial Defense Combatants

Photography: Adi Abu