Are you mentally ready for combat?

The Israeli air force (IAF) considers the mental status of its personnel as important as honing skills on the ground and in the air.

What would you do without a squadron commander? How do you keep alert during long hours of flight? How do you deal with uncertainty during a war?

At a workshop held by the “First Jet” squadron, the pilots encountered not only complex scenarios, but also difficult mental challenges

A few days ago, aircrews from the squadron at the Ramat-David air base took part in a special workshop that included complex flight plans on the F-16C, difficult dilemmas and mental challenges typical to those encountered in an emergency.

During the workshop, which was held at Uvda air base, conscripts and career soldiers from the squadron went out on training flights, without knowing how they would end.

The scenarios had been “injected” – such as a mid-air change in mission or losing a plane, or even falling into enemy captivity.

“During the workshop we were trained in a variety of unexpected situations,” explains First Lieutenant ‘G’, who took part in the workshop. “[These ranged] from many complex flight plans to ground missions, such as the appointment of a deputy squadron commander, escape and rescue scenarios and simulations of tough situations – all in an atmosphere of almost complete uncertainty.” He was quoted on the IAF’s website.

Unlike other training sessions and exercises, the goal of mental preparation is to push the aircrews to the edge and have them confront complex situations – in the air or on the ground.

“The workshop is very important on both an operational level and a mental level,” adds 1 Lt ‘G’. “Fighting is difficult and exhausting. You have to keep your cool when many things are happening around you, and you don’t know what’s going to happen. Mental strength is no less important than aerial performance.”

The outcomes of the workshop are being analysed, and the results will be used to improve future workshops intended to prepare the IAF’s personnel for almost any possible scenario.

In Israel the list of potential scenarios is seemingly endless.

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