Sky Angels: Israel leads one of biggest search and rescue drills in world

Search and Rescue teams from six countries focused on inter-unit collaboration while saving lives.  

By Jack Gold, World Israel News

Multinational Search and Rescue units and Israel’s Air Force (IAF) Unit 669 concluded the Sky Angels 2018 exercise on Tuesday, one of the biggest such exercises in the world, held for the first time in Israel.

Special Forces from six countries – the U.S., Italy, Croatia, the Netherlands, Canada and the Czech Republic – trained in a variety of scenarios and focused on cooperation between the units.

Lt. Col. A., Commander of Unit 669 said that the exercise’s objective was “to improve the unit’s operational knowledge while learning from the experience of other sources.”

The two-week long drill included a week of basic training, followed by a week of mission-oriented drills, including combat extraction during warfare, advanced operational medicine, pilot extraction and mass-casualty incidents.

Unit 669 last month faced a real-time mass casualty incident when it participated in the extraction of casualties from a bus swept away by floods in Jordan.

Lt. Col. A’ noted that Sky Angels’ significance lay with the exercise’s broad international participation.

“It brings me great pride to see Israel host so many countries. Not many countries have held an extraction exercise of this sort, and the fact that we have indicates the strength of the IAF and SAR Unit 669 in particular,” the IAF commander said.

He also underscored the importance of interpersonal relationships between the various units as a critical factor for future operations.

“It was important for me that the unit would learn from international militaries – in exercises, doctrines and instruction. Mutual discourse is significant in all of them,” he said.

“One of the exercise’s main goals was establishing a good interpersonal infrastructure so that we would be able to consult with our international counterparts when operational dilemmas arise.”