MDAA’s own Major General John G. Rossi Fellow, CPT (P) Cody M. Davis, provides a first hand account of Iron Dome’s first engagements in combat:
“Late October 2012, I deployed my platoon with Delta Battery, 5-7 ADA from Kaiserslautern, Germany to Israel for an annual exercise, Austere Challenge – the world’s largest bilateral Air and Missile Defense exercise. The 2012 exercise was delayed by a few months from April to October due to increased tensions with Iran, however our element entered into what seemed to be a relatively peaceful and stable environment.
The mission was to rehearse missile defense contingency plan operations with the IDF. Austere challenge consisted of exercising U.S.-Israeli airspace control measures, maneuvers to validate contingency battle sites, and a U.S.-Israeli Patriot live-fire engagement of an unmanned aerial system. I was aware of Israel’s development of various missile defense systems – Arrow, David’s Sling, and Iron dome, but I lacked an in-depth understanding of the systems. We worked very closely with our Israeli partners where the IDF officers explained their previous Patriot engagements in the Persian Gulf War. Our unit even had the opportunity to hear an IDF general speak about air defense engagements in the Golan Heights during the Six-Day War, an enlightening experience for a young U.S. Army ADA officer.
While eating dinner on November 14th, 2012 I saw on the evening news that an air strike had taken place in Gaza. An IDF officer translated the headline to me as “we struck and killed Hamas’ military leader” (the equivalent of our Secretary of Defense) and asked “Are you going to war with us?” Netanyahu addressed the state of Israel that evening by introducing Operation Pillar Defense to counter Hamas’ effort to “open the gates of hell” on Israel. The next evening my platoon was to convoy from Southern Israel to home base.
As my platoon prepared our convoy we witnessed Israeli fighter jets taking off to bomb Gaza on an hourly basis. From the base we observed plumes of smoke in Gaza from miles away. While moving north towards Tel Aviv, we saw our first volley of Hamas’ rudimentary missiles with the multiple red streaks in the sky flying northward – our lives were potentially in the hands of a non-combat tested Iron Dome and skill IDF Air Defense officers. Iron Dome fired back quickly with a steep and rapid descent engaging a target that produced many small explosions miles above into the night sky. It had dawned on me that I was witnessing history in the first ever successful combat engagements by Iron Dome.”
Multiple lessons learned are pulled from the Israel’s use of Iron Dome during Operation Pillar Defense:
- Iron Dome is a combat-tested system that saves lives and provides stability to the region.
- Iron Dome is fixed-site and “ready now” system that deters rocket and short-range ballistic missile threats.
- Iron Dome is effective in missile conservation with the ability to track a missile threat to the ground impact point.
- Iron Dome alleviates the burden of mass volume fires from layered high altitude missile defense (Arrow, David’s Sling), specifically designed to negate rockets and SRBMs.
Israel’s dominant offensive capabilities, superior intelligence, and diplomatic sanctions cannot guarantee the defense of it’s nation. The Iron Dome system was absolutely critical in saving lives and preventing a war. The Iron Dome was specifically developed and fielded to address the short range rocket and missile threat from a point-defense platform. Israeli-Palestinian conflict proves that some defense, rather than no defense, saves lives and prevents war. Initial development, funding and the expedited fielding of Iron Dome proves that a direct threat is effectively addressed through industry innovation and cooperative nation support. Recognizing the limits of proactive left-of-launch shaping operations, MDAA applauds the rapid industry innovation, coordination, and fielding of Iron Dome to produce a system explicitly tailored to the short range threat saving lives and preventing war.
On May 13th, 2021, the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance hosted a Virtual Roundtable Discussion titled “Live and Under Fire: An MDAA Virtual Discussion” with a panel that sought to discuss and help the audience understand the crisis that was underway in Israel and how Israel’s multi-layered defense system embodies innovation and operational success in addressing it.
Under an existing threat of attack and a sky emblazoned in smoke streaks that followed the path of their Hamas rockets, Tal Inbar gave exceptional insight from Tel Aviv on the threat that was pervading in the region and how the Israeli military was able to defend against it successfully. Now, MDAA is honored to have Mr. Tal Inbar on board as a Senior Research Fellow.
This is not the first time Tal has offered his expertise to the efforts of MDAA. On April 22nd, 2016, at the MDAA Roundtable event “Addressing the North Korean Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States” hosted at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, Tal gave a testimony to Congress on the authenticity of ICBM threats coming out of the DPRK. Tal followed up this appearance by speaking again at an MDAA Roundtable on October 2nd, 2018, for the 2018 European Missile Defender of the Year in Berlin.
Tal comes to MDAA with decades of experience in the field. He served as the Head of the Space and UAV Center at Israel’s Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies for 15 years. He currently is a Board Member at D-MARS and a National Coordinator for the World Space Week Association. He has dealt with strategic and technical assessments of adversarial missile programs and briefed representatives from Government organizations worldwide. He has been a visiting speaker for various think tanks and research institutes. He is also a speaker at various HCoC conferences and UNIDIR conferences in Geneva and the Security and Defense subcommittee of the European Parliament in Brussels. In addition, he has presented at the IMDA Missile Defense Conferences since 2013.
We here at MDAA are incredibly excited to have Tal assist us in the mission at hand. Getting to work right away, Tal has already contributed to updating our Iranian Fateh-110 threat page and helping create our new threat page for the Iranian Raad- 500 missile. We strive to continually bring in expertise from around the world and from various fields of thought. Tal adds to the legacy we have built and continue to bring forward on the requirement and critical necessity for Missile Defense.