The U.S. Army Security Assistance Command is known as “the Army’s Face to the World,” due to its close working relationships with more than 140 countries and security organizations around the globe. This vital mission was on full display when an Israeli delegation, led by Brig. Gen. Shimon Tsentsiper, Head of Israeli Air Force Materiel Directorate, visited Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, Feb. 22-24.
“The United States is our main ally,” said Tsentsiper. “We exchange and collaborate knowledge and technology that keeps us in the lead in terms of cutting-edge technologies against a variety of present and future threats. The IAF is the only force in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) that manages and is responsible of all aviation and air defense missions. That’s the reason collaboration with the U.S. Army in terms of aviation and air defense is so important.”
One of those cutting-edge technologies is the U.S. Army’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL), which is one of six Army modernization priorities for future readiness. It will provide Army aviation with transformational speed, range and convergence.
Developed to be lethal, durable and affordable, Future Vertical Lift provides an asymmetrical advantage in large-scale combat operations and helps the U.S. achieve decision dominance for the Joint Force in Multi-Domain Operations. The Army’s Future Vertical Lift Cross-Functional Team is located on Redstone Arsenal.
“We are currently exploring some force build up options for our attack helicopters. The Army Future Vertical Lift program could be an interesting possibility,” said Tsentsiper.
According to Tsentsiper the Israeli Air Force is currently looking to keep and maintain their modern fleet in the coming years. “We are looking for opportunities to collaborate with the U.S. Army and into learning innovative capabilities in maintenance and engineering,” said the general.
USASAC overseas and manages over 6,500 foreign military sales (FMS) cases in its security assistance portfolio. Through these cases, USASAC is able to build partner capacity, support combatant command strategies, and strengthen global partnerships in support of U.S. national security.
“Our motto is strength in cooperation, and it’s something we take very seriously. Our partners and allies are at the very bedrock of what we do. Security assistance through foreign military sales will continue to grow and play an increasingly important role within our partnerships,” said Brig. Gen. Garrick Harmon, USASAC commanding general.
USASAC’s FMS cases have many touchpoints with partners around the world, often bringing challenges to timeliness and efficiency, all while in-person visits have slowed significantly due to COVID-19 travel restrictions in recent years. However, USASAC relied heavily on its Security Assistance Liaison Office (SALO), staffed with military representatives from allied and partner nations, including Israel.
One of the many benefits of SALOs is having them co-located with the country case managers who handle FMS execution issues such as supply, requisition, transportation delivery, and budget/finance. This allows for easier interface and coordination, according to Michael Casciaro, the G-4 logistics management director at USASAC New Cumberland.
The Israeli Air Force (IAF) has a SALO located in New Cumberland, as well as a Foreign Liaison Officer (FLO) located at Redstone Arsenal. The IAF SALO addresses all logistical needs to support the IAF fleet availability and readiness. The IAF FLO is responsible for all technical related inquiries/information that the IAF needs in order to keep its fleet in the best condition.
“My main role is to keep the IAF and the U.S. Army connected all the time in terms of exchanging information that helps both sides improve in engineering and maintenance by sharing data, ideas and information,” said Maj. Rabeeh Fares, Israeli Air Force Liaison Officer to the U.S. Army.
The IAF has daily communication with the U.S. Army as the lead operator of all IAF aircrafts and other air defense systems, Fares explained.
FLOs and SALOs are vital in strengthening relationships with the U.S. Army, its partners and allies.
“Foreign Liaison officers help us understand cultures and better recognize each other’s challenges and viewpoints firsthand. We can build trust between our countries more quickly by interacting on a more rapid basis with our SALOs,” added Harmon.
Even with SALO and FLO representatives stateside, the head of the Israeli Air Force Materiel Directorate knows the importance of how a visit like this contributes to understanding the needs of the IAF towards future collaborations.
“That is key for a successful partnership, we believe that there is so much to learn from each other. We believe that being onsite in person is much more effective in terms of knowledge sharing and learning from each other,” said Tsentsiper.
During the visit to Redstone Arsenal, the Israeli delegation also visited multiple organizations on topics of defense, attack, sustainment and development, including the U.S. Army Materiel Command, U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, and the Program Executive Office – Aviation.
"We believe in the collaboration, knowledge sharing, and synergy of this excellent joint partnership. The United States has a variety of operational capabilities, and the Israeli Air Force brings speed, flexibility and operational experience due to the nature of our intense demanding environment. Combining our forces leads to better security for both countries," said Col. Ariel Dvorjetski, the head of IAF Aircraft Programs and Engineering Center.
Dvorjetski is responsible for the total life cycle management of all aircraft systems, the handling of the acquisition and initial fielding of new aircraft systems and upgrades, developing new materiel solutions, and the transitioning interesting technologies into militarily useful capabilities.