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First Druze colonel in Israeli Air Force takes command of maintenance unit

Col. Awad Suleiman “burst through the glass ceiling, thereby forming an example and an inspiration for so many,” says his commander.

Israeli Air Force Col. Awad Suleiman (right) took command of Air Maintenance Unit 22, becoming the first Druze colonel to do so, in a ceremony on Aug. 11, 2021. Credit: IAF.
Israeli Air Force Col. Awad Suleiman (right) took command of Air Maintenance Unit 22, becoming the first Druze colonel to do so, in a ceremony on Aug. 11, 2021. Credit: IAF.

The Israeli Air Force held a historic changing-of-the-guard ceremony on Wednesday at Tel Nof Airbase, south of Tel Aviv, when the first Druze colonel took command of Air Maintenance Unit 22.

Col. Awad Suleiman replaced Col. Roman Kupershmidt, with the latter officer charged with the IAF’s Fixed Wings Group.

During the ceremony, Brig. Gen. Shimon Tsentsiper, head of the Material Directorate, said “in order to meet its missions, the IAF requires the capabilities of the technical units—the expertise, the professionalism, the ability to conceive and the operational capability, which is first class at the global level.”

He added that Suleiman will “safeguard a high level, which integrates professional abilities, dedication, and extraordinary interpersonal skills. He burst through the glass ceiling and became the first officer from the Druze community to become an air-force colonel, thereby forming an example and an inspiration for so many that I am sure will follow him.”

In December, the IAF promoted Suleiman to the rank of colonel, making him the first Druze to attain such a position.

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