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Learning from Israel's Experience (Israel Defense)

by August 19, 2015 Aviation

Israel has had to cope with an immense and diverse terrorism challenge in the last 60 years. This history led Israel to develop dependable security capabilities and made its society resilient and united. The experience gained by Israel has turned it into a role model for countries around the world.

The Galilee International Management Institute has been one of the forerunners in the effort to pass on Israel’s lessons to international practitioners. The institute, located in Nahalal, in the lower Galilee was established 25 years ago by Dr. Joseph Shevel, and it led by his energetic personality until now. He is proud to mention a lot of leaders in African countries that studied in the Galilee International Institute.

One of the courses in the institute offers a national security seminar that gives international high-ranking government officials, political decision makers and military and police officers the opportunity to learn from Israeli national security experts. The institute also offers seminars on Financial Management, Agriculture and Port Security.

The central goal of the two-weeks National Security seminar is to understand the term “national security” as a multi-faceted entity. Along with strong security and military capabilities, good foreign relations, an educated society, a stable infrastructure and an economy with a high level of technological advancement create the overall resilience of a country.

The practitioners contributing to this year’s seminar came from a variety of different countries: Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Angola, East Timor, Singapore and Fiji. For some of these international participants, the learning experience was more than just an enhancement of knowledge but also an essential practical assistance for their respective national development and security.

The seminar’s program includes lectures about strategic planning, the factors shaping modern national security and specific current challenges such as maritime and aviation counterterrorism. The Israeli perspective is presented with regard to the respective difficulties of the attendees’ countries – a unique approach to education for government officials: “The representatives of the Galilee institute visit the participants’ countries and look at their specific challenges. Then we adapt the program’s content accordingly,” says Gen. Brig. Baruch Levy, chairman of the Galilee institute. “In this way, we can give the right advice from Israel’s security repertoire that will provide the solutions needed in the respective countries.”

Aiming to provide professional experience and a broad outlook, the course includes lecturers from a wide range of different fields. One of the experts is Dotan Sagi, CEO of Lotan HLS & Defense. Sagi’s workshop includes a unique simulation of strategy and decision-making and uses realistic audiovisual aids. The strategic game that his company developed for governments to practice crisis management simulates a scenario in which the participants have to assume roles of different government bodies or deense entities. The goal is, as a group, to solve the crisis as quickly and thoroughly as possible. “This exercise made me more confident to be able to deal with a crisis scenario in the case of it actually happening in my country. It was an eye-opening learning experience”, says Joao Miguel, a senior official from Angola.

Former IDF spokesman and intelligence officer Brig. Gen. Ephraim Lapid provides the participants with Israel’s wide perspective by illustrating current challenges for the intelligence and military establishments and addresses the role of media and communications. His specific insights on issues such as cyber warfare and psychological warfare are especially valuable as information on these subjects is rarely shared between governments.

In field trips organized as part of the program, Lapid explains the connections of his theoretical knowledge with practical applications and ties the multiple dimensions of national security into the overall context. “By showing Israeli solutions to security issues, we encourage the participants to apply these ideas to their countries’ respective challenges”, says Lapid. Therefore, examples of Israel’s economy, infrastructure and society challenges are shown in the real world in order to offer potential solutions and to create the possibility of valuable business contacts along the way. This year’s field trip included a visit to the Gaza border, the Aeronautics Ltd. headquarters and the Barzilai University Medical Center in Ashkelon.

At Aeronautics, Israel’s leader in the field of UAVs, the delegation was given a unique insight into the company’s work process and technological innovations. Technical expertise as well as business cards were passed around.

At the Barzilai University Medical Center, Dr. Yaniv Sherer showed a presentation about the security difficulties the institution faced during Operation Gaza last year and how medical aid was provided to injured palestinians arriving from Gaza. This form of support during the conflict was met with great admiration by the participants. Examples of Israel’s self-perceived responsibility to provide humanitarian aid shed light on Israel’s unique national security perspective. “In the beginning, I wondered what the visit at the hospital had to do with our seminar. Then I realized that the various aspects of Israel’s national security are interconnected. Humanitarian responsibility, a strong economy, technological advancement, defense and intelligence are all equally important and together make up the country’s strength”, says Viliame Wilikilagi, Director of National Security in the Ministry of Defense in Fiji.

The appreciation for the practical assistance provided by the national security program of the Galilee Institute was visible in the ceremony at the end of the course. The participants’ speeches highlighted the significance of continued cooperation between Israel and African countries and the value of the relationships that were created by the participants among each other. For Senator Getrude Emma Mbura from Kenya, her time in Israel was dimmed by the news of the terror attacks on Kenya’s northern coast. The importance of the experience gained from the seminar became imminent. Despite the shock upon receiving news of the attacks, Mbura is determined to apply what she has learned: “When I go back home, I know exactly what to do. The learning experience here has given me a lot of knowledge and skills to deploy what is needed in my country right now.”