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SECURING AMERICA, STRENGTHENING ISRAEL

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2012 Sees Two Delegations of Cadets and Midshipmen Travel to Israel

2012 saw JINSA’s Military Academies Program in Israel double in size, allowing 57 future U.S. military officers from the U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis and the Coast Guard Academy to experience Israel in a hands-on manner that emphasized personal interactions with Israelis from all backgrounds but especially their IDF counterparts.

A charitable foundation grant enabled JINSA to expand the program in 2012, conducting two consecutive trips to Israel with the first trip spanning May 30 to June 17 and the second from June 23 to July 10. The addition of the second trip enabled JINSA to reinstate the Coast Guard as a participant academy. The Coast Guard has been and will be facing new international maritime challenges in the coming years and the connection and exposure to Israel is important for these future Coast Guard commanders and leaders.

The visits emphasized having the American cadets and midshipmen meet and engage in discussion with young Israeli officers, highlighting the role of the military in democratic countries, similarities and differences in officer schooling, and building bridges for future contact between their respective military establishments.

The program’s success is continually assessed through post-trip surveys and essays submitted by trip participants – more than 500 to date. Each year, JINSA compiles these essays and publishes a full report that imparts the participants’ views on the program’s overall influence on them as future military leaders of our country; how their misconceptions about Israel were changed with the program; and what made the biggest impression on them. The 2011 Report can be accessed here and the 2012 Report can be accessed here.

This year’s participants clearly indicated that their understanding of the complexity of the Middle East was dramatically enhanced as nearly all participants comment on the differences between the Israel they have seen on television and the Israel they visited. They consistently note that the information obtained on the program will make them more successful military officers especially through a keener understanding of Israel’s democracy, civil society, and culture as well as a deeper knowledge of the U.S.-Israel alliance.

The rigorous itinerary was constructed to meet the educational, religious, social, historical and security requirements of the participants. The cadets and midshipmen traveled nearly the entirety of the country experiencing major historical, religious and strategic sites. They visited Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, the Galilee, the Golan Heights, Beersheva, and the Dead Sea. They climbed Masada and hiked in the Negev Desert.

They receive a college-level education in the problems of the Middle East region, an area that will be of continuing concern to American military planners for the foreseeable future. To that end, the cadets and midshipmen met with military officers, government officials, journalists, professors as well as ordinary Israelis.

The trip itinerary included briefings and extended question-and-answer sessions with high-level Israel Defense Force (IDF) officers, retired senior intelligence and national police officers, leading academics and journalists.

JINSA arranged for a group of IDF junior officers to be embedded with the cadets and midshipmen ensuring that a sharing of experiences would occur. In the words of one of the academy escort officers, “Intensive interaction with young Israeli Defense Force officers provided cadets and midshipmen with an understanding of the officer corps in another country.”

IDF Lone Soldiers (those whose families live abroad) joined the participants for a Shabbat dinner.

The two-and-a-half-week Military Academies Program in Israel continues to provide a positive, in-depth experience for the next generation of America’s military leaders. It imparts the reality of Israel, its past and recent history, its security requirements and the capabilities it brings to meeting its defense needs and supporting Western interests in a crucial part of the world.

Jewish Institute for National Security of America
1101 14th Street, NW, Suite 1110
Washington, D.C. 20005

(202) 667-3900 Office • info@jinsa.org