Six months after IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot decided to establish a military cyber arm, this week the new branch’s first six cadets completed their officers training course. Since the decision was made, the IDF has been laboring on the construction of both defense and attack systems, and there already have been some very impressive achievements, according to Ma’ariv.
An IDF official explained to the newspaper the circumstances which had led to the creation of the new military branch, as “many changes have altered the cyber world.” New technologies, shifting threats, sophisticated enemies and the permanent chase after next development in the field, have motivated the founders of the new branch, which is trusted with protecting Israel’s kinetic space during the next conflict. According to IDF assessments, only 60% of the next war will be fought in armed conflict, while 40% will be warfare—both defense and offense—in the cyber world, where “you can’t see the bullets but must identify the enemy anyway.”
The new branch appears to be different from the United States Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM), an armed forces sub-unified command subordinate to United States Strategic Command. Located in Fort Meade, Maryland, the US unit’s role is to centralize command of cyberspace operations, organize existing cyber resources and synchronize defense of US military networks. The USCYBERCOM is a managerial outfit, while it appears that the IDF branch will be expected to actually do the virtual fighting.
The six officers of the IDF cyber corps who completed their military training this week form a trailblazing team, the first to be positioned in the telecom protection division. “The officers are highly qualified professionals who have been carefully selected, and they will be placed in key positions and be part of an historical development,” the IDF source told Ma’ariv. “Some will take on positions that have been designed just for them,” the source added.
Maj. Itti Sagi, who is in charge of corps-specific training for graduates of the IDF officer training school, told Ma’ariv about the new cyber officers that “wherever they go, they will have a brand new status, whether it’s in establishing a team or a whole department. They don’t see the bullets, but they still need to meet the enemy and recognize it. Even when there’s a lull in the action, they always look for the threat and maintain operational tension.”
The last officers training course also included engineers, developers, hardware designers, some serving in the Academic Reserves, who will be integrated into a variety of roles in the telecom division. “An engineer or a cyber expert alone can’t create a new system,” explained Maj. Sagi. “The key is teamwork. At the end of corps-specific training, the cadets practiced working together — programmer, engineer and cyber, whose joint effort brings results.”