Graduates of a prestigious three-year training program took up their roles in Military Intelligence in recent days, and are expected to rise to leadership roles in the coming years, the commander of their course told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.

Maj. L. runs the Havatzalot (“Lilies”) program, that includes obtaining academic degrees for the cadets at the University of Haifa, military and intelligence training, leadership studies, and joining Military Intelligence units for at least six years.

“These are the elite of the elite, the best of the youths,” Maj. L. said. “We’re talking about a small group of people.”

In the past, cadets would begin the course by studying Middle Eastern affairs at the University of Haifa, and choose a second undergraduate degree; either philosophy, math, or computer science.

Now, however, due to the extensive changes in the region, the cadets take Middle East studies combined with international relations and sociology.

“Being an intelligence officer is a profession in every way. The cadets first learn how to formulate ideas academically – academic tools allow them to do a better job in the intelligence world. Then they undertake military and intelligence training. They do a combat basic training course, an officer’s course, and then an intelligence training course,” the commander said.

The change in the academic program is a reflection of the troubles “in the world around us,” Maj. L. explained.

In the past, Military Intelligence analyzed neighboring regimes that were controlled by set leaders, a pattern that has dominated the Middle East since the 1950s.

In the modern, chaotic era, Middle Eastern societies have a major influence on how their countries are run.

“The threats are very varied,” Maj. L. added. “We’re looking at enabling the cadets to know why these changes are happening. Then we give them training in intelligence techniques. In combination with their academic preparation, this makes their training more complete.”

During their time at the university, the cadets study alongside civilian students to expose them to other cultures.

Havatzalot is one of several paths for young people to join Military Intelligence, which is experiencing rapid growth and an upgrade in technological capabilities to cope with radical geopolitical changes.

Military Intelligence units benefit greatly from Havatzalot, Maj. L, said.

“We’re giving them [the army] gold, essentially,” he added. “Our vision is that they will be the next generation of Military Intelligence commanders. There is a big demand for these graduates in the system,” he said.

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