First Israeli cadets complete new IDF-U.S. Navy exchange program

The two cadets in the IDF’s prestigious Naval Officers Course spent 18 weeks at the USNA, completely immersing themselves in the life on campus – sleeping, eating and learning with American cadets.

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June 6, 2018 19:24
3 minute read.
Members of the U.S. Naval Academy graduating class stand to be sworn in during their commissioning a

Members of the U.S. Naval Academy graduating class stand to be sworn in during their commissioning and graduation ceremony at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, May 25, 2018.. (photo credit: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)

The first two Israeli cadets to take part in a navy exchange program with the US have returned after completing a semester at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis.

The two cadets in the IDF’s prestigious Naval Officers Course spent 18 weeks at the USNA, completely immersing themselves in the life on campus – sleeping, eating and learning with American navy cadets.

The exchange program, the first of its kind, also saw two American cadets spend several months training and studying alongside Israeli soldiers in the Naval Officers Course at the University of Haifa and getting involved in cultural and language immersion programs.

“I think it’s important that we went there, that we learned another culture, and it gave us the ability to look at our navy from the outside, at how our army functions,” one of the cadets told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.

“We learned the culture of the American navy, which is totally different from ours... from how they interact with higher-ranking officers to how they interact with each other,” he continued.

“It is totally different over there,” the other cadet said. “Over there, there is more of a focus on the university aspect, which is four years long, as compared to here, where it’s only two-and-a-half years and the rest is military drills.”

“The size is totally different. It’s huge with so many people. The attention to the military and the course is different,” the first cadet told the Post, explaining that because the US military is a professional army, “they really think of the future and invest in it.... It’s more a career, and therefore it’s geared more toward education, while here it’s more geared to the military.”


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Israel's Navy completes complex offensive, defensive drill, June 6, 2018 (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

At almost two-and-a-half years long, the Naval Officers Course is one of the most intensive programs in the IDF. At the end of the course, each graduate receives the rank of lieutenant junior grade – a rank at which one is responsible for commanding naval vessels – as well as a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Haifa. Graduates are committed to 61 months of additional military service.

The program in the US Navel Academy is four years long, and graduates of the course receive a bachelor of science degree and a commission as ensigns in the navy or as second lieutenants in the Marine Corps. Naval Academy graduates are committed to at least five years in the navy or Marine Corps.

More than a thousand students graduated from the Naval Academy this year.

The US Navel Academy has similar agreements with several other countries, including Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, Japan, Portugal, Singapore and Spain. According to the Capital Gazette, US Navel Academy is in talks to formalize additional agreements with Australia and Italy in the near future.

The two navies are close partners, and later this month Israel will participate – for the first time – in the biennial Rim of the Pacific multinational naval exercise, led by the US Third Fleet, off of the coast of Hawaii and Southern California.

RIMPAC, the world’s largest international maritime exercise, will be held from June 27 to August 2 and will see the participation of 26 nations, 47 surface ships, five submarines, 18 national land forces, and more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel.

Israel will be joining other first-time participants Brazil, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.

Other countries participating in RIMPAC 2018 are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, South Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Tonga and the United Kingdom.


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