Israeli navy exercises.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The first two Israeli naval cadets to take part in an exchange with the United States Naval Academy (USNA) graduated from the prestigious Naval Officers Course on Wednesday.
The Israeli Navy signed the agreement with the United States Naval Academy for a semester exchange program in 2017 and saw the two Israeli cadets spent 18 weeks at the USNA where they completely immersed themselves into the life on campus, sleeping, eating and learning with American navy cadets.
As part of the exchange, several American cadets spent several months in Israel training and learning alongside soldiers in the Naval Officers Course at Haifa University as well as getting involved in cultural and language immersion programs.
“As part of future officers in the Israeli navy, I think it’s important that we went there. That we learned another culture gave us the ability to look at our navy from the outside. To look from the outside at how our army functions,” one of the cadets who took part in the exchange told The Jerusalem Post
after he returned in June.
“We learned the culture of the American navy, which is totally different than 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 half years and the rest are military drills.”
The US Naval Academy has agreements with several other countries, including Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, Japan, Portugal, Singapore and Spain. According to The Capital Gazette, USNA is in talks to formalize additional agreements with Australia and Italy in the near future.
The program at USNA in Annapolis is four years long, and graduates of the course receive a Bachelor of Science degree and commissions 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 in 2018.
In comparison, at almost two and a half years long, the IDF’s Naval Officer’s Course is one of the most intensive programs in the military.
According to army figures, over 2,000 candidates apply with only 90 passing the initial tests and only 5.5% of the candidates who applied to the course graduated on Wednesday.
At the end of the course, each graduate receives the rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade, responsible for commanding naval vessels, as well as a Bachelor’s degree in political science by the end of the course from Haifa University. Graduates are committed to 61 months of additional military service.
According to figures released by the military, three female cadets also graduated alongside the male cadets on Wednesday and 10% of all the graduates will serve on the new Sa’ar 6 corvette missile ships.
While the course opened its gates to women in 1998 and in 2014 the option of becoming a naval vessel commander became available to women, there have not been any female soldiers serving on missile ships prior to these five recruits.
In November, the military announced that six female naval combat recruits enlisted in the Navy would serve for the first time on the Sa’ar 6. The new corvettes, which are currently being built in Germany, will have a completely separate section for female soldiers, complete with beds, showers and toilets.
The military said that the “recruitment of the female fighters is part of a long-term plan to absorb the new Sa’ar 6 missile ship.”
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