In a sign of growing ties between Israel and NATO and in an effort to create better interoperability between countries in the global war on terrorism, the IDF's Military Intelligence (MI) plans to establish an intelligence-sharing mechanism with the Western military alliance, The Jerusalem Post has learned. Last week, MI hosted a weeklong conference on global terrorism and intelligence attended by 50 high-ranking officers from NATO member countries as well as from Jordan and Morocco. The officers are members, with Israel, of the Mediterranean Dialogue - a 10-year-old forum for consultations and cooperation between Mediterranean countries.
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According to a high-ranking IDF officer, the conference focused on global terror and the need to enhance cooperation between Western countries in the collection and dissemination of vital intelligence information.
Regarding the participation of a Moroccan intelligence official, the IDF officer said: "We share mutual threats... there are things they can learn from us and us from them."
During the conference, the participants discussed ways to enhance the exchange of intelligence between NATO and Israel with a particular emphasis on the lessons learned from the military alliance's experiences in Afghanistan and Israel's war in Lebanon this past summer.
One topic of particular interest for the NATO group was Israel's handling of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED), homemade bombs used against coalition and NATO forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and a threat to IDF troops in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. During the conference, the participants heard lectures on a wide range of topics and toured northern Israel in the Gilboa region.
"They came to learn from us," the officer said, "but we also have a lot to learn from them and NATO's experience in Afghanistan and Kosovo."
In line with the efforts to enhance military cooperation with NATO, the IDF plans to dispatch a Navy officer to Naples in the coming weeks, where he will participate in Operation Active Endeavor.
NATO launched Operation Active Endeavor in the wake of 9/11 and has succeeded in bringing together a number of countries from the Mediterranean that gather in Naples and share information concerning naval terror and suspicious ships in the region.
"The mechanism will enable an exchange of intelligence information between the countries regarding events in the Middle East and in other regions," the officer said, adding that following the conference, the IDF was also considering accepting foreign military officers for participation in MI courses and educational programs.