Cyber Israel LREC 2019
POSTED ON: Thursday, July 25, 2019 1:23 PM by CDR Chris Hoffman
On 26 June 2019, eight midshipmen flew from Washington, D.C. to Tel Aviv, Israel to take part in a three week long experience of cultural immersion into a foreign society which prides itself on mandatory military service and new technology. The goal of the trip was to place high-performing midshipmen into the heart of a key international partner’s society in order to gain new perspectives on cyber security and gain a better understanding of how Israel approaches the cyber domain. Israel is currently one of the top five countries in cyber security, and one of its leading export is software and technological solutions. Furthermore, with its military service policy, Israel provides a unique foreign experience which can provide new insights to rising leaders of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.
CDR Chris Hoffman, a military professor in the Cyber Science Department and Senior Naval Intelligence Officer at USNA served as the group’s leader. For the first week of the trip, Mr. Dennis Dias, another professor in the Cyber Science Department at USNA, also joined the group to get an understanding of the trip as he will be the group leader next year. The midshipman group under CDR Hoffman included two first class midshipmen, Jonathan Corbin and Gabrielle Montehermoso, four second class midshipmen, Dawson Eldred, Jon Goohs, Kameron Chumley-Soltani, and Paul Schartung, and two third class midshipmen, Biron McNeely and Mary Lewallen. During the trip, these midshipman developed close friendships with each other that will continue to improve throughout the future.
The primary goal of this LREC was for the midshipmen to develop an understanding of the unique “Cyber Ecosystem” within Israel that provides for their success as a power in cyber security. The first component of this goal was accomplished through the events included in Cyber Week Conference at Tel Aviv University. The midshipmen attended several important discussions, to include a presentation Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, who addressed Israel’s approach to cyber security by offering information on the history of the young nation. Following Cyber Week, the midshipmen began their course studies. The Advanced Cyber Security course was part of Tel Aviv University’s summer studies program and was taught by Professor Noam Krakover, one of the founding members of Israel’s National Cyber Directorate. Professor Krakover facilitated insightful discussions regarding recent case studies and policies implemented throughout the world today. Overall, the class provided a great opportunity to learn from one of Israel’s experts in the Cyber Domain. Also, the University provided several off-campus events designed to expose international students to the rich history and culture of Israel.
In addition to the Cyber Security class at Tel Aviv University, the midshipmen were provided many opportunities to visit local private enterprises deemed critical to the cyber ecosystem. From small start-ups to large corporations, as well as a few military organizations, the midshipmen interacted with each component of the high-tech industry. Most of the visits were coordinated by Dr. Eviatar Matania, the former head of the National Cyber Bureau in the office of the Prime Minister and founding member of the Israeli National Cyber Directorate.
While the class at Tel Aviv University and the visits to local enterprises were tremendously important, the cultural immersion provided to the midshipmen was crucial as well. Being able to interact with the people of Israel on a daily basis provided countless opportunities to gain new perspectives. Furthermore, these interactions provided insight into the culture that is present in Israel. Many of the midshipmen experienced the outgoing nature of Israeli people, as well as the passion they have for their country. The midshipmen were provided opportunities such as a food tour through the Carmel market in downtown Tel Aviv which exposed them to the different flavors of the region as well as the glory of fresh hummus. Moreover, they were able to interact with countless members of the society with many people providing differing perspectives about the Israeli culture.
Other notable experiences of the trip include a tour of Jerusalem, hiking to the top of Masada, floating in the Dead Sea, rafting through the Jordan River, and even camel rides for some of the midshipmen. The tours to areas like Jerusalem provided the midshipmen an opportunity to see thousands of years of history and holy sites for many different religions. From the Western Wall, to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, religious history was explored thoroughly.
For the midshipmen, this was an incredible opportunity to experience a culture that very few ever get to. The history of the region was explored and admired by all and the culture of the Israeli people will have an impact on them for the rest of their lives.
Thank you to the United States Naval Academy Cyber Department, CDR Hoffman, Mr. Dennis Dias, and Ms. Paige Mazzei for organizing and coordinating this trip.