2022 Cyber LREC to Israel
POSTED ON: Monday, August 22, 2022 11:01 AM by MIDN 1/C Ashley Chung
Seven midshipmen, ranging from 3/C to 1/C, recently completed a three-week Cyber Language, Regional Expertise, and Culture program (LREC) in Israel. An LREC is a cultural immersion trip, with this one specifically tailored to Israel's culture and unique cyber challenges.
With the group based out of Tel Aviv University, an Israeli Cybersecurity Strategy course, taught by Dr. Nir Hassid, focused on the national security concept of Israel and how those guidelines influence their approach to cybersecurity policy and technology innovation, with self-reliance, deterrence, and quality as their top priorities in their overall security approach. In addition to attending class, these midshipmen also immersed themselves in Israeli culture and history by visiting cybersecurity companies and tourist attractions, such as a sunrise hike to Masada, floating in the Dead Sea, camel rides in Jerusalem, exploring the ANU cultural heritage museum, learning about various surface and subsurface training simulations used at the Israeli Naval Academy, and much more.
Within the first week of staying at Tel Aviv, the midshipmen visited a world-renowned cybersecurity company called Check Point Software Technologies, more commonly known for their initial development of hardware based firewalls in the 90’s. On the tour, the hosts discussed the company’s history and business operations as well as how the operation of their company currently focuses on prevention of cyber attacks rather than detection, a proactive vs. reactive approach. The midshipmen also learned about the thought process, leadership, and organizational challenges that goes into running a private sector cybersecurity company. They were able to get an insight into their utilization of the ThreatCloud database, cloud security automation, and how Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology plays a major role in their cybersecurity products and services. They also were briefed by Check Point’s research department on the latest cyber threat events pertaining to global conflicts and threat actors.
The group have also taken in some of the culture of Israel by traveling to Masada National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the Dead Sea. Hiking to the top of Masada at dawn, they found ruins of a Jewish fortress that was overtaken by Roman troops in 73 CE. The ruins were of bath houses and watchstanding walls. From the top of the mountain, the midshipmen were also able to see the valleys that were once submerged in the Dead Sea but were now white from the salt left behind. After climbing down the mountain, they experienced the salty, warm water of the Dead Sea with their infamous mud packs.
One of the highlights of this LREC was the visit to Jerusalem. The tour went through major holy and historic sites such as the City of David, the Temple Mount, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. At the City of David, the midshipmen went through Hezekiah’s Tunnel, a underground tunnel built by King Hezekiah to bring water into the city and protect their water source during sieges by Assyrians and other outsiders. Afterwards, they went to the Temple Mount where they looked upon the Dome of the Rock, the 1st and 2nd Jewish Temple ruins, and the al-Aqsa Mosque. The last portion of the trip was dedicated to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Inside this church, according to Christian beliefs, the church holds the site of Jesus’ crucifixion and Jesus’s tomb where he was also resurrected.
Additional trips and experiences throughout the country include an old Tel Aviv neighborhood called Jaffa, a northern coastal city called Haifa, traditional markets such as Carmel market, local foods and desserts, and other various historic sites.
The midshipmen found this to be an incredible opportunity to experience a different culture and to learn about a new national security strategy. Overall, this trip has made an impact on how they will prepare themselves to become naval officers by offering new perspectives that they have never thought of. The history, interactions, and customs were welcomed and admired by all the midshipmen and will forever stay with them throughout their naval career.
To learn more about the Naval Academy’s Cyber Sciences department, visit https://www.usna.edu/CyberDept/.