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Wednesday, 28 October 2015
Foreign Armies Send Soldiers to Israel to Learn Combat Tactics
At a ceremony outside the town of Mitzpe Ramon in the heart of the Negev desert, 363 soldiers last week completed the IDF’s rigorous combat officer training course.
Twelve of the graduates, however, already held the rank of officer — and indeed were not IDF soldiers.
In a new program, seven militaries from around the world, including those of the United States and Brazil, sent young first lieutenants to complete the IDF course, seeking to build personal connections between the allied armies, solidify their bonds, and both learn from and teach one another.
The course, which was conducted in English, included navigation training, educational trips to historic sites around the country, and intensive conversations about leadership, such as how to relate to and “love” the soldiers under your command. The 12 foreign soldiers were in their own separate company, but Israeli cadets and officers joined them through every stage of the course in “Bahad 1” — the Hebrew name for the IDF’s officer training base.
Despite the differences in cultures and ages (the average IDF lieutenant is 21 years old, while the foreign officers were on average aged 27), the experiment was a success, Lt. Col. Yossi Koren, the chief instructor of the course, told The Times of Israel.
The Israeli soldiers learned from the older and more mature foreign officers, while the visiting soldiers learned from the “hot tempered” IDF officers’ ability to improvise, Koren said.
‘The commanders would start to get mad because we kept calling them sir’ An American participant, 1st Lt. Mauricio Jesus Izaguirre from Texas, noted that one main difference between the militaries was the way soldiers interacted with one another, specifically the way IDF soldiers refer even to their superior officers by their first names.
“It was difficult [to get used to the informality]. In the United States Army it’s just ingrained in you. After a while [the Israeli commanders] would start to get mad because we kept calling them sir,” Izaguirre said.
“From the level of NCOs and even higher-up officers, everyone asks, ‘How’s it going?’ But they are asking them legitimately — ‘How’s your family? Do you need anything?’ — they really care for each other,” he said.
However, unlike some of the other lessons learned in the nine-week course, referring to a commander by first name will not be adopted upon their return to their armies. “We’d get in so much trouble” if we did that in the US Army, Izaguirre said with a laugh.
In addition to the US and Brazil, soldiers from Germany, Greece, The Netherlands and Italy also took part in the trial program. The seventh country involved refused to publicly acknowledge its participation in the course.