November 24, 2004

Excerpts: Spies Inc. - Part V

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 6:38 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

While critical discussion has surfaced in recent years about the erosion of the IDFs mission in light of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and its long-term characterization as the peoples army, undeniably the military continues to play a crucial and central role in the life of the country. Its influence is an enduring one in ways both obvious as well as latent. From amplifying and refining national character traits such as risk-taking, creativity, and ingenuity to instructing the problemsolving skills of generations of thinkers to creating the backbone of technological innovation, an entire world-class industry is built around the military.
Rafael Eitans one-year directive has stretched into nearly a quarter of a century. By 2003, nearly 21 classes of more than 440 soldiers have called themselves elite Talpiot alumni. In recent years, the IDF has expanded the Talpiot initiative, creating similarly conceived programs. Although Talpiot remains at the pinnacle, some of the other spinoffs include Psgot, which focuses on physics and electronics, and Atidim , which finds recruits with strong potential who come from disadvantaged or overlooked schools and neighborhoods across the country, and who havent been deeply exposed to science and engineering but have the aptitude for it.
Only a handful of Talpiot soldiers have become military careerists. There are 2 colonels, 14 lieutenant colonels, and 1 brigadier general (as of 2003). Id like to have more brigadier generals or plane squadron commanders coming out of Talpiot, said Colonel Nagel. However, Talpiot has served as an important graduation to prosperity. During their years of service, recruits have all been involved intimately in some of the military and defenses most important systems. Although, for the most part, their achievements are left unpublicized, their fingerprints can be lifted off of Israels UAV program, the Arrow anti-ballistic missile system, and scores of communications, wireless technology, and weapons systems.
Upon entering the civilian world, Talpiot alumni have made equally important contributions. Many have continued to develop technology in the commercial realm, and the programs graduates include a significant list of players in Israels high-tech world. Marius Nacht, one of the co-founders of Check Point Software Technologies, the company that virtually created the commercial Internet security firewall, came out of Talpiot, as did Jonathan Silverberg, who took his Talpiot background in developing locations systems in the Israeli Air Force to Decell Technologies, a mobile traffic information company. Before co-founding Provigent, a maker of chip systems for fixed wireless broadband, Dan Charash developed digital signal processing telecommunications applications in elite Ministry of Defense and IDF units following his graduation from Talpiot.