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The IDF Prepares for New Home in Silicon Wadi

The IDF Prepares for New Home in Silicon Wadi

January 23, 2018

Negev Development & Community Programs

JNS – By 2023, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) plans to set up a sprawling campus in Beer-Sheva, which will house technological units, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) and the headquarters of the military’s Southern Command that is responsible for dealing with threats from the Gaza Strip.

The IDF’s new technological campus will have cutting-edge IT data centers, which will form the backbone of the Israeli military’s digital combat network. It will also concentrate the IDF’s elite cyber units into one complex.

“We are following the vision of [Israel’s first Prime Minister David] Ben-Gurion. We are moving the best people to the Negev,” says Lt.-Col. Itai Sagi, who heads the branch responsible for establishing the IDF’s C4i (command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence) and cyber defense campus.

“Next to [the IDF] are the University and tech companies, with their own labs. We are creating a very significant ecosystem.”

The move south has social and national significance. The IDF campus will be just steps from BGU’s Marcus Family Campus, giving soldiers direct access to the University.

“This means that soldiers who finish their day can cross the street to the University and study for their degree. That’s something we encourage,” says Lt-Col. Sagi.

BGU has also waived tuition fees for graduates of the IDF’s elite military study programs, creating a significant incentive for them to become students there.

Prof. Brig.-Gen. (Ret.) Jacob Bortman, of BGU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, is heading up the University’s preparations for the IDF’s new campus. Prof. Bortman, who served for a long period in the IAF, joined the academic world nine years ago.

BGU has been working with the defense establishment to prepare for the military’s arrival in Beer-Sheva. So far this includes providing academic accreditation for military personnel and recognizing the IDF’s technological courses, thereby speeding up their entry into the University system. Dozens of IDF courses have already been accepted by BGU as academic courses.

A second step involves creating personal networking links between academic experts and their IDF counterparts. The next step would be for the IDF to jointly develop technologies with BGU, such as electronic warfare systems and cyber warfare tools.

Read more on the JNS website >>