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Israel’s Intelligence Chiefs Discuss Yom Kippur War Lessons

“We are constantly challenging our base assumptions.”
ead of IDF Intelligence Major General Aviv Kochavi speaking at last week’s conference.

ead of IDF Intelligence Major General Aviv Kochavi speaking at last week’s conference.
Photo Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Office

At a special conference held jointly by various groups within the Israeli intelligence community, senior officers discussed a range of topics regarding the changing intelligence field. The Chief of IDF Intelligence Directorate told the audience: “We are constantly challenging our base assumptions.” At a special conference conducted jointly by the IDF Intelligence Directorate, The Israel Intelligence Heritage & Commemoration Center (IICC) and various other groups within the Israeli intelligence community, senior officers discussed the lessons learned from the 1973 Yom Kippur War and the changes undergone in the intelligence community since then.

The conference was headed by the Chief of the IDF Intelligence Directorate Major General Aviv Kochavi, Intelligence Research Division Commander Brigadier General Itai Brun and Chief Intelligence Officer Brigadier General Eli Ben-Meir, alongside additional senior intelligence officials. The officers also heard from various academic and research experts.

Head of Intelligence Research Brigadier General Itai Brun.

Head of Intelligence Research Brigadier General Itai Brun.

“We need for the entire Intelligence Directorate, from the most junior researchers up to me, to be people who understand the limits of knowledge – and from that, the kind of people who apply criticism, apply doubt, but also know  how to take a stand,” Maj. Gen. Kochavi stated.

“As an organization we actually have the tools to correct each other, to supervise each other and to engage in processes that reduce the chance of being surprised. We are constantly focusing on challenging our base assumptions.”

The Head of Intelligence Research related to elements that are likely to create surprise in the security realm, and the practices adopted by the division in order to avoid the “default” approach to intelligence assessments. He described the current era as one of essential shifts characterized by uncertainty and instability and that throughout the Middle East the “old order” has collapse while the new order has yet to be defined.

As part of the necessary shift in intelligence work in light of the regional turmoil, Brig. Gen. Brun emphasized the increasing importance of the study of the Arab civil populations.

“We are examining the rising weight of the public in the Arab states. The era in which we were satisfied by reaching a leader who would make all the decisions for the Arab states is over,” Brig. Gen. Brun said.

“Today, even if the public in a specific country does not go out to the streets, it will still be far more influential than ever before on the agendas of the decision makers. In the Intelligence Directorate we have asked ourselves if we need to and can understand the public, and we decided yes. We have begun a process that I believe will grant us these tools.”

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