How Israel reformed the intelligence and special services

The analyzes were made by Yuriy Matvienko for Defense Express. Their assessments, opinions and comments on the topic do not reflect the position of


TEL AVIV, ($1=3.12 Israeli Shekels) – Many say that in the organization of defense and security of society in the current aggression of the Russian Federation, Ukraine should focus on Israel – a country that has achieved significant success here. Today we look at the steps taken by the Israeli leadership to reform and develop the country’s intelligence and special services to make them even more effective.

Israel’s current military doctrine continues to assume that the country lacks strategic depth and that the combined strength of credible adversaries exceeds its mobilization capabilities. Under these conditions, the main postulate of the doctrine remains the creation of all conditions for the guaranteed task of defeating the enemy in a short time in enemy territory or inflicting such damage to him that will ensure the signing of a peace treaty on Israel.

It should be noted that according to the current views of the Israeli leadership, the existential threat (threat to the very existence of the state) has somewhat lost its sharpness and receded into the background. At the forefront are several threats that are asymmetric, dynamically changing, and can cause significant harm to Israel in all areas of life. Therefore, the country’s leadership pays considerable attention to the development and reform of the community of special services of the country, increasing their capacity to prevent existing and future threats to Israeli security.

The country’s main special services, the Mossad foreign intelligence service, and the Shabak general security service report directly to the country’s prime minister. The military intelligence of the Israel Defense Forces (AMAN) reports to the Prime Minister through the Minister of Defense. At the same time, the priority among special services remains military intelligence, as the military threat in one form or another remains the greatest threat to the country.

As part of Israel’s security, the country’s leadership and special services consider a timely assessment of existing, anticipation of new threats, and effective implementation of existing intelligence to be the most effective tools. In this context, the emphasis is on strengthening coordination between special services at the governmental level, increasing the effective implementation of intelligence in foreign and domestic policy, as well as ensuring civilian control in the government established by the Ministry of Intelligence.

It should be noted that the implementation of intelligence in the framework of international cooperation with partners is one of the priorities of Israel’s foreign policy to ensure its international support. Thus, according to officially published data from 2015 to 2018, thanks to the transfer of intelligence received, Israeli special services in the framework of international cooperation with their colleagues prevented about 50 terrorist acts in 20 foreign countries.

Also, as part of the overall reform of the Israeli intelligence community, there is further development and reform of the military intelligence system at all levels.

The military leadership continues to pay considerable attention to increasing the capacity of the Israel Defense Forces to prevent threats to the country’s security at a considerable distance from the borders. One of the directions is to strengthen the capabilities of military intelligence and special forces.

Thus, in the framework of strengthening the capabilities of military intelligence, the capabilities of radio and radio technical intelligence (subdivision 8200 within the AMAN) were significantly increased, and a species intelligence reconnaissance service (subdivision 9900) was established. As part of improving the efficiency of the implementation of intelligence information of this unit provided opportunities for its operational use to the battalion-brigade level. Considerable attention is paid to increasing the analytical capabilities of AMAN.

Algorithms and technologies are used that allow, based on available data, to calculate probable decisions that can be made by the leadership of enemy countries from the tactical to the strategic level. Thus, according to the official statement of the representatives of SHABAK and AMAN, algorithms were developed and successfully applied, which allowed to automatically and effectively detection potential terrorists based on the results of their activities on social networks, in particular, Facebook.

Also, since 2015, the country has established and is actively developing a department for the prevention of threats in cyberspace. During its creation, it was emphasized that this unit will not only protect the cyberinfrastructure of the country but also actively conduct “offensive measures” on the cyberinfrastructure of a probable enemy. At present, this department is part of the military intelligence and in close contact with the communications department.

However, according to the conclusions of the parliamentary commission, which considered the issue of cyber security of the country – this administration should be the basis for the creation of a new kind or even a kind of armed forces of the Israel Defense Forces.

Intelligence structures, both at the strategic and at all other levels of military leadership, are also being reformed.

The main focus is not on creating new specialized units, but on strengthening coordination between existing ones while preserving their features. In the opinion of the military leadership, this will maintain high standards of training of privates and command staff and at the same time significantly increase the opportunities for joint use of these units.

Thus, since 2011, the Israeli military leadership has been considering the possibility of increasing the capacity of special units of the AOI to conduct operations deep into enemy territory. Thus, it was emphasized that the Department of Deep Operations was established within the General Staff of the AOI. The Office should develop plans, set objectives, and monitor the conduct of such operations deep in enemy territory or at a considerable distance from the country’s borders.

The Special Purpose Regiment of the Sayeret Matkal General Staff, the Special Purpose Flotilla of the Shayette 13 Air Force, the Air Force Special Forces, in particular, and the 669 Air Force Special Rescue Detachment were transferred to the operational subordination of this department.

At the same time, each unit continues to retain its uniqueness and features of training for the intended purpose. However, in the operational subordination of the Deep Operations Department, a common approach and enhanced coordination should be developed in carrying out tasks at a distance from the Israeli border or in deep enemy territory.

This trend continued in the reform of special units within the AOI ground forces.

Thus, in 2015, by the decision of the NGSh AOI, the 89th Special Purpose Brigade “Commandos” was formed, which was structurally part of the 98th Division of Central Subordination, which is located in the Central Military District.

The 89th Brigade is made up of special battalions from each military district. In particular, the Egoz Battalion (Northern Military District), Maglan and Duvdevan (Central Military District), and Rimon (Southern Military District). The main purpose of this unit is to improve the coordination of operations between special forces, as well as the effective strengthening of ground and special forces in crises, both in peacetime and in wartime.

At the moment, there is no information that as part of the creation of the brigade received heavy equipment or aircraft delivery personnel. The 98th Division is also responsible for the logistics and administrative support of the 89th Brigade. That’s right, the 98th Division provides airborne units of the AOI. It is expected that the brigade units will act by their purpose, however, coordination between them and other units should be significantly increased.

The creation of the 89th Brigade testifies to the formation of a full-fledged unit of the Special Operations Forces within the AOI and the presence of appropriate structures within the AOI General Staff.

Also, to increase the efficiency of reconnaissance units in the land forces, reconnaissance troops (or field reconnaissance troops Modiin Sade, or abbreviated in Hebrew MODASH) of the AOI ground forces have been established since 2000.

These troops include one battalion from each Israeli military district and a training unit. In particular, the Shahaf Battalion (Northern Military District), the Nicean Battalion (Central Military District), and the Nesher Battalion (Southern Military District).

The main task of these battalions is to collect intelligence data by conducting visual and electronic reconnaissance, as well as surveillance of the borderline. In particular, from stationary observation posts and balloons, mobile observation posts at the car base and UAVs, as well as personal surveillance by reconnaissance teams.

In the order of operative subordination, the reconnaissance companies of brigades and reconnaissance battalions of divisions are a part of MODASH. It should be noted the fundamental difference between reconnaissance companies of brigades and reconnaissance battalions of divisions. The latter does not carry out special and assault operations and are intended primarily to gather intelligence about the enemy and the area for future hostilities, as well as to conduct artillery and airstrikes on enemy targets.

In the order of operative subordination, the reconnaissance companies of brigades and reconnaissance battalions of divisions are a part of MODASH. It should be noted the fundamental difference between reconnaissance companies of brigades and reconnaissance battalions of divisions. The latter does not carry out special and assault operations and are intended primarily to gather intelligence about the enemy and the area for future hostilities, as well as to conduct artillery and airstrikes on enemy targets.

There is also a tendency for the Israeli leadership to make more active use of special services capabilities to strengthen its international position and international cooperation, primarily to improve the security situation around the country. It is noteworthy the systematic measures taken by the Israeli leadership aimed at expanding the capabilities of special services in the field of modern technology to create conditions for guaranteed information advantage in advance or in a short time over any likely adversary.

Directly in the defense sphere, the Israeli leadership pays considerable attention to strengthening the capabilities of military intelligence.

The emphasis is not on “mechanically” increasing the number of special units and expanding their staffs, but on deepening coordination between existing ones, as well as ensuring more effective planning and operational management of these units to conduct operations to achieve not only military but also military-political goals. As a feature of this process should be noted the creation of specialized units within the military intelligence system, which can process large amounts of information, especially species, and bring it in a short time to a state that allows you to quickly implement this information directly as a military and special operations.

This experience of Israel deserves attention and study with a view to its possible use to improve the activities of the intelligence agencies of Ukraine.


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