After leaving the IDF following the 2006 Second Lebanon War, police chief-appointee Gal Hirsch set up a consulting business that made headlines after it turned out to be active in training the Georgian army prior to its brief 2008 war with Russia. Yet his company, named Defensive Shield, also trained and guided military forces in other countries around the world.
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According to its website, Defensive Shield has been consulting, particularly in defense and internal security matters, since 2007. It holds an export permit from the Ministry of Defense and focuses on consulting, training and project management, whether for foreign forces or for removal of unexploded ordnance from the shore near Rishon Letzion, in an area that used to be a firing range.
A decade ago Israel started supplying weapons to Georgia in deals worth an estimated $200 million. Although Israel wasn’t a major supplier there, it did sell unmanned aerial vehicles and anti-tank missiles, and was considering selling Merkava tanks as well. Brig. Gen. (res.) Hirsch’s company was involved in training infantry forces, along with other arms exporters. These companies recruited officers and non-commissioned members of elite units on the eve of their demobilization, offering them overseas jobs as instructors, with salaries of thousands of dollars a month.
Dozens of Israelis came into contact with Georgians in order to foster defense ties with the country, whether through training in the field or by securing arms deals. L., an Israeli who spent time in Georgia on behalf of Hirsch’s company, told Haaretz in 2008 that the feeling in Georgia was that it was “on the brink of war.”
Hirsch used to visit Israeli instructors from time to time to observe them in action. According to the report in Haaretz, even though it was decided in 2007 to reduce arms deals with Georgia, Israeli companies such as Hirsch’s, which provided consultants and trainers of Georgian units, continued operating while reducing their activity until their contracts ended that summer. Defensive Shield, as well as Global CST, headed by Maj. Gen. (res.) Israel Ziv, claimed they ended their projects in Georgia before the war with Russia started.
Defensive Shield did business on other continents as well. According to the company’s website, it has “representatives” in Europe, Australia and Latin America. Three years ago it was reported that the company was managing a big security operation in Monaco, and its mayor came to Israel to visit a defense systems exhibition, as a guest of Defensive Shield. In 2015 the company hosted a delegation from Congo. Hirsch’s photograph with this delegation was posted on the company’s website.
The company took part in an exhibition in Kazakhstan, and according to the Walla website there were documents showing that it operated alongside special forces in Kazakhstan. The Nir Tal security company, shares of which are held by Hirsch’s group, conducted courses in VIP protection in central Asian countries last year. The company’s website also shows further photos taken two years ago, showing training of police forces in a Latin American country, as well as sharpshooter training of foreign forces in 2010.