Israeli Army Plans to Create Separate Cybercorps, Similar to Air Force or Navy

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An IDF course for cyber-defense in Ramat Gan. Credit: Alon Ron

The Israel Defense Forces has decided on a major reorganization of its cyberwarfare operations, under which the cybercorps would become a separate branch, similar to the air force or the navy.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot made the decision, which must still be approved by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, after lengthy deliberations. It is based on a proposal drafted by the head of Military Intelligence, Maj. Gen. Herzl Halevi.

The IDF had initially considered setting up a cybercommand headed by a major general, but ultimately decided instead to make the cybercorps a separate branch, since a branch has different powers than a command does.

The new branch will have responsibility for all cyberwarfare operations: cyberdefense, which is currently part of the C4I Corps, as well as cyberattacks, cyberintelligence gathering and operational planning.

Several details of the reorganization have yet to finalized: For instance, the new branch might be combined in some way with Military Intelligence or the C4I Corps. This question will be decided by a task force whose members include Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Yair Golan and the head of the IDF planning directorate, Maj. Gen. Nimrod Sheffer. A senior officer said that each of the various options had its own advantages.

The IDF plans to finish setting up the new branch within the next two years. Nevertheless, it will conduct a preliminary evaluation after one year to determine whether the reorganization has improved the military’s cyberwarfare operations.

“The military has come to the understanding that cyberdefense needs to be handled differently than it is today,” a senior officer explained to Haaretz.

Nevertheless, he added, the most critical issue is to ensure that even in the midst of the planned reorganization, no cyberthreat “finds us unready.” Therefore, he said, “this is a sensitive process.”

Last week, Sheffer told the Herzliya Conference that “Israel has been wise enough to invest in becoming one of the greatest cyberpowers in the world. And we’ll do everything necessary to maintain our place there, including organizational changes.”

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