Army Chief: Preference for Cybersecurity Over Combat Reflects Faulty Values

The chief of staff's remarks to military flight school graduates come amid growing interest among army recruits to serve in technology units as a launchpad to a lucrative high-tech career in civilian life

Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich
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Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi at an air force flight school graduation ceremony, on Wednesday.
Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi at an air force flight school graduation ceremony, on Wednesday.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz
Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich

The Israeli Army's Chief of Staff told an air force flight school graduation ceremony on Wednesday that the preference for cybersecurity roles to service in combat units “reflects a loss of values and weakens the foundations of society.”

Referring to a poster with the slogan “The Best for Cyber” (an appropriation of the air force’s longtime motto about the Israeli army's top soldiers) Aviv Kochavi said “the best are first of all the fighters, as measured by their willingness to contribute to the country and sacrifice their lives to protect others.”

“The message manifested in the poster is deeper than it may seem,” said Kochavi. “It reflects faulty values among a certain part of the population. It is said at times in humor, at times cynically and at times through actions, and it seeps into and weakens the foundations of society and the priorities it must set. Cybersecurity has much potential, and it apparently makes a lot of money, and the people who do it are talented. But the best – that is a timeless value, standing like an uneroded rock in the face of fashions, trends and social change.”

Kochavi’s remarks come amid growing interest among army recruits to serve in technology units as a launchpad to a lucrative high-tech career later in civilian life. The Israel Defense Forces has recently identified an increased interest among those slated for compulsory service to serve in the intelligence and technology units, even if their physical and personal profiles qualify them for combat units.

"Don’t you dare take the term of ‘the best’ from us,” Kochavi said. “Don’t you dare diminish it. Don’t modernize it and don’t force it into the supposed new zeitgeist. [The best] are those who do something for someone, something good, important and moral, and without asking ‘what’s in it for me.’"

"A country dealing with many threats and six theaters of operations at once knows how to appreciate and cherish its operational vanguard and combat troops first and foremost, and knows how to say loud and clear – the best are fighters," he asserted. "Who marches in a silent column to capture the murderers in the heart of a Palestinian village? The fighters. Who is deployed along the borders, thwarting infiltrators? The fighters. Who crosses the country’s borders week after week and flies to attack weapons stores? The fighters."

Kochavi added that “the IDF is thwarting terror attacks within the country and along the borders on a daily basis, and works to eliminate threats throughout the Middle East around the clock," citing the arrest of Palestinians suspected of murdering Yehuda Dimentman near the Homesh outpost two days after the incident.

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