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IDF’s Cyber Defense Academy school welcomes first autistic cadets

CM 07/10/2021


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With the backbone of the IDF reliant on programming, cyber and other technology, thousands of soldiers have passed through the military’s Computing and Cyber Defense Academy which for the first time is opening its door to troops who are on the autism spectrum.
The school which is located in Ramat Gan teaches dozens of courses related to tech needs in all parts of the military, be it the C4I directorate or Navy, Air Force, and even ground forces.

 IDF soldiers compete in a multinational Capture the Flag cyber drill. (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT) IDF soldiers compete in a multinational Capture the Flag cyber drill. (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON’S UNIT)

The school, ground zero for the training of all personnel who will have a computer-related position in the military, “gives the opportunity to everyone,” said the commander of the school Lt.-Col. Liat Litvak.

“We don’t only take people who have prior [computer] knowledge, it can be anyone who has math skills. They can come and succeed,” she said.

IDF cyber defenders are seen participating in an online international exercise. (credit: IDF)IDF cyber defenders are seen participating in an online international exercise. (credit: IDF)

There are nine cadets on the autism spectrum who will be studying the school’s cyber defense course, an intensive program of several months.
Most of the cadets are high-functioning autists and while they will be doing everything that non-autistics cadets are doing, they are “just getting a bit more help along the way,” said Litvak.
Every four cadets will have an officer, in comparison to one officer to each six non-autistic cadets. They will be learning from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. and will have several breaks during the day in order to make sure that they are able to concentrate best while studying.
The cadets spent six weeks prior to the course with mentors who help them integrate into military life and will accompany them throughout their service. During the six weeks, the mentors also met with the families of the cadets in order to learn about them.

 IDF soldiers compete in a multinational Capture the Flag cyber drill. (credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT) IDF soldiers compete in a multinational Capture the Flag cyber drill. (credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)

“Everyone is totally different and we can learn so much about each cadet,” said corporal Pnina Gershenkroin, Special integration mentor. “Our goal is to integrate all of the cadets into the army, they have equal opportunities just like everyone else who drafts into the IDF.”
In recent years, the IDF has been placing special attention on cyber warfare, increasing funding, and placing special emphasis on training the next generation of online soldiers for the IDF’s most coveted units, responsible for many of Israel’s breakthrough technology.
Learning at the school is not easy. The intensive courses last between 15-20 weeks and non-autistic cadets learn from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
But, unlike other schools, more than 50% of the course allows cadets to learn on their own, be it by videos, podcasts, or others.
“We know today that everyone learns differently,” Litvak said. “Some need to have a teacher, some need more one-on-one learning and some need other ways which work best for them.”
“We give them the opportunity to learn in the way they want, which in turn allows them to succeed more,” she continued, adding that officers also sit with cadets once a week to see how the students are doing, if they are succeeding or not.

 IDF soldiers compete in a multinational Capture the Flag cyber drill. (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT) IDF soldiers compete in a multinational Capture the Flag cyber drill. (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON’S UNIT)

There are also no marks given to cadets. It’s all about showing improvement.
“We show them where they are less strong. Marks don’t really matter here, instead, we want to give them the chance to see where they can get better.”
If for example, one student got 80 percent in an exam and then got the same mark in another test, he hasn’t shown any improvement. But, if someone started with 30 percent and then sat and learned and the next test got 60, “it’s amazing,” Litvak said.
“It shows that he learned, that he knows how to learn. That he knows how to look at where he’s less strong and improve.”

Source: Jerusalem Post

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CM

The host of Coffee Mouth Scare Crow Show and CEO of 452 Impact, Inc. Here is food for thought. Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." John 3:16 "For God so love ed the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall be saved."

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