For over 30 years in Israel, the most intellectually advanced recruits of both genders have been selected to serve in the elite Talpiot unit.
TALENTS - GREEN LIGHT
This word is not easy to translate. Undoubtedly, it is taken from the verse of the immortal biblical "Song of Songs", attributed to the legendary king Solomon. "Tel" translates as "hill" and "piyot" means "mouth". It turns out kind of like a hill on which all lips turn to prayer. However, in Israeli army slang, "talpiot" refers to the "elite". It is not surprising that this is the word used in the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) to describe the curriculum, which allows, as its developers believe, "to use not only muscles, but also brains for local intellectuals of military age."
The elite Talpiot unit was created in 1979 on the initiative of Brigadier General of the Reserve Aaron Beit Halahmi. Moreover, the "star ensemble of army intellectuals" was not immediately formed. As Beit Halakhmi himself says, back in 1974, two professors from the Hebrew (Hebrew) University approached him and proposed to create a training program that would concentrate the efforts of the most capable of research recruits. It was assumed that these young people would be able to develop the most advanced technologies for the IDF. The preparatory work lasted for five long years. Beit Halahmi does not hide the fact that many bureaucratic obstacles had to be overcome. Opponents of the Talpiot formation argued that it makes no sense to involve young people in scientific work in the army immediately after school, even if they are very talented, but who did not have time to get a fundamental education at universities or colleges. However, Beit Halakhmi and his associates considered it necessary to orient talented young people to research in the military fields already at a military age. This idea was actively supported by Lieutenant General Raphael (Raful) Eitan (1929-2004), who took the post of Chief of the IDF General Staff in 1978, by the way, the son of natives of Russia, whose real name is Orlov. It was he who gave - please pay attention to the duration - the green light to the nine-year training program for army "stars".
It is clear that taking into account the fact that the term of military service in Israel for young men was and is three years, and for girls - two, the selected "stars" were actually engaged in university programs and the end of the service coincided with their higher education. Moreover, many "star" cadets of the Talpiot program stepped over the first bachelor's degree and immediately became masters and doctors.
For 32 years, the Talpiot program, created under the auspices of the Air Force and the Office for the Development of Weapons and Technological Industries (UROiTP), trained and conducted research annually from 25 to 30 recruits, both boys and girls. Candidates selected for this program had to demonstrate not only the highest IQ rating, but also serious motivation, as well as undeniable leadership qualities. Most of the recruits hoping to get into this program already arrive for exams with "Outstanding School Records."
According to Beit Halahmi, “annually, only 1.5% of the thousands of army recruits with the same“outstanding recommendations”are accepted into the Talpiot program. One cannot help but recall the phrase that has become an aphorism by Sun Lutang (1860-1933), a famous master of the internal school of Chinese martial arts: “Finding a good teacher is not easy, finding a good student is even more difficult.”
John Hasten, an expert in elite training programs for the military, author of the article "The Talpiot Factor" published in the Israeli English-language newspaper Jerusalem Post, believes that "there are no more such programs in the world."
FROM ARMY TO PROFESSOR
Information about the military developments of those who passed the Talpiot program is classified. Otherwise, it could not be - the army is obliged to keep its secrets. And nevertheless, the quality and significance of these developments can be judged indirectly by the achievements of the graduates of these nine-year programs in purely civilian areas, because not all graduates wished to remain in the military for life. For example, Guy Shinar, now a prominent researcher of biological systems who received his Ph.D. in physics from the famous Chaim Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, a city that is considered Israel's Cambridge and Oxford at the same time, is also a Talpiot's pet. Dr. Shinar is a member of the boards of directors of several prominent Israeli companies involved in the design and manufacture of medical devices used around the world.
In 2005, when Shinar was 28 years old, he just demobilized, completing the Talpiot program. In the same year, this young man founded an immediately successful company for the production of devices that monitor the vital functions of the patient's body without the help of electrodes. Such a device, placed under the mattress on which the patient lies, can determine the pulse rate, respiratory parameters and other important indicators of human vital activity.
Dr. Shinar says bluntly that his participation in the Talpiot program played a significant role in his successful career as a scientist. In a conversation with Josh Hasten, Shinar emphasized that it was thanks to this program that he was able to choose his own field of professional activity. "If you intend to work in the field of medical instrumentation, you need to become a specialist in a wide field, learn to excel in a variety of disciplines, including clinical science, medical engineering, physiology, and even intellectual property rights issues."
According to Shinar, Talpiot's “young” recruits take their first three years and three months to complete their bachelor's degree in physics or mathematics from the Hebrew University. Further, the soldiers undergo a one and a half year military training program not in one, but in several units, including the parachute troops, the air force, the navy and reconnaissance. After completing this stage of training, the actual graduates are awarded the military rank of lieutenant and the remaining time of service (let me remind you, of nine years) they are exclusively engaged in research and, if necessary, production activities. Dr. Shinar emphasizes that, firstly, the Talpiot cadets were engaged in research activities without being officers, and secondly, having received officer ranks, these same cadets are promoted to the highest positions in intelligence units, the Air Force and some other units … So, the same doctor Gai Shinar at the age of 22 began to serve in the UROiTP.
Shinar's fellow student, the information about which is completely classified, at the same age performed very important work in the field of precision engineering. However, according to Shinar, most of Talpiot's alumni do research in biotechnology, medical and other instrumentation.
Dr. Ofer Goldberg, who completed the Talpiot program a year later than Shinara, is currently Vice President of Clal Biotechnologiot (Shared Technologies), one of the largest international companies in the top 10 list of the most successful companies of this type. … This company specializes in the development of pharmaceuticals and invests in new medical technologies. Like Shinar, Goldberg believes that his career was only possible thanks to the fact that he got into the Talpiot program.
“When I professionally study the scientific validity and feasibility of modern technologies for medicine,” says Ofer Goldberg, “I use the analytical methods and skills I have learned from the Talpiot program. Indeed, this program is focused on basic systems of interdisciplinary importance. Therefore, Goldberg continues his thought with the following words: "In the army, I tested innovations in accordance with military affairs, and now the area of technology that I am directly involved in."
Dr. Goldberg uses the term Talpiot Factor to emphasize the dependence of achievement or career success of a graduate who has completed this challenging nine-year course. He gives an interesting example. When, as vice president of the company, he was asked to invest heavily in a firm that studies cardiology, he accepted the offer, not least because the director of this firm is a Talpiot graduate.
Ofer Goldberg is proud that his company is founded on patriotic principles. He says: "Apart from practical reasons, the fact that the company operates in Israel is of particular importance to us."
WHO SURPRISED, WINNER
This well-known maxim, belonging to the great Russian commander Alexander Vasilyevich Suvorov, sounds especially relevant today. It is clear that in the confrontation with the enemy, the human factor is of primary importance. But it is impossible to defeat a serious enemy with bare hands or with antediluvian weapons. In our time of total computerization, it is young people who have barely crossed adolescence who perceive technological innovations in the best possible way. Therefore, it is quite obvious that they should be involved in this kind of development. More precisely, not all of them, but the most talented and promising ones.
Interestingly, in the twentieth century, the first attempt to create elite intellectual army units capable of doing research was made in the early 1920s by the commander of the land units of the Reichswehr (the German armed forces in 1919-1935, quantitatively and qualitatively limited by the terms of the Versailles Peace Treaty of 1919) General Hans von Seeckt (1866-1936). He initiated the creation of research laboratories for talented military personnel who showed themselves in scientific work. He was supported by some military, politicians and scientists. However, the chauvinistic German circles that were gaining strength did not like it when it turned out that Seeckt's idea was supported by Jews by origin - the director of the Institute of Physical Chemistry, Nobel laureate Admiral Fritz Haber, German Foreign Minister Walter Rathenau and Felix Teilhaber, a medical officer, one of the pioneers of aviation medicine.
Today, the command of the armed forces of a number of countries sets the task of creating army scientific units. However, in armies formed exclusively on a contract basis, it is impossible to attract for these purposes especially gifted 18-year-old recruits “in relation to the sciences”. And the reasons are obvious. First, because there are practically no such people and will never be. After all, if there is no compulsory conscription in the country, then those who have completed their school education "especially gifted" will prefer to receive higher education in military service.True, it is quite possible to attract contract servicemen to the army scientific units. But, as they say, it will be "a completely different calico." After all, in no army in the world are contract soldiers represented by young men. This is the second thing. So the sharpness of scientific perception in any case will be different. Thirdly, it is highly doubtful that young people with very high IQs will be recruited into the army for military service. This does not happen, after all, ordinary muscular guys who do not apply for Nobel Prizes prefer to pull the soldier's strap.
As far as Talpiot is concerned, such programs are quite possible in conscript armies. For example, in the Russian army. It is not surprising that recently an article appeared in one of the Moscow newspapers with a pretentious title: "Soldiers-scientists will appear in the army." The subtitle of the same article is even more impressive - "The Armed Forces will raise Nobel laureates from conscripts." And after all, in principle, this cannot be ruled out.
“We are starting a 'big hunt' for programmers. Hunting in the good sense of the word, because it is dictated by the volume of software that the army needs in the next five years … We want, on the one hand, to overcome some part of inertia, and on the other hand, we would like to see There has also appeared a new generation of people who will advance military science,”Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced at a meeting with university rectors and the rest of the public.
The minister's idea is good, but it is not yet clear how it will be implemented. Perhaps the Russian army will benefit from the experience of Israel, where the IDF has long existed an analogue of "scientific companies" - in the formations of computer security.
Unlike Russian "scientific companies", which are going to be formed from students, the contingent of Israeli military computer schools consists of 18-year-old recruits. They win their right to study in an intense competitive struggle long before being drafted into the army.
The army is looking for talented young people while still in secondary schools - they pass many tests as part of pre-conscription training, and at every stage of testing everyone who does not meet the strict army requirements is ruthlessly cut off. And there is someone to choose from: there are dozens of applicants for every place of the future cyber war fighter.
The cruel selection of candidates, study in an atmosphere of strict army discipline and exactingness, participation in real projects and fostering a sense of personal responsibility for the task entrusted - all these factors allow for the years of army service to prepare future leading Hi-Tech specialists who are able to compete on equal terms with graduates of technical universities … The prestige of the graduates of the army computer schools, among which the most famous are the schools belonging to the military intelligence and the IDF signal troops, is extremely high and enjoys international recognition; after demobilization, recruiters of the most famous firms are hunting for their graduates.
Those fortunate enough to successfully pass the admissions tests will receive an initial 6-month training course that combines computer science training with the combat training of a rookie soldier.
The term of active military service is 36 months. The most promising soldiers may then be asked to continue their military service. In this case, a contract is signed for a period of 3-5 years.
During these three years of conscript service, the soldier combines intensive training with participation in projects based on advanced technology. And although computer soldiers do not have to make 70-kilometer marches with full gear, like their peers from combat units, they will have no less intensive work in army computer centers.
Training computer platoons are trained in the same style as reconnaissance and sabotage units - every soldier knows that only the best will be able to complete the entire course to the end and enter the computer elite.Those who are unable to withstand this constant stress and intense competition will be expelled from school.
Dorit S., a graduate of the Army Computer School, says. She is 26 years old and works as a leading analyst at one of the multinational computer firms:
- Having studied at such a school, I can say that there was not a single day without tears. The tension is wild, studies at night, exams every few days, the results of which are ruthless screenings. And besides - the usual army service with guards and daily combat duty.
At seven in the morning - formation and divorce for classes, and so every day.
The fact that Israel today is a superpower in the field of high technologies is a considerable merit of the graduates of the army computer schools. In early 2013, in Israel, 36% of business owners and 29% of leading high-tech professionals were graduates of military computer schools.
Yossi Vardi, who founded Israel's first computer startup in 1969, believes that "the army's computer divisions have produced far more Hi-Tech millionaires than any business school."
Army Computer School graduate Gil Shved demobilized from the army in 1992 and created Check Point Software Technologies, which is now worth $ 1.8 billion.
Mirabilis was founded in 1996 by Army Computer School alumni Arik Vardi, Yair Goldfinger, Sephi Visiger and Amnon Amir after they were demobilized from the army. ICQ, an Internet messaging program developed by this company, instantly gained popularity around the world and brought its creators $ 400 million.
Uri Levin began his career as a software developer while still active in the military. After completing his military service, he signed a contract with the army for another five years. The knowledge and ideas accumulated over the years in the army helped him, after demobilization, create a startup that in 2008 developed such a software product as Waze - today, perhaps the most popular GPS navigator in the world. In 2013, the GPS navigator Waze was bought from Levin by Google for $ 1 billion.
As you can see from the above examples, for talented youth, army computer schools in Israel have become a kind of springboard for achieving commercial and creative success after demobilization. These people are interested in the army computer service because it gives them professional training and allows them to unleash their creativity.
The Russian army could well take advantage of the Israeli experience, making service in the "scientific companies" prestigious and profitable.