As IDF goes high-tech, new ‘digital transformation’ commander takes role
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As IDF goes high-tech, new ‘digital transformation’ commander takes role

Brig. Gen. Ziv Avtalion to lead effort to bring military online, help it make the most of artificial intelligence tools as part of army’s new Momentum Plan

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Brig. Gen. Ziv Avtalion, left, takes over as the new head of the IDF's Digital Transformation Administration in a ceremony at the military's Tel Aviv headquarters on November 7, 2019. (Israel Defense Forces)
Brig. Gen. Ziv Avtalion, left, takes over as the new head of the IDF's Digital Transformation Administration in a ceremony at the military's Tel Aviv headquarters on November 7, 2019. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israel Defense Forces on Thursday appointed a new head of its Digital Transformation Administration, tasked with connecting all branches of the military to one operational internet.

In a ceremony at the IDF’s Tel Aviv headquarters, Brig. Gen. Ziv Avtalion took over the position from Brig. Gen. Omer Dagan, who commanded the administration since it was formed in 2018.

Though the Digital Transformation Administration has existed for nearly two years, the appointment of its new commander is seen by the IDF as an important milestone in the process of bringing the military online and granting all units better access to advanced technological tools.

“We were blessed with the opportunity to live in the midst of an information revolution and digital transformation, which is changing our lives dramatically. The IDF is making the most of digital systems as a main cornerstone that will increase our lethality and help us shorten the duration of a war,” the head of the IDF’s Teleprocessing Corps, Maj. Gen. Lior Carmeli, said at the ceremony for Avtalion.

Maj. Gen. Lior Carmeli, right, with the outgoing commander of the IDF’s Digital Transformation Administration, Brig. Gen. Omer Dagan, at a ceremony at the military’s Tel Aviv headquarters, November 7, 2019. (Israel Defense Forces)

The creation of the Digital Transformation Administration was part of IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi’s multi-year Momentum Plan, which is currently being rolled out.

The plan, which is meant to better prepare the IDF for rapid wars, places a high priority on the use of digital tools and technology to make troops more effective, particularly in locating targets for strikes.

“Artificial intelligence allows us to calculate huge amounts of information (Big Data) quickly, and in this way it helps us make effective and lethal decisions in our headquarters, on the tactical front line and in the field of battle,” Carmeli said.

In order to improve communication between the various branches and units of the IDF, Avtalion’s Digital Transformation Administration is also tasked with connecting the entire military to a centralized “operational internet,” as the IDF refers to it.

On a more quotidian level, the administration is meant to improve the IDF’s customer service and make it easier for soldiers, veterans and pre-draft recruits to communicate with the military,by moving away from outdated technology like fax machines, which the IDF still uses, and toward improved websites and other online services.

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