Sun-Tzu wrote “military affairs are country’s vital political concerns,” and in order to do that you need to have good intelligence gathering agencies, and if you possess less resources than your enemies the more vital information is to your cause. The nation of Israel has that very problem, and with enemies that are willing to fight for centuries every strike has to count. Like many nations today Israel has to deal with conventional military threats and fanatics in their mists and from outside their country. In any conflict training is important and Mossad values it and continuously improves it to deal with new enemies.
Mossad which is Hebrew for “institute” was created to help better coordinate Israel’s intelligence gathering agencies, and among its responsibilities is gathering for human intelligence, covert paramilitary actions, and counterterrorism operations. The agency was influenced heavily by the CIA model, and it quickly produced results for the new nation. The agency’s roots began in the Mossad Le’aliyah Bet which was dedicated to bring in Jews to Palestine despite British immigration laws restricting the number of immigrants to the region, but once Israel became a nation the group’s focus shifted to intelligence work. Reuven Shiloah became the first Director of the Mossad and would obtain the Arab League in the first Arab-Israeli War. Over the years the agency has had many critics, but few dispute the fact that they get the job done.
Today Mossad’s headquarters is in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv, and employs an unknown number of agents, but it is believed that there are 8 departments and over 1,000 active agents. Among the agency’s departments is the Special Operations Division which is charged with assassinations, sabotage, and psychological warfare. Other departments handle aspects concerning intelligence work including maintaining diplomatic relations with Israel’s enemies and the agency has its own research and development departments, but like all others little is known about their operations.
Since Israel had mandatory military service it is safe to assume the majority of their agents have been trained in close combat and many have combat experience. The Israel martial art Krav Maga is taught to operatives for self defense as well as knife fighting and sentry removal. Many veterans of the agency worked as commandos in the Israeli Defense Force, so their operations have been influenced by this experience as well as the street fighting they have had to do over the years.
A Mossad case officer or katsa spends three years training in the Mossad’s academy near the town of Herzliya. There they learn how to recruit intelligence assets and avoid enemy agents. They’re believed to operate in the Middle East and Europe, but some believe they operate in the United State also, and prior to the September 11th attack Mossad warned the United States that some 200 enemy terrorists were in the country though they didn’t know specifically what they were doing.
The truth is still in the shadows when it comes to many operations, but agents have used bombs, bullets and have even kidnapped people to accomplish their goals, and only recently torture has been officially banned by the state. Operations have involved everything from chasing down Nazi war criminals to hunting down and killing terrorists. During the Six Day war in 1967 Israeli intelligence was responsible for helping to destroy much of Egypt’s air force, but also caused the attack on the United States Navy technical research ship, USS Liberty. Like any intelligence agency your failures are public and your successes are private, but overall the Israelis are at the top of there game. Like martial arts themselves, intelligence is a force multiplier that lets you do more damage with less, and Israel will always be at a disadvantage, but it doesn’t mean they can’t win.