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Jewish Group Gets an Inside Look at Defense Department Operations

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In what has become an annual ritual, members of a Jewish group focusing on national security issues were taken this week on a daylong trip into the secretive corners of the Pentagon for briefings with high-level Defense Department officials.

This year, it was approximately 30 members of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs’ Young Leadership Division who spent Monday meeting with Pentagon officials, including experts on the budget, strategic force planning and ballistic missile defense and proliferation.

The focus during the day of off-the-record briefings was more on U.S. defense policies than on Israel and the Middle East.

But in one session on ballistic missile technologies, the Pentagon briefer shrugged off concerns raised in a recent congressional report about Israel’s Arrow missile program.

The report, by the General Accounting Office, suggested that Israel might have transferred U.S. technology connected to the Arrow missile project to third parties. But the Pentagon briefer indicated that the Defense Department did not share the GAO’s concerns.

Shoshana Bryen, JINSA’s special projects director, who attended the briefings, said this was not the first time that JINSA officials had heard Pentagon officials dismiss the GAO report.

On another Israel-related proliferation question, Bryen said the Pentagon official was “unwilling to point a finger at Israel” on the issue of reported Israeli technology sales to China. But the briefer did not complain about this, Bryen said.

Overall, the group learned about “how post-Cold War philosophy guides” defense,” said Bryen.

The JINSA members were surprised by some of what they discovered, including how much money is spent on ecological and nuclear-cleanup programs and how much time is spent on planning “non-fighting” strategy, such as peacekeeping and disaster relief.

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