The IMI Academy for Advanced Security and Anti-Terror Training was established after the company realized that their clients were not content with the procurement of pistols and learning how to field-strip and reassemble firearms for cleaning purposes, but were also interested in basic tactical training.
"We focus on state agencies and institutions that need the kind of training we provide here; we train security guards and officers for those positions where the standards we maintain here provide the added value to their training," says academy principal Ami Maor.
"The academy was originally established as a school for security and anti-terror warfare. It is appropriate to teach security in Israel, but for anti-terror training you do not really need an academy, as there are specialist anti-terror units and each runs its own school, so in this field we focus on the training of foreign clients. As we are a part of IMI, the Ministry of Defense supervises our every move, more than any other similar organization. We do not teach anyone, from anywhere in the world, without the express authorization of the Defense Export Supervision Division at the Israeli Ministry of Defense."
How does your training program work?
"We work cooperatively with the defense establishment; we are guided and supervised by it and cooperate with it in writing combat doctrines. In some respects, we constitute an outsourced training institution of the defense establishment.
"We train security personnel to armed and unarmed warfighter standards, while emphasizing the security officer's image and conduct. Such a training program can take between five days and six weeks and even longer. The training we provide focuses on the use of firearms, combat skills generally, unarmed combat and physical fitness and everything that goes with it, including basic knowledge of explosives and first aid. We derive our lessons from actual occurrences in Israel and abroad."
What could be learned from the terrorist attack in Burgas, Bulgaria in the summer of 2012 or from the terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon last April?
"In these cases, it is necessary to check whether the training the security personnel had received is suitable to the kind of event they have experienced. Our basic assumption is that terrorist attacks cannot be totally prevented. The attacker's options can be restricted, you can minimize and you can deter. In a marathon run of 42 kilometers, where the entire city abounds with spectators who serve water to the runners and wave flags, if someone wants to stage an attack there will be almost nothing you can do against it. Every child that comes along with a bag is a potential attacker.
"The reference threats with which we are familiar from the past have not changed too much, and if you prepare to deal with terrorist attackers, explosive charges, intrusion into infrastructure installations or other strategic installations, those threats have remained relevant. There is no magic cure and no one can come up and say: as of today, there will no longer be suicide bomber attacks in shopping malls.
"Moreover, you are not facing just one specific opponent, which means that in the training of security personnel, we keep telling them that they must not dive into a routine, but function all the time under the assumption that something is going to happen during their shift. It is based on intelligence. If you have good intelligence, it will be easier for you to prevent, but once you have an attacker that comes to a bus park, for example, and no previous information is available about him – prevention will be nearly impossible.
"The performance standard attained by the security personnel is based on two elements – basic training and insights, and the amount of tactical exercises they go through which simulate real-life events. Now, there are also several circuits: early warning is one, deterrence is two, intelligence is three and the response capability is four, and there is also the subject of close range and long range security circuits.
"During the Second Intifada, in the beginning of the previous decade, when there were terrorist attacks against buses in Israel, the Israeli Ministry of Transport established a unit charged with the task of securing the bus routes and the problem was provided with solutions on several levels – onboard the buses themselves, at the bus stops and between stops, along the routes. The doctrine is a state doctrine, and I assume that this doctrine, all things considered, contributed to the fact that there are no more attacks against buses for the time being."
According to Maor, at the academy they hardly deal with high-level technologies, but more with the training of the responding forces. "If new technological measures become available, we will know how to test them with our clients – firearms, accessories, monitoring and alert systems of various types. The clients normally decide which measures they would like to use and we adapt ourselves and create the appropriate doctrine."
Maor says that in the future, the academy could expand into activities they have not dealt with so far: "We hope to double the size of the academy, and intend to operate a school for 4x4 standard operational driving, in addition to the wreckage site we have, where we train rescue and salvaging forces. We intend to establish the infrastructure for training persons who deal with the clearing of minefields and are currently preparing ourselves for this scenario. Additionally, we are expanding our range of activities into the various aspects of first aid, in cooperation with Magen David Adom (Israel's emergency medical service) and other rescue agencies."