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Partners For Change: Defense Conversion

The human and physical resources we once dedicated to winning the Cold War can now be rededicated to fulfilling unmet domestic needs.

Sadly, Israelis cannot enjoy any peace dividend from the end of the Cold War. The decline of the Soviet threat has not significantly reduced the dangers posed by surrounding Arab states that have maintained a state of war predating the Cold War. Still, Israel can probably offer some lessons in how to prepare military personnel for civilian professions. In fact, because Israel must remain in a constant state of readiness, and every man and woman must serve in the military, Israelis have long experience in how to ease the transition from military to civilian life.

Emphasize Civilian Technology

Clinton and Gore called for a greater emphasis on civilian technology and an increase in investment in high-tech applied research and development. In 1991-92, the Pentagon conducted a series of Allied Cooperation Enhancement Studies to determine what Israel had to offer the United States in aerospace, avionics, drug interdiction, critical technologies and counterterrorism. One of these studies related to the commercialization of defense-related critical technologies. Of the 21 critical technologies identified by the Pentagon, Israel can contribute to the development of 15.

In March 1993, President Clinton announced the creation of the U.S.-Israel Science and Technology Commission. Among other things, it will assist in the adaptation of military technology to civilian production.