The Israeli Defense Force achieved a series of operational successes in recent years thanks to a group of soldiers with autism who contributed their unique abilities to Intelligence Unit 9900, Israel’s Channel 10 reported on Wednesday.
Dr. Yorem Bonneh, a professor at the University of Haifa’s department of Human Biology, has led several studies, including one funded by Israel’s Defense Ministry, into the visual perceptive abilities of people on the autistic spectrum. Among other things, Dr. Bonneh has found that these individuals often approach complex visual problems objectively, and are unburdened by how things “ought to be”.
The Israeli Satellite Intelligence Unit provides essential information used by the military to execute highly complicated operations. This data is gathered using satellites orbiting Earth, high above the combat arena. In addition to satellites, Unit 9900 uses manned aircrafts and drones, as well as advanced sensors.
The autistic young men and women who serve in Unit 9900 can sit for hours in front of electronic maps spotting the most minute changes, Channel 10 said. This is a rare ability that eludes most non-autistic soldiers.
Mossad chief Tamir Pardo is credited with initiating the program aimed at integrating Israel’s autistic population into the country’s military apparatus. Soldiers who fall within the autistic spectrum must first complete a special course before joining Unit 9900, Channel 10 said. During the training, young men and women learn how to decipher maps and aerial photographs. Through the course, the soldiers also achieve greater independence as they learn to execute basic but essential tasks such as riding the bus to and from base
Source: Times of Israel