Ex-TSA chief lauds Israel ties, says more to come
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The former head of the US Transportation Security Administration said that he expected American-Israeli defense cooperation to expand in coming years, as the two countries collaborate on military projects and band together against an increasingly unpredictable Middle East.Peter Neffenger, a retired vice commandant of the US Coast Guard and head of the TSA during Barack Obama's last 18 months as president, visited Israel this month as part of a delegation of 10 former high-ranking US military officials with a group known as the Jewish Institute for National Security of America.
During the 10-day paid trip, he and the other retired generals met with the head of the Mossad, IDF generals, the deputy head of the Shin Bet security service and other Israeli officials in order to learn about the threats facing the Jewish state and what Israel is doing to tackle them.
According to Neffenger, by visiting Israel's borders and meeting directly with Israeli security officials, the group was able to see the country's "Strategic challenges" up close and also "Immediately see how [policies] have to be applied every single day at the tactical level."
For Israel, these annual JINSA visits are seen as an opportunity to both teach retired US generals about Israel's security situation and forge connections between Israeli and American defense officials, which can have considerable influence on US policies.
Neffenger was already more acquainted with Israeli security challenges and techniques than most of the other US officials on the trip, having consulted with Israeli officials on the issue of airport security in his capacity as head of the TSA. Israel is considered a world leader in airport security, developing many of the techniques and technologies that are now in use at terminals around the world.
The former TSA administrator noted that Israel has a different culture and set of laws that allow its airport authority to adopt measures that the US cannot, Neffenger said.
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