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Daily Israel Report

IDF Boosts Integration for Ethiopian-Israeli Soldiers

Study finds the IDF's Amir course for Ethiopian-born soldiers increases motivation to join elite units.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 2/25/2011, 11:20 AM / Last Update: 2/26/2011, 8:29 PM

IDF

A new study has found that the IDF's Amir course for soldiers from the Ethiopian community is successful in boosting recruits' motivation, self-esteem, and confidence under pressure.

Israelis from Ethiopia have served in the IDF since the 1980s, and are known for their high rates of enlistment and patriotism. Previous courses aimed at improving service for the Ethiopian community showed some success; however, ten years ago studies showed that despite the IDF's outreach efforts, most Ethiopian-Israeli soldiers served as cooks, drivers, and in similar non-combat positions.

Using the success of the Ethipian soldiers who did make it into combat units as a guide, and fearing that the studies showed the IDF was not successfully utilizing Ethiopian-born soldiers' potential, commanders decided to form a new course, called Amir, to boost motivation and help soldiers move into “high-quality” positions in the IDF, such as elite units or service as officers.

The course is a definite success, the latest study showed. More than 40% of the soldiers who completed Amir training went on to serve in “high-quality” roles, while the same was true of 23.3% of soldiers in a control group.

The soldiers who took part in Amir also gave a higher assessment of their own abilities, and rated their self-esteem an average 4.22 on a scale from 1 to 6, while the average control group rating was 3.28. In addition, they reported higher levels of confidence in their own abilities to perform well and withstand pressure.

It is hoped that more and more Ethiopian parents will be seen at the ceremonies where soldiers who have finished special unit combat training are given their well-earned beret, whose color represents the unit in which they serve, after successfully trekking what is known in the IDF as "the beret hike" (masa kumta)