Major General (Ret.) Amir Eshel is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD). He is an accomplished fixed-wing and rotary-wing pilot and commander who served in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) for more than 40 years, including during the 1982 and 2006 Lebanon wars and the 2008-2009, 2012, and 2014 Gaza conflicts. 

From 2020 to 2023, Amir served as the director general of the Israeli Ministry of Defense. He led defense procurement, research and development with Israel’s defense industries and efforts to boost Israel’s defense exports. He also led dramatic reform, helping wounded in action to recover and rebuild their lives. 

From 2012 to 2017, Amir served as commander in chief of the Israeli Air Force (IAF), integrating new systems including David’s Sling for intercepting missiles and leading the first campaign with direct command over other services. Notably, he was the first air force commander globally to commission and fly the F-35. In 2017, he received the Department of Defense’s Legion of Merit award for his long-standing partnership with the U.S. Air Force.  

From 2008 to 2012, Amir led the formulation of national security strategy for the Israeli government as head of the Planning Directorate in the Israeli General Staff. He oversaw sensitive interfaces with countries in the region and served as senior partner in interactions with the U.S. State Department,  Department of Defense, and National Security Council. 

From 2006 to 2008, Amir served as chief of staff of the Israeli Air Force, responsible for strengthening the service after the second Lebanon War. In 2003, he led the IAF F-15 flight over Auschwitz. 

Amir is a graduate of Israel’s National Defense College, with a B.A. from Auburn University in Alabama and an M.A. in Security and Policy Studies from Haifa University. 

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