“Take Gal Hirsch for example,” I said. “He’s a nice guy; he studied at my high school. At the end of the last war he had to resign from the IDF after the Almog Commission recommended that he be dismissed. The next time we hear about him, he’s in Georgia, training their infantry units.”
“Well,” said the major general, “what’s the problem?”
The problem is that the IDF’s qualitative advantage is not the quality of its weapons. Anyone can buy weapons. The Tavor rifle for example, which Israel’s military industries are so proud of, is on sale on the Internet these days for $1,130 apiece.
The IDF’s real advantage is its combat doctrines. Sixty years of accumulated wisdom, training plans formulated over long periods of time, battlefield management, the relationship between headquarters and troops on the ground, fighting under fire, coordination between forces, and the numerous little details every officer is familiar with.
Yet this wisdom of all things is something that anyone can sell anywhere he feels like it. The last time the IDF offered a special course to its division commanders, Gal Hirsch was sitting in the front row, taking notes. His information is up-to-date, and can be sold to anyone willing to pay.
A national scandal
And look who’s willing to pay: Georgia has a long border with Azerbaijan, a country where more than 90% of residents are Shiite Muslims. Anyone can cross the border, find an observation post on a small hill, and after a month he will know exactly how the IDF trains its forces; he will know how we respond when someone fires at us, what is our latest warfare doctrine, and how to build elite units.
The Georgians proudly said that Hirsch came to “teach them how to build their own Sayeret Matkal,” the IDF’s most elite unit. Do we really want the Shiites to posses this information as well? I asked the major general.
He seemed embarrassed. “When you say it like this,” he said, “it really doesn’t sound too good.” So why do you let it happen? I asked. “I don’t know,” he replied. “Nobody spoke to me about this before.”
Another senior IDF officer I called just to make sure there is no law that prevents this from happening was even harsher. “This is a national scandal,” he said. “Yet we’re just the army. We don’t make the rules.”