Historically, the army has had difficulty convincing troops to sign up for driving positions due to the negative image that haunts them. The long hauls and often difficult conditions have also been detrimental to manpower goals.
But the IDF Moving and Transportation Center has managed to change all that by securing funds for incentives that brought many soldiers flocking to its doors, including flight options for lone soldiers, days off linked to various assignments, field days, and even prizes: An MP3 player at the end of basic training, a Leatherman jackknife at the end of a 'Safari' course, a leather wallet upon achieving seniority, and a shaver for outstanding troops.
The new program has also summoned soldiers from populations that were not previously considered for driving positions, such as religious, haredi, and female troops.
The data shows great success. Dropout rates are down from 40% in 2007 to 20% in 2009, and there are currently even 17 officers, up from just one in 2006. The program has even won the transport center a special prize from the IDF Manpower Directorate.
"No doubt we are on the cusp of a revolution," an IDF official told Ynet. "There are even soldiers applying to become drivers now."
The success of the program is attributed to Colonel Yoram Azulai, who heads the center and has a history very similar to the troops he is trying to enlist. As a novice soldier, he entered a combat unit but was quickly ousted due to medical issues. He was placed in a transport unit and "fell in love" with it.
"I know how these soldiers feel, why they try to get out of serving, and what goes through their heads," he says. Azulai is even changing the unit emblem, from an elephant with its trunk hanging down to one with a lifted trunk. Indeed, a revolution.
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