The current defense establishment's budget cannot withstand the costs of a Gaza campaign, sources told Ynet Tuesday.
The defense establishment's deficit stands at NIS 9 billion ($2.37 billion) and according to military sources, the it stands to have a detrimental effect on the military's subcontractors, as well as on its ability to train and use its Reserve Forces.
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The next fiscal year may see cuts in Reserves' training, as well as in various Home Front Command projects. Moreover, investments in the Iron Dome, Magic Wand and Hetz missile defense systems may suffer as well.
The sources noted that the defense establishment's funding falls short of the Brodet Committee outline, which ordered the steady increase in funds as part of the government's post-Second Lebanon War defense readiness plan.
The circumstances which have led to the depletion of the defense establishment's funds in such a security-sensitive time raise questions as to its fiscal conduct, as well as to the weight lent to special parliamentary commission's recommendations by the Prime Minister's Office, the Defense Ministry and the Treasury.
Iron Dome. At risk? (Photo: Shaul Golan)
The Brodet Committee recommended that the defense budget be increased by NIS 90 billion ($23.8 billion) over the course of a decade, with NIS 800 million ($210 million) set aside as emergency funds; but ill budgetary planning have resulted in the defense establishment "eating through" its emergency reserves to cover its deficits.
The IDF allocated NIS 26.4 billion ($7 billion) for a six-year upgrading plan, but its expenditures over the Home Front Command's missile defense systems have already eaten away at more than NIS 18 billion ($4.75 billion).
The military is also struggling to finance some of its mandatory expenditures due to various increases of products and materials in the defense market.
Surprisingly, the NIS 3 billion ($790 million) cut suggested as part of the Trajtenberg Committee's recommendations on social reform stands to harm the military's resources the least, as the defense establishment is due to receive NIS 2.4 billion ($630 million) in expenditure restitution from the state, over the 2009 and 2010 budgets.
Training to be cut? (Illustration: George Ginsburg)
Still, there is a NIS 2 billion gap between the Treasury-approved defense budget for 2012 and what the Defense Ministry says it needs in order to meet the various challenges Israel faces.
In order to deal with the growing deficit, the IDF has deferred payments to several of its subcontractors and has suspended future contracts – even though such a move may compromise the development of its missile defense systems.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen Benny Gantz has also ordered a serried of austerity measures meant to save the military NIS 700 million ($184 million) a year, including a 20% cut in Reserves' training, a cut in overall training and cuts in various projects, such as the expansion of the Gaza security fence.
The Treasury claims that the predicament the defense establishment finds itself in "serves to underscore the face that the Defense Ministry has exceeded all of its budgets, and is in violation of the rules of proper administration."
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