The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee convened on Tuesday to mark the annual day of appreciation for the IDF's reserve troops, but the festive mood quickly turned sour with soldiers and officials testifying to the Resrve Forces' fraying state.
"It's fine for the IDF to make cuts, but the implications are that we don't train, and we're not ready for war," Nitzan Peles, an IDF reservist, said in his address of the committee.
"My unit has gear because it is prestigious, but other units don't have enough equipment. Soldiers won't be able to fight in the next war."
'Soldiers won't be able to fight in next war.' (Photo: Michael Kramer)
MK Eitan Cabel cited several regiment commanders as saying that no progress has been made since last year's session, during which they relayed issues that are faced by the corps.
"Unfortunately, the state of the Reserves Forces is even more difficult than that of the regular forces," he said. "When you look at the reserves system, you see the real crisis."
A survey presented during the session found that the troops' satisfaction with their reserve service dropped from 65% to 57% since the year 2000. The soldier's trust in their commanders has also experienced a drop over the past decade – from 79% to 74%.
The troops' sense of preparedness for emergencies dropped by 9%, and only 39% of soldiers said that their equipment is suitable for operations.
'IDF can't win without reserves'
Despite the disconcerting data, 84% of reserve soldiers still said that if they would be called to serve, they would report for duty immediately. Nearly 70% believe that they will take part in combat during their next round of duty.
Major-General Barbivai at session (Photo: Knesset Channel)
Money-wise, 42% of regiment commanders and 24% of all reservists claimed that the service hurts them financially.
Major-General Orna Barbivai, the head of the IDF Personnel Directorate, noted during the session that a day of reserve service costs the army NIS 500 per soldier ($130).
"When the budget is limited, training the forces is burdensome," she said.
Peles, the reservist, dismissed the data: "All the numbers that are being presented here are worthless. I am not willing to die for a cover up."
Barbivai expressed hope that the session would lead to significant conclusions on the Reserve Forces.
"The reserve corps is the principle force of the IDF. The army cannot win without the reserve corps," she said. "The Second Lebanon War was a pivotal event – a warning sign for all of us."
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