Feeling the burn
The IDF's largest basic training unit, the Combat Support Center (“Magal”) which is responsible for non-combat recruits' basic training is revolutionizing its system: Recruits will no longer go through basic training at Rifleman 01 level.
Instead, from now on all recruits destined for non-combat or combat support roles in the IDF will go through uniform training at Rifleman 02 level. The course will be one month long.
The change means that non-combat recruits who used to be able to go home every day and only had to undergo two weeks of light basic training will now have to feel the burn.
Recruits faced with Rifleman 02 level training can expect a three kilometer march in the field, at least two nights of field training and sleeping rough with the platoon.
This training 'revolution' will affect thousands of soldiers every year as Magal is responsible for the basic training of 60%-70% of IDF recruits. "Up until now the division between the different basic training types was 50-50," said Magal unit Commander Colonel Chai Meimon.
"The change will not be very costly, on the other hand, we get a whole new world, soldiers will be better equipped to defend themselves and will be better prepared for their roles in various units."
The change will naturally include female recruits and is not going to make life easy for anyone trying to get an exemption. According to Meimon, "Anyone who gets an exemption from sleeping in the field will remain with his friends in the field until 12 am and only then will be allowed to return to base."
Meimon also noted that the only exceptions will be given to special cases like the soldiers from problematic backgrounds. The volunteers' basic training will continue in its one week long program.
Meanwhile, Colonel Meimon has quite a bit of work ahead of him if the government or Defense Ministry decide to increase the number of haredi recruits.
While the Netzah Yehuda battalion has several hundred recruits annually, the haredi non-combat unit integration courses are sent to several rookie training camps. They spend the first stage of their military service at the Nitzanim basic training camp.
"At the moment there are two haredi recruit companies there and we can open three to four more companies. We aren't waiting and if they give us the order, it will happen tomorrow."
Meimon commended the haredi soldiers who are "considered to be very intelligent and disciplined and who come (here) to do their (military) service because they want to and not because someone is holding a knife to their throats."
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