Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit
Chief of Staff Benny Gantz
Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit
Photo: Gettyimages
Photo: Gettyimages

IDF cuts bode uncertain future for career soldiers

Five-year plan to save army NIS 7 billion, but will send 3,000-5,000 career soldiers home. 'People think I'm a freeloader, but I make only NIS 4,000,' says one officer

As part of the new IDF budget cut plan, the main points of which were released on Wednesday, between 3,000 and 5,000 officers and non-commissioned officers will be dismissed from duty.


At the same time 1,000 new career soldiers will be integrated to arrays which the IDF is interested in boosting, including Military Intelligence and the Teleprocessing Corps.


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According to the IDF, the purpose of the new plan is "to make the army leaner and more muscular, while matching the threats evolving in the Middle East." Therefore, those whose service will be discontinued are career soldiers on the home front or in executive roles, some of whom already consider their insecure future.


אימון ברמת הגולן. ארכיון (צילום: Gettyimages)

Exercise in the Golan Heights (Photo: Gettyimages)


"As a mother to a small child, you'll think twice now before you think of enlarging the family in this situation," said a 26-year-old major, who serves as a staff officer in one of the branches of the Ground Forces.


"Since I have a BA and I've served a while in a combat unit then I'm 'rich' relative to officers who serve with me and have the same rank. But still, my net earnings are less than NIS 7,000 (about $2,000). I hoped to pursue a career in the IDF but now I'll have to reconsider everything," she said. 


"My brother is a young 21-year-old officer who's deliberating whether to sign on for two more years, and I recommend him to consider a civilian career. It was once common to think that while the pay is low at least there's job security, but these cuts have shown it to be a myth."


Conversely, a 33-year-old non-commissioned officer ranked first sergeant and father to three, who serves in a base in northern Israel, voiced more concern: "We're not at the front, but thanks to our hard work on armored vehicles, every day, under the sun, with greased hands and with a feeling of purpose, the IDF is on its feet. I'm not old, but at my age it's more difficult to find a job."


'Not a freeloader'

The plan is set to save the IDF budget NIS 7 billion ($1.92 billion)  in five years. It includes, among others, shutting down several Air Force squadrons, armored units, warships, reserve units and more.


A., a career officer in the reserves command, is scheduled to get married this summer, and may be ordered back into civilian life.


"I'm proud to wear the uniform but I'm ashamed at my pay stub," he said. "My net salary is about NIS 4,000 (about $1,100) but people outside are under the impression that career soldiers are a bunch of freeloaders. Even before these cuts people were dismissed, and others are raising children with income support. We see the reports on the seaport employees and we don't know whether to laugh or cry."


Drill cuts

At the same time, many combat units have received notices of cutting down dozens of percents in their drills as a result of the coming year's budget cuts. One of them is an artillery battalion in the Golan division.


גם אימוני הסדירים מקוצצים. "מסתכל על התוכנית בדאגה" (צילום: אבישג שאר ישוב)

(Photo: Avishag Shaar-Yeshuv) 


Part of any future confrontation on the northern front, its annual exercise time was cut by three weeks, which prevented its soldiers to perform the final comprehensive drill.


The rest of the artillery battalions in the division – the largest in the IDF – will suffer cuts in an average range of seven weeks a year. The move will extend their operational deployment to ten months a year, almost the same as between the years 2000 and 2006.


The Kfir Brigade and the Egoz Unit have experienced similar cuts already. An elite armored unit drill in Zeelim, meant to include a joint action with an aircraft, was cancelled after the squadron received a notice it is being permanently dismantled.


The partial solution to the cuts saga will be short drills which will take soldiers out of patrol duty in the West Bank or around the Gaza Strip. But it is currently unclear whether the move will be at regular operations' expense or whether the forces will be boosted.


"I look with concern at the plan and I fear our readiness will be damaged," a high-ranked officer told Ynet. "What's left in the army must stay high-quality. We can't return to the same situation we were in on the eve of the Second Lebanon War. We mustn't lose the faith of our reserves which we've rebuilt over the last seven years."



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פרסום ראשון: 07.11.13, 00:31
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