Intel officers express reluctance to move south

Plan to create Military Intelligence center in Negev facing difficulties as officers express reluctance to make move south; IDF warns: Brightest minds will find work outside army

A great deal of money and effort are being invested in the giant IDF project of transferring all Military Intelligence Directorate (Aman) bases to the Negev.


Except now it seems that nearly half of intelligence officers aren't willing to move to the south at all – at least not under existing conditions.


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The dramatic move is meant to start in 2015 and go on for several years. At the end of it, 85% of intelligence officers and soldiers will serve in a new base which will be set up in the Negev. The Central Collection Unit of the Intelligence Corps, Unit 8200; the teaching base of the Intelligence Corps; the technological unit; and other Aman facilities will all be moved to the Beersheba vicinity.


Infrastructure work will begin soon, which will include digging underground bunkers to store classified material. Dozens of millions of shekels are being invested in new and advanced technologies, but as it turns out, there is a main obstacle on the way to realize the project.


In a poll conducted by the Intelligence Corps itself, revealed here for the first time, Aman officers were asked if they'd agree to serve in the south. A massive 43% of officers said they have no intention of joining the move to serve in the south; 22% of officers said they'd only consider serving in the south under certain conditions, like a train that will bring them back to the center. Only 35% said they were willing to serve in the south.


When asked if they would be willing to actually move to the south with their families, 53% of officers said no. Some 33% said they'd consider it, and only 14% said they'd move. Many of those polled said they would move only if a high level of education, health and culture will be available to them.


'How do we keep them in the IDF?'

The Military Intelligence is already struggling against external competition in an attempt to keep Intel officers in the IDF. Offers from firms, especially in the technological professions, offer much better conditions.


"I had this brilliant officer come to me," a senior officer in Aman said, "People who served with him and left for civilian work made millions of dollars, and he makes less than NIS 12,000 a month. Now we had to cancel his school, and he wants to leave. How do I keep him in the IDF? How exactly am I supposed to make him go to the south?"


Another senior officer said: "We're already very troubled by outside competition, and it will only worsen with the budget cuts and become a catastrophe when the move to the south is completed, if the State doesn't provide the level of quality of life for those officers. We're building the best, most advanced base, but if the best minds don't come along, it's ineffective."


According to an officer in charge of IDF human resources, the move could also seriously damage the motivation of young officers deciding about their future. "Why should they leave the center? Because of Zionism? The guy from Ramat Hasharon doesn't care about Zionism."


The 8200 unit is an attraction for talented young people from the center of Israel. The unit's soldiers and officers enjoy an interesting and meaningful service that isn't too far from home, and its graduates are snatched by hi-tech companies as soon as they leave the army. The move will mark the beginning of service in a closed base – far from home. The State is planning to sweeten the deal by creating movie theaters, sports arenas and other facilities, much like in Air Force bases around the countries.


In an attempt to deal with the challenge the move to the south raises, the IDF is already tracing teenagers who would suit Aman in the south of the country, and in the Intelligence Corps, cooperation with schools in the cyber field is already forming, so that residents from the south are more included in the unit's formation.


But that might not be enough, the IDF says. A senior officer warned: "This is a national problem that the state has to think about. The Intelligence Force is built on its quality man power. If the move to the south drives all those people away, it's not just the corps and the IDF that will be in a bind – it's the entire State of Israel," he said.


Yossi Yehoshua is a Yedioth Ahronoth correspondent



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פרסום ראשון: 11.20.13, 13:06
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