General (res.) Yitzhak Brik published what will be his final annual report as IDF and Defense Ministry ombudsman having occupied the post for a decade.
“If I read you these reports, you would fall over,” Brik said of the report whose content is not made available to the public.
The report is rife with pessimistic conclusions and highlights a series of failures in the IDF apparatus that he says could come to the fore in the IDF’s levels of preparation during the next war.
According to Brik, concerning discrepancies exist between the public declarations and bravado about the IDF’s capabilities and the realities on the ground.
“There are documents that back up my claims and not only direct statements from senior officers and officers in the field,” he explained.
“There is a lack of regular military monitoring of military processes, disciplinary problems and a failure to fulfil orders. Take as an example the fact that two billion shekels were invested in emergency storage units after the Second Lebanon War, but the project was abandoned,” Brik said.
Asked by Ynet about the level of the IDF’s readiness in the event that a war breaks out in the near future in the south, Brik was reticent. “I prefer not to say,” he said.
“In the IDF, they always claimed that I interfere in areas that are not mine, but it’s a fact that because of my reports they dealt with the emergency storage units, with observation posts and with soldiers who deal with the Iron Dome and with neglected training bases in the Golan,” he continued.
In Brik’s findings, he points to the low quality particularly among the rank of junior command all the way to battalion rank, which he says stems from two process that were simultaneously executed.
The first, he explained, was the cutting of mandatory three-year military service among men by four months, which he said will result in a shortage of 6,000 soldiers in regular service over the course of the next four years, half of whom are combat support troops.
The second change, he said, was the huge cut of over 4,000 career soldiers over the past four years.
“Company commanders don’t want to go any further,” the ombudsman concluded. “Many good officers retire at a young age and brigade commanders complain that they have to give their blood and sweat to keep good officers. The slashing of service time created huge burdens that lowers standards and brought about a lack of performance and damage that can’t be repaired.”
The report also bemoans the continued use of smartphones and applications, particularly WhatsApp and the use of unsecured email servers “as a way to manage unit routine” despite the dangerous phenomenon being pointed out in previous reports.
“Soldiers and commanders conduct exercises with smartphones and go around with them during operational activities. Are you waiting for a disaster to happen?” he asked.
“A soldier with a smartphone next to a border fence can reveal the army’s position. Smartphones have to be handed over before exercises of military operations,” he suggested.
Such phenomena, which are rampant from the General Staff down, “cause serious harm to leadership and the ability to command.”