Itongadol.- The first Israel Defense Forces soldiers to be drafted for 32 months of service – four months less than has been the case until now – are expected to don their uniforms in the coming days. In order to maintain the preparedness of the units, the IDF will recruit hundreds of salaried fighters for a period of several months. At the same time, the army intends to bring additional demands to the Knesset during the coming year to extend women’s service by four months, as the Shaked Committee originally discussed.
IDF shortens mandatory service, to hire salaried fighters for short stints
Among other things, the army plans to leave about 700 soldiers in the format of additional service for pay, particularly in units where there are long training periods and in special technological groups. According to a senior female officer in the Manpower Directorate, “Leaving soldiers to do additional service for pay will be carried out only sparingly – a few hundred soldiers.”
In addition, the army is planning to change the physical assessment (“profile”) that determines the assignment of soldiers to some units, such as the aerial defense system, the rescue units of the Home Front Command, and the brigades at border crossings composed of Military Police and Border Police.
In effect, these units will be assigned soldiers with a Home Front profile – 64 – but those who are able, according to the Medical Corps, to carry out the assignments that these units will perform. Already today the Home Front brigades carry out operational activity in the West Bank, including arrests, therefore it is not clear how it will be possible to change the riflery level of these soldiers, as recommended by the Manpower Directorate.
The IDF is examining another program whose main feature is shortening the training periods for soldiers. The General Staff has yet to decide whether to change the training plan so that soldiers will have three months of basic training and three months of professional training, instead of the present four months of each. This step would require adding another annual recruitment date, and therefore the army is considering another option – differential changes in the training period, depending on the various corps.
Two other programs reported in Haaretz will also be implemented in the context of preparations for abridging the men’s service: canceling the preparation course for officers, and reducing the assignment of male and female soldiers to units outside the ranks of the army, like the police, the Mossad, the Shin Bet security service and the Israel Prison Service.
The army claimed during the presentation of the arrangement to the Knesset that shortening men’s service will create a shortage of about 10,000 soldiers, 3,700 of them front-line troops. Now the army is claiming that the figures are lower: about 6,000 soldiers, 2,500 of them fighters.
Senior officers in the Manpower Directorate claim that the source of the disparity lies in the way the figures were presented: During the Knesset discussion they presented the gap between the present manpower planning, if it continues as usual in 2019, and the manpower situation after the cutback.
Today, the figures are adjusted for additional changes that have taken place in the size of the army, and present the difference between the size of the forces today compared to the situation at the peak of the decline in manpower in 2018 and 2019. Therefore, starting next year the army intends to increase the quota of soldiers who receive a “draft postponement” for a year of national civilian service and/or studies in a pre-army preparatory course by 10 percent.
This option, in effect, artificially increases the number of potential recruits each year, so that it will be possible to “cover” the gap that will be created in the years when a number of intakes of recruits will be released at the same time.