The IDF is considering to once again shorten men’s compulsory military service by two months, just three years after mandatory military service was cut from 36 months to 32 months.
Israel’s security cabinet is scheduled to hear opinions from the defense minister and the IDF chief of staff next March about the proposal to shave off another two months for men from 32 months to 30 months, beginning in June 2020.
Women will continue to serve a total of 24 months.
Men served 36 months in the IDF for many years, but in 2015 their compulsory service was cut down to 32 as part of the IDF’s multi-year Gideon Plan to improve efficiency.
The additional reduction of time is intended to allow for longer service by elite soldiers in units, while allowing soldiers in less essential positions the ability to start their studies and civilian life earlier.
A plan initiated by IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot would see the elite soldiers from Sayeret Matkal, Shayetet 13, Shaldag, 669 and the Oketz canine unit sign on for three years compulsory service followed by another three years as a career soldiers, and two years studying for a college degree.
Men serving in roles such as medics, or junior command positions such as tank commanders or infantry squad leaders, would sign up at the beginning of their service for additional time, allowing the IDF to fully exploit their training.
In comparison, soldiers serving in administrative positions would have their service cut to 30 months.
According to Hadashot TV, the Finance Ministry demanded that service be cut down an additional two months, to 28 months, allowing the ministry to save an estimated NIS 3 billion a year, a plan the IDF argued against.
The plan, which was discussed back in 2016 when it was initially approved by the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, has had its fair share of critics, including Construction Minister Yoav Gallant who said the further cuts would endanger Israel’s security.
“Shortening compulsory service by an additional two months, following the four months by which it has already been shortened, is equivalent to a reduction of a quarter of the standing army,” Gallant was quoted by Hadashot TV as saying. “There is no other army that will protect Israel’s security – I will oppose this with all my might in the cabinet and the government.”
The shortening of service and the reduction in the number of career soldiers in the army to 40,000 by firing some 2,500 career soldiers, including 120 officers with ranks of lieutenant-general to brigadier-general, were also highly criticized in the 10th annual military ombudsman’s report.
Written by IDF Ombudsman, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yitzhak Brick it found, for a second year in a row, that the dismissal of thousands of career soldiers along with the shortening of service, “compromises the ability [of the IDF] to meet tasks.”
“It is impossible to hold the rope on both ends,” Brick wrote. “On the one hand, the tasks are increasing – and on the other there is extensive cross-cutting of manpower.”
The IDF denied that the shortening of service had detrimental effects, saying positions with the rank of captain and major in combat units are fully staffed, and that by the end of 2018 there will be a record number of officers in technological roles.