The IDF must find a way to deal with an NIS 20 billion shortfall in the coming
years, Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz said on Monday.
“In the 12
years that I have been at the General Staff, I don’t recall a time like this,”
Gantz said, adding that the military has a team of some 250 people working on
finding ways to save money.
“We are facing very serious gaps in the
budget, gaps of some NIS 20b. We must reexamine all of the projects we are
invested in,” Gantz said. “In light of the need to cut state expenditures, and
considerations of our strategic threats, the IDF must take very large steps to
save NIS 6b.-NIS 8b.”
Gantz, whose comments came in a speech at a
conference held by the national manufacturers association in Tel Aviv, said that
the instability in the region presents an opportunity to implement the changes,
because with the rest of the region sidelined by internal struggles there is
little chance Israel will find itself facing a conventional war in the coming
“When I look at our future directions I understand that we
must take great steps and take advantage of this period of time when the risk of
an attack is not likely,” Gantz said, adding that the IDF “will try to deal as
well as we can with the resource challenges facing us. We live in a challenging
environment and every day can end entirely differently than it
Gantz also related to two incidents from last week in which
haredi soldiers were attacked in haredi neighborhoods, saying “It’s a paradox
that a soldier must leave his house and be prepared to be attacked,” adding that
“this thuggery has no place in progressive society and must be
Gantz’s comments on Monday were his first about the expected
budget cuts that the IDF first announced last week.
Under the cuts, over
the next five years the IDF will fire 3,000 to 5,000 career soldiers, and
downsize or close flight squadrons, armored and artillery units, and naval
deployments. The cuts, which still need to be approved by the cabinet, are
expected to save NIS 6b.-NIS 7b, according to IDF calculations.
Thursday, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon (Likud) put a positive spin on the
cuts, saying they will help the army deal with the changing nature of the
threats facing Israel.
“We are not enslaved to technology – we are using
it and adapting it to the new reality, whereas the army vs army conflicts that
we last saw 40 years ago in the Yom Kippur War are becoming less and less
Ya’alon’s speech emphasized the push for hi-tech,
sophisticated weaponry, saying that “the foreseeable future stands to lead us to
battles which will be determined by superior IDF technology, in the air, land
and sea, with less heavy tools and through more and increasing use of
sophisticated and unmanned technology which give us a significant advantage over
He also said the IDF will continue to work to preserve its
technological advantages in the region, largely by focusing on the “building
blocks” of this approach: precision ammunition, cyber defense, communication,
“We stand before a revolutionary multi-year plan, and
within a few years we will see a different IDF,” the defense minister said.