The IDF intends to implement wide-reaching budget cuts over the coming five years that will save billions of shekels, according to a multi-year plan published on Wednesday.

The plan, which would need to be approved by the cabinet, includes firing 3,000 to 5,000 career soldiers, and downsizing and closing air force squadrons, armored and artillery units, and naval deployments.

The IDF, which referred to the cuts as unprecedented, believes they could save around NIS 7 billion over the five years.

The plan includes shifting the make-up of IDF divisions to make them more flexible, a move that will include reducing the number of operational air force squadrons.

The army says the changes will provide greater flexibility to maneuver divisions, while regional divisions (such as the Gaza, Galilee and Golan divisions) will be shifted around and go through operational changes. The regular army Division 36, largely deployed on the Golan, will become one of five multi-theater divisions.

The IDF will also shift a division to the Golan Heights, but a source in the military said the shift would not entail permanently stationing it on the Golan, rather that the division would work “organically” with the ability to deploy to the Heights if needed.

Last month, the IDF canceled all reserve operational duty for the remainder of the year due to a cut in the defense budget for 2013 and 2014.

The government decided  in May, to cut the defense budget by NIS 3 billion in 2014, and by NIS 1.5b. this year, as part of a wider attempt to deal with a NIS 40b. deficit.  

Yaakov Lappin and Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.

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