Navy turns to Whatsapp to speak to draftees

Conscripts may use messaging service to check their status, photograph and send in forms

November 26, 2015 02:55
1 minute read.

Icons of messaging applications WhatsApp of Facebook (L), Laiwang of Alibaba Group (C) and WeChat, or Weixin, of Tencent Group. (photo credit: REUTERS)

In its quest to stay up-to-date with the latest communications trends among its draftees, the Israel Navy has taken to the Whatsapp messaging service.

Cmdr. Michael Bekker, head of the navy’s Tracking and Drafting Department, told The Jerusalem Post that the decision to open a Whatsapp channel was taken “in the course of our attempt to find the best draftees for combat service at sea.”

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Today, high school students eligible for the draft, as well as those who have already begun the conscription process, can use Whatsapp in an unlimited manner to gain information on their status, follow up on questions, and send the navy their forms.

Instead of using old fashioned faxes, Bekker said, the navy has begun speaking the digital language of the new generation.

“We set up a new communications channel, which is available all day. Draftees can simply photograph their forms or ID [using their cellphone cameras], and send them to us. They can text us on Whatsapp to make sure we received it. It increases our availability, and is very convenient,” he said. “When we tell draftees that they can stay in touch with our representatives after phone contact, we can hear them smiling on the other end,” Bekker added.

The initiative began two and a half months ago, Bekker said, adding, “It has proven itself. This does not replace phone calls, but it makes communications far more intensive and increases availability.”

The navy is not the first in the IDF to use Whatsapp, but it is the first to do so in the context of its conscription program.

The IDF’s Personnel Directorate gave its blessing to the program, he added.

The next step, Bekker said, is to upgrade the navy’s Internet sites, making them available to cellular web surfing. “Teenagers are flooded with information and we have

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