Dan Harel .
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The defense establishment continued its intensive public campaign Wednesday and Thursday against the government- appointed Locker Commission’s report on future defense spending.
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Dan Harel, director-general of the Defense Ministry, described its recommendations as “very bad” and a “big miss.”
Similarly, a senior defense source voiced criticism of nearly every aspect of the report and the way in which it was drafted. According to the source, the Defense Ministry asked to meet with members of the commission 14 times in order to discuss key issues. These included an updated assessment of the security threats facing Israel, reference scenarios and operational plans to meet the coming challenges. Other meetings were planned to discuss personnel-related issues.
“The answer we got back is that there would be just four meetings,” the source said. “Out of 42 meetings held by the commission, just four were dedicated to us. After Operation Protective Edge, we asked to present the results [of lessons learned from the conflict]. I had to fight with [Commission head Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yohanan] Locker,” he added.
Finance Ministry representatives meet many times with the commission, he added.
“They did no work with us, and then claimed I did not pass information to them,” the source added. “We sent them 1,845 pages. We had no chance [of being heard] in the way the commission conducted itself. It’s as if we came to a court.”
The Defense Ministry received a copy of the report two weeks before its publication, but only after a prolonged struggle, the source said, by which time, no changes could be made.
The source said the Locker Report lacked even a single in-depth analysis.
“There are phrases [in the report] that are more similar to media sound bites,” he charged.
During a meeting with reporters at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, Harel, a former deputy IDF chief of staff, said: “We cooperated with the commission, and in the end were faced with a wall.”
Harel slammed a call by the commission to improve transparency in military salaries, saying that the Finance Ministry’s accountant-general has access to every IDF pay slip.
“They know how many people there are and what their salary consists of,” Harel said. “This is considered a lack of transparency.
How do they fix it? By passing on control [to someone else].”
The defense source also attacked the report’s recommendation that the IDF remove its representatives from district planning committees, based on a finding that it influences 40 percent of state land.
“They want to remove our representatives from the district committees. Did they say why? There is no explanation throughout the whole report,” he said.
Additionally, the committee’s call to limit the defense budget to NIS 59 billion without any additional supplements is out of tune with reality, he said. In 2015, the IDF had a defense budget of NIS 61b. (including supplements, and in 2014, the budget plus supplements totaled NIS 60b.).
“Let’s say I have NIS 59b. for the coming years. But who knows what will be in Syria next year? To say that this is all inclusive? Every change in the deployment on borders is within the budget, so how can training be kept constant [without budgetary supplements]?” Harel stated.
The senior defense source also attacked the report’s call to refrain from giving pensions to non-combatant career officers.