As of Monday, men who serve in the army as part of the national draft will be obligated to serve for 32 months down from 36 months.
The change, which has massive implications for the IDF’s manpower and training, was revealed to the press in a special presentation on Sunday.
Women who serve as part of the draft will continue to serve 24 months.
The IDF revealed that the shorter service will initially leave it 6,000 soldiers short of its general needs and, more crucially, 2,500 soldiers short of its combat needs.
In the IDF’s Manpower Division, there are a variety of initiatives, which themselves will change the face of the IDF in many ways, already in play to close the gap and ensure that the IDF is properly staffed, a top officer told the press.
A few hundred soldiers, with needed skills, will be offered extra money to serve longer than 32 months in special units.
Training for combat soldiers will be reduced from around eight months to around five to six months so that a larger portion of the soldiers’ service will involve the stage where they can fill imperative operational roles.
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There will be considerable debate about this change as anytime the IDF has had trouble in a conflict, such as the 2006 Lebanon War, part of the post-war criticism focused on cutbacks in training.
The IDF said it will work hard to make the cutbacks without impacting combat-readiness and that some of the training soldiers have been getting has not been combat related, but more related to special guard duty roles.
Possibly, the most significant change is that certain combat-support units, such as artillery, tanks, air defense, rescue and home-front security will accept soldiers with a much lower physical profile of only, 64.
A soldiers physical profile rating is one of the key factors determining his fate as a combat soldier or desk-job soldier, and within combat units, whether he can seek an elite unit.
This change could also provoke later criticism of whether soldiers in combat units were fit for their roles.
But the IDF said that the idea of the change is that some soldiers who have been sent into combat-support units, but with higher than 64 profiles, will be moved into pure combat units.
In that way, the infantry soldiers who engage in more up-close fighting will still maintain high profiles.
The above changes would also mean that the IDF would increase from three combat training rounds per year to four so that more combat soldiers could be trained each year on the faster track.
Another major change could be drafting more women into combat roles, a trend which the IDF views as having been successful in recent years.
The IDF even is pushing for Knesset legislation to lengthen women’s obligatory service time from 24 months to 28 months to help with the staffing issue and reduce the gap between men and women’s service time.
Further, the IDF said that over 2,000 Haredim are serving in the IDF, with increasing numbers in combat units, and that the IDF hopes to draft several hundred more Haredim over the next year, as another gap-filler.
In addition, IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt. Gen Gadi Eisenkot has set a goal of reducing IDF dropouts from 16% of soldiers, or around 4,800, to single-digit percentages.
Still, after all of these changes, the IDF estimates it will be somewhat undermanned until 2022.
With his draft date less than a month away, Haifa resident Roi Vinograd said he is pleased to be serving four months less than expected.
"It will make us into better soldiers in a shorter amount of time," Vinograd said. "More people will join the army because of the change."
Nir Ziv echoed Vinograd's sentiments.
"It's a relief," said Ziv, who is set to leave his home in Ra?anana for the army on Wednesday. "It's harsh to serve three years on the job, and everyone complains about it. But now it'll be a bit easier."
Dror Lebovitz, now 25, volunteered on a training base for a year and a half due to medical reasons. He said shortening the amount of service time by four months will not rattle the system.
"It doesn't make much of a difference," Lebovitz said. "It's not going to produce a drastic change."Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.
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