idf troops 298.88.
(photo credit: AP)
As one of the lessons of the war in Lebanon, the IDF plans to ask the Treasury for an immediate budget supplement of NIS 10 billion, most of which will be invested in rehabilitating the Intelligence Corps, a high-ranking defense official told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.
Defense officials and politicians have accused Military Intelligence of failing to predict the outbreak of violence. In addition, it is also blamed for failing to adequately penetrate the Hizbullah command, as could be demonstrated by the failure to assassinate any of the group's top leaders or destroy its main nerve centers.
"There will be a massive investment now in Military Intelligence," the official said.
The Defense Ministry is now negotiating with the Treasury over the size of the 2007 defense budget. The official said it was looking to create a five-year budget of NIS 36.5 billion annually - NIS 3b. more than in 2006. In addition, the defense establishment is asking for NIS 11b, which it says was the sum it spent on ammunition, fuel and payments to reservists during the war.
The ministry is also asking for an additional NIS 10b. as a budgetary supplement.
"The emergency warehouses were not sufficiently stocked, which means it is not enough to put us back exactly where we were right before the war," the official said. "We need more money than just what we spent so we can refill the warehouses and rebuild the various military branches."
A decision on the size of the 2007 budget and the supplements was expected by September 10, or at the latest when the Knesset was scheduled to vote on the annual budget, he said.
"While most of the country has understood that there is a need for a massive investment in the IDF, the Treasury is still stuck and unwilling to budge from its demand that the defense budget undergo further cuts," he said. "The Treasury has not internalized what needs to be done."
Since 2002, the defense budget has been decreased from NIS 39.5b. to NIS 33.54b. The defense establishment has undergone major reforms to continue functioning under the new budget, starting with the firing of 5,000 career servicemen to changes in their pensions and benefits, including a rise in the retirement age.
The war, he said, was a "wake-up call" for the country and showed the public and the government that the budget cuts over the years had created a military that was not ready to meet its challenges.
"They need to ask themselves what type of military they want to have," he said of the government and specifically the Treasury. "If they want the IDF to protect the country, then they need to allocate the necessary resources and funds."
The defense official said he was not concerned about being summoned to testify before an inquiry to investigate the IDF's level of preparedness and management of the war.
"For years we have warned that this would happen," he said. "Now that it has happened, it is time to fix things."