Gantz slams proposed defense budget cuts

Despite cutbacks, IDF appointing new attache to Canada; Gantz says he won't allow ridicule of officers who stand up against proposed cuts.

Gantz at Navy ceremony Haifa_311 (photo credit: IDF Spokesman's Office )
Gantz at Navy ceremony Haifa_311
(photo credit: IDF Spokesman's Office )
The IDF pushed back Monday against government plans to cut the defense budget.
Chief of General Staff Lt.- Gen. Benny Gantz said that he will not allow officers to be publicly criticized for standing up for their principles and opposing the cuts.
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“I will not allow commanders and soldiers who defend the country all year long to be publicly criticized,” Gantz said at a Navy ceremony in Haifa. “Fair treatment of the nation’s defenders is not a cynical issue. It is more important than a handful of shekels.”
Gantz’s comment came in response to criticism within the Treasury and government that the IDF was acting “spoiled” and needed to make dramatic cuts to the defense budget. On Sunday, the government approved the Trajtenberg Report, which includes a NIS 3 billion cut to the defense budget.
“We will need to conduct a complete review of the budget to decide where to cut from,” one senior officer said. “This could potentially impact training and procurement plans.”
The General Staff will work to complete the review within the coming weeks and then bring it for approval to Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
Several projects which the IDF plans to try and protect from budget cuts include the continued procurement and deployment of Iron Dome counter-rocket defense systems, the development of additional missile defense systems – Arrow 3 and David’s Sling – and the purchase of new F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.
Due to the budget cuts, the IDF has suspended implementation of its multi-year plan, Halamish, which was supposed to have gone into effect in August and spelled out the new development and procurement plans for the coming five years. The plan will be reviewed and modified according to the new budget constraints.
On Monday, defense officials slammed the Treasury and the government for approving the budget cut.
“The finance minister will not sit before the inquiry commission that will be set up to investigate the next war,” one official said. “It will be the IDF officers who are now trying to prevent the budget from being cut out of an understanding what the consequences will be.”
While the IDF claimed it could not cut its budget, government officials referred to a recent Defense Ministry decision to establish new defense delegations overseas as an opportunity to make budget cuts. Last month, the IDF Planning Directorate together with MOD Dir.- Gen. Udi Shani decided to appoint a military attache to serve in Canada and to establish an office of the SIBAT defense export agency in Mexico.
The decision to establish the office in Mexico is part of an effort to increase defense exports to Latin and South America.
Until now, the military attache in the United States – a role currently filled by Maj.-Gen. Gadi Shamni – has also been responsible for Canada. Officials said that Shamni has voiced opposition to the appointment of an attache to Canada which he views as undermining his current position.
“Why can’t the attache in Washington, DC, continue to oversee military relations with Canada which are relatively limited to begin with,” one official asked.
The Defense Ministry claims that the office in Mexico was established after a number of positions were canceled in other MOD delegations in Europe and as part of a national effort to increase defense exports to new markets.
IDF sources said that due to the planned budget cuts, the establishment of the offices in Mexico and Canada are now under review.