40,000 students take part in IDF’s 'Day of Discovery'

Figures show new recruits less motivated to serve in combat positions.

IDF's 'Day of Discovery' in Israel's Golan Heights. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
IDF's 'Day of Discovery' in Israel's Golan Heights.
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
The IDF is making an extra effort to interest Israeli youth in combat roles as a decline in motivation to serve continues.
The “IDF’s Day of Discovery” was repeated during the last two weeks of October and brought some 40,000 students up to the Golan Heights from the Center and North of the country. It was organized by the military along with the Education and Defense ministries to inform the soon-to-be soldiers about combat positions in the military.
“The Golan Heights is the right location to tie the teenagers to significant wars in Israel’s past,” Maj. Sivan Ilan Dadush, the head of the IDF Recruitment Department, told The Jerusalem Post in an interview last week. “And then we show them what is happening right now to give them all the information.”
After stopping in several key locations to learn about those past wars, the students were brought to stations where they able to interact with combat soldiers.
“We are showing them all the options available and giving them the opportunity to touch everything with their own hands,” Dadush told the Post.
The goal was “to see everything in real life, not on television or in the movies,” she said. For example, “At one station is a tent about [the] Golani [infantry brigade] and in that tent is a current Golani soldier, weapons used by Golani soldiers, vehicles used by Golani.”
According to Dadush, the soon-to-be soldiers were also offered the chance to sign a request to have the army remain in contact with them during the period leading up to their enlistment.
The project comes as IDF figures point to a decline in the motivation of recruits to serve in combat roles, even as there has been a significant rise in the numbers of female recruits asking to be evaluated for combat service.
The most popular units for female combat soldiers are the Home Front Command and the Border Police. Many also join the Artillery Corps, infantry coed battalions and combat- intelligence units.
During the day, female recruits are able to interact with soldiers from the coed battalions, such as Caracal, artillery and combat-intelligence units.
The young women are also informed of their option to serve as instructors in various combat units.
When asked if the female draftees who took part in the day were likely to sign up for combat roles, Dadush said there was no way to tell. Even if they showed interest in a combat unit, she said, it is impossible to say if they will actually sign up for combat roles when they enlist.
Only 67% of male recruits asked to enlist to combat positions this past July, down from 71% in March 2017, and from 74% in November 2016.
While the decline is small, the army believes the numbers will continue to go down as recruits choose to serve closer to home in Border Police, cyberdefense or other technological positions.
The Armored Corps has in recent years become one of the least popular units for recruits.
Is is said to have the worst service conditions and to give fewer weekends off than other corps. The IDF also showed off tanks to the students during the Day of Discovery.
Last November, 86 out of 200 soldiers who were assigned to the Armored Corps refused to board the buses to their bases after induction. Half were sent to the detention facility at the induction center and the other half were sent to various military prisons after receiving jail terms for refusing to obey orders that ranged from four to 20 days.
Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot has acknowledged that the IDF is well aware of the decrease in motivation to serve in combat units. In September, he said the army was working to alter the trend.
Starting on November 1, the salary of combat soldiers was increased by NIS 400 to NIS 2,000 per month. The army is also set to significantly improve all combat bases, and every combat soldier will receive benefit cards, new equipment and funds toward obtaining a bachelor’s degree.