Eisenkot adopts plan for wide-spread military cuts

Decision would leave the IDF with the fewest number of career soldiers and officers in many years.

Soldiers with the IDF's Nahal reconnaissance battalion participate in drills (photo credit: IDF)
Soldiers with the IDF's Nahal reconnaissance battalion participate in drills
(photo credit: IDF)
The military is set to soon institute a wide range of cuts, and will seek cabinet approval for additional reductions, a senior army source said on Tuesday.
Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot decided in recent days to adopt recommendations that the General Staff made on the basis of the IDF’s Gideon multiyear program. Gideon will shape the army, if it receives funding, for the next five to six years.
“We are prepared to focus the military with an emphasis on readiness and multi-branch [engagements],” the senior source said.
The General Staff decided to reduce the number of career soldiers to 40,000, to fire career soldiers and officers from the Home Front Command, and to spend the money saved on readiness and training.
The decision would leave the IDF with the fewest number of career soldiers and officers in many years.
Other decisions include cutting the number of personnel at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv, and to institute streamlining reforms in the way officers run bases.
Cuts will also be made to Behavioral Science, Military Censor and Military Rabbinate units. Drivers during non-war time will come only from conscripted ranks, and the number of Beduin trackers will be reduced by 25 percent.
Cuts will be made to the Southern Command’s Eilat territorial brigade.
The military will eliminate 9 percent of the General Staff’s personnel, enabling it to channel soldiers to enhance “IDF readiness,” while increasing training for the ground forces, and transitioning the army to a new training program that will be wider in scope.
The 162nd Armored Division (the “Steel Formation”), which is currently under Central Command, will move to Southern Command, and it will take the Givati infantry brigade with it, resulting in a situation where every territorial command has its own conscripted division.
Givati was the last remaining infantry brigade that lacked its own “home division.”
The recently established Commando Brigade will be placed under Central Command, and will begin its training program in the coming weeks. The IDF will develop a new cyber branch, and will create a new coed battalion for routine security missions.
Military entities that are currently at the central headquarters will move to the Logistics Branch or to the Ground Forces Command.
Bodies that are in the Technological Branch will merge with the Ground Forces commander’s office, streamlining management of surface army vehicles and reducing superfluous bureaucracy, the senior army source said.
The Technological Branch will remain under the direct command of the chief of staff, and will have its own headquarters.
“The aim is to centralize the Ground Forces” Command and make the maintenance of its large fleets of vehicles more efficient, the source added.
A new career officer model will mean that fewer people will receive military pensions, as more will retire at age 35 and will receive one-time grants, before heading out to find civilian work in the private or public sectors. Those who pass the age of 35 will continue until full military retirement and will receive military pensions.
“We don’t think a military needs a media outlet, we are examining the possibility of moving ownership of Army Radio,” said the source.
The IDF will seek government approval for the plan in the coming days, which might also include cuts to a territorial brigade in the Northern Command.
“The goal is to return the military to training and readiness,” the senior source said.