IDF could lose $500m. from dollar drop

Top officer to 'Post': Funding loss could harm military readiness; says IDF waiting to convert shekels.

dollars bundle 224 88 (photo credit: Channel 10)
dollars bundle 224 88
(photo credit: Channel 10)
The IDF stands to lose $500 million from its budget in 2008 due to the drop in the value of the dollar and rising fuel prices, a top officer has told The Jerusalem Post, warning that the loss in funding could harm military readiness. The defense budget approved for this year totals NIS 48.3 billion, NIS 500 million more than in 2007. The budget is part of a multi-year plan and was formulated based on recommendations made by the Brodet Committee that calls for an addition of NIS 10b. to the budget over the next decade. According to the top officer, the IDF has postponed converting into shekels part of the military aid its receives from the US due to the fall in the dollar. According to a memorandum of understanding reached last year, Israel will receive $30b. in US military aid over the next decade and is allowed to convert 26 percent of the funds from dollars to shekels. The rest needs to be spent in the US. To remain within the budget's framework and not hurt the IDF's new training regimens, the Defense Ministry's Budget Department, led by Brig.-Gen. Meran Frouzanfar, has come up with several ideas for cutting back spending this year. One plan recently implemented by the army has changed the way non-combat soldiers go through basic training. Until now, non-combat soldiers were enlisted into the IDF and sent to bases for one month of basic training, following which they were sent to their units for advanced training. "Some of the classes in the courses repeated themselves and it was just a waste of money," the top officer said. "To save money the soldiers will now undergo basic training with the unit they are going to serve in, and this way they will not undergo unnecessary training that they do not require." Also, for the first time in military history, the IDF has employed a Build Operate Transfer (BOT) project financing system in which a private company has received the franchise to build the army's new training facility in the Negev - called Ir Habadim - and then lease it the IDF. "Until now we would issue a tender and then have to pay for everything up front," the officer said. "Under the BOT, we pay monthly rental fees over 30 years, so the core of the money stays with us."