IDF online portal attracts int'l interest [pg. 5]

Interested in finding out about the latest sale at the base canteen or writing your commander about Maccabi Tel Aviv's loss in Tuesday night's soccer match? If you are a soldier in the C4I Communications Directorate then you can enter a newly developed web portal that has become a source of jealousy for other IDF branches. Established over the past year by Col. Dudu Geva, commander of the C4I Directorate's military school called Bad 7, the portal allows communication officers stationed across the country to log in, ask their commanders technical questions and receive immediate answers. The portal is accessible to anyone with access to the IDF intranet web server, called Zahalnet. "The portal allows C4I officers to log in and receive updates," a senior C4I officer told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. "The portal brings the directorate to every place in the IDF and anyone with access to the army's internal server." The portal also contains classified information regarding the progress of soldiers currently studying at Bad 7. "Commanders can go into their soldiers' personal files and check to see how they are doing on their tests and what subjects the soldiers are weak in," the officer explained. The site has not only become a model for other branches in the IDF but also for foreign armies whose representatives frequently visit Bad 7 to learn about the C4I Directorate as well as the innovative Web site. The US Marines, the officer said, was currently developing a web portal similar to the one available to C4I officers. "Many countries come to learn from the C4I," the officer said. "The understanding is that we have the ability to do things with a lot less means." Instead of generating tons of paperwork, the military school uses the portal, the officer said, to pass on messages between commanders and their subordinates. The portal also has several forums that allow officers to leave questions for top C4I officers on issues ranging from technical to personal problems. Geva, a die-hard Maccabi Tel Aviv fan, has also set up a forum to discuss the Israeli soccer scene with his fellow officers. But alongside C4I's innovative developments, the directorate has been encountering difficulty in convincing officers to sign on for continued service as career officers once they complete their mandatory service. Attractive offers from hi-tech companies and IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz's plans to move the Tsrifin base, including Bad 7, to the South have deterred many young captains and majors from extending their military service. One young commander, the officer said, recently left the army for a job in a hi-tech firm where he received a car, cell phone and was getting paid four-times more than in the IDF. "This is a serious problem," the officer admitted. "On the one hand it makes me happy to see that Israel is no longer known for exporting oranges but for exporting hi-tech. But on the other hand this is not necessarily good for the army."