OC Manpower Maj.-Gen. Elazar Stern stepped up efforts to limit the number of non-haredi soldiers in the Nahal Haredi Battalion, resulting in a fall in the number of total recruits despite a gradual rise in haredi recruits. Since January Stern instituted two major changes in the recruiting of haredi soldiers. He cut non-haredi recruits from 50% of the total to no more than 30% and halted integration of hesder soldiers in the haredi battalion. As a result, the latest recruitment drew just 80 soldiers instead of the 120 average. There are approximately 650 Nahal Haredi soldiers in active military service at any given time. Until now only half of these soldiers came from haredi backgrounds. The other half were either soldiers with Religious Zionist backgrounds who joined Nahal Haredi for a more religious environment (comprising the majority) or hesder soldiers who requested to serve together with the Nahal Haredi (some ten to twenty percent). In a letter Stern expressed his total support for the Nahal Haredi unit, but insisted on protecting the battalion's special character as a solution for haredi yeshiva dropouts. "The IDF views the service of haredim in its ranks as important, and is making increased efforts to facilitate and increase such service. "Commencing with the November 2005 draft, the IDF has begun recruitment to the battalion on the basis of the new policy. We are prepared for the possibility of a slight drop in enlistment numbers in the short term, but this should lead to stability, in terms of the battalion fulfilling its original purpose. There is no risk to the coming intake, nor to those that are to follow. "We would point out that, in any event, both the number of haredi soldiers within the unit and the number of recruitment intakes have shown continuous growth."