Report: 1/5 of reservists unprepared for military ops

Military data reveal problem particularly prevalent in armored, artillery and engineering units.

idf reservists 88 (photo credit: )
idf reservists 88
(photo credit: )
A fifth of all IDF reserve units are unprepared for military operations and are in need of fundamental training, according to data collected by the IDF Ground Forces Command and published Wednesday in Yediot Aharonot. The research revealed that 15 to 20 percent of reserve battalions have insufficient knowledge of the elementary military exercises taught to newly-established units. According to the report, the problem was particularly prevalent in armored, artillery and engineering units. While a committee on reserve units' performance in the Second Lebanon War, headed by OC Logistics Directorate Maj.-Gen. Avi Mizrahi, recommended that reservists undergo at least 10 days of training a year, this year - due to various constraints - reservists will receive only five. This, despite the fact that only recently, the budget for reservists was increased by 35.7 percent, from NIS 920 million in 2006 to NIS 1.25 billion in 2007. S., 34, an infantry reservist, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that he and his comrades were called up last summer, after five years without serious training. "Our unit's senior staff always...keeps training, but the soldiers haven't been to serious training for five years, and the staff usually train with a low supply of ammunition," said S., whose entire unit is to be trained next month for the first time in five years. S.'s commander, R., said his unit was relatively in good shape compared to some. "The problem is how decisions are made... and do the people in the field have the tools to follow their orders. It's one thing to send combatants on a mission, but it's another thing to make sure they have enough equipment, food supply, transportation and so on." Nitzan Peles, a reserve paratrooper and head of the Reserve Soldiers Forum at the Technion, said the problem was that his unit keeps replacing IDF regular units on their missions, "instead of getting ready for worse scenarios, like war." Ale Minkanowski of the Hapashim (simple soldiers) Forum said that the Defense Ministry's proposal for a reserve duty law neglected to define required levels of fitness, minimum numbers of training days, and equipment necessary for the various units. "The proposal does not answer reserve soldiers' needs; it perpetuates the exploitation of those who serve and protect their country, it breaks down the values upon which reserve units are recruited," said Minkanowski. The Defense Ministry said in response: "Defense Minister [Amir Peretz] was the one to order a workplan for 2007 to improve reserve units' fitness. This approved workplan includes training for ground forces, the air force, and navy on a scale that the IDF hasn't seen in many years. "The defense minister also ordered the establishment of a fitness code that will determine how many hours of specific training are required to bring a unit up to par," the statement continued. According to the Defense Ministry, reserve combatants were being called up and trained, in addition to regular combat soldiers.