It’s been almost two decades since the government decided to move the IDF intelligence headquarters from Tel Aviv to the South.The decision was part of a mass transfer of IDF units from the geographical and social center of the country to the Negev – a wide, mostly uninhabited desert – intended to strengthen the South and its residents, while making room for more housing in the center, where the prices have skyrocketed over the past 15 years.This national-scale project being promoted with an estimated NIS 25 billion budget would provide a big boost to residents of the South.Within the military, the plan is called “IDF Ascent to the Negev,” and includes moving “Ir HaBahadim” – the basic training bases “city” – which sits on an area of 106.5 hectares (263 acres) and houses more than 10,000 soldiers from the IDF’s School of Technology and Maintenance, C4I (the army’s Command, Control, Computers, Communications and Information Branch), Logistics Training School, Military Police, Military Medicine, School of Education and Youth and School of Human Resources.With the relocation, approximately 20,000 soldiers in the technology branch alone would serve in the South, and thousands more from other corps.But, as of now, the project to move the intelligence units has been stuck.One of the problems is an objection by some of the Aman – the Hebrew acronym for Military Intelligence – officers and soldiers, who see this move as a severe blow to their quality of life.Some of them complain about the distance – moving to the Negev would force them to commute to a distant army base, or to move somewhere outside the attractive Gush Dan area. Behind closed doors, according to various media reports, some of them have threatened to leave the army and use their skills in the private sector if such a move were to happen.These intelligence soldiers are also complaining about the lack of proper transportation to this new compound. It was reported that the government refused to commit to building a railway that will connect central Israel with the new intelligence base.Newly appointed Defense Minister Benny Gantz decided to take on this initiative and push the project ahead.On Monday, he went down to Lakiya, the venue of this base, in order to meet with local leaders and express his support for the move.“We are building a national project whose first goal is to strengthen military intelligence,” Gantz said, adding the infrastructure that will be at its disposal and its capabilities will make it “a strong and leading corps.”But there’s more in it than strengthening the intelligence units new and advanced facilities; there is a statement in moving military units – including from Aman – to the South.It means that our leaders see value in promoting the Negev.Carrying out this move brings with it thousands of work opportunities for the residents of Beersheba, Dimona and other communities in the area. Bringing jobs from the wealthy center to the deprived Negev is doing justice for people who were for years were neglected by the government.It also has a symbolic message: Israel is saying that it sees this area as important, no less than Gush Dan.Intelligence officers and soldiers are an important asset for Israeli society and their voice should be heard. The competition by the private sector should be answered with similar incentives by the IDF. IAF pilots receive superior conditions, and so should intelligence officers.But this move needs to happen. The advantages it creates erases any inconvenience of serving in the Negev.Above all are the words of Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion: “In the Negev shall be tested the people and the State of Israel.”Seeing the Negev as an integral part of the country is not only a technical issue, it is part of a vision. It can only help build this country in a place sorely in need of being built up.