Generals get a makeover with new dress uniforms
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Generals get a makeover with new dress uniforms

High-ranking officers to wear ceremonial duds at national ceremonies, not just while abroad

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Deputy IDF Chief of Staff Yair Golan arrives at a farewell ceremony for former defense minister Moshe Ya'alon at army headquarters in Tel Aviv on May 22, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Deputy IDF Chief of Staff Yair Golan arrives at a farewell ceremony for former defense minister Moshe Ya'alon at army headquarters in Tel Aviv on May 22, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Eagle-eyed watchers of Israel’s national ceremonies may have noticed a slight change over the past month: IDF generals have started to look… stylish?

Under IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, high-ranking officers will now don formal dress uniforms, which were previously worn only in ceremonies outside of the country.

“During commemorative events such as memorial ceremonies many armies throughout the world require senior officials to wear dress uniforms,” the IDF told The Times of Israel about the change.

“This year, it was decided that every senior officer from the rank of brigadier general and above will wear dress uniforms at official national events,” the army said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L), Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (2L), former defense minister Moshe Ya'alon (2R) and IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot laugh during a ceremony for outstanding soldiers as part of Israel's 68th Independence Day celebrations, at the President's residence in Jerusalem on May 12, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L), Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (2L), former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon (2R) and IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot laugh during a ceremony for outstanding soldiers as part of Israel’s 68th Independence Day celebrations, at the President’s residence in Jerusalem on May 12, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

These formal duds have already been worn by generals at this year’s national Holocaust Remembrance Day, Memorial Day and Independence Day ceremonies, as well as during the official send-off for former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon earlier this week.

They will presumably make their next appearance sometime this upcoming week, during the welcoming ceremony for presumptive defense minister Avigdor Liberman.

Deputy IDF Chief of Staff Yair Golan lays a wreath at a memorial during a ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum as Israel marks the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day, May 5, 2016. (Olivier Fitoussi/Pool)
Deputy IDF Chief of Staff Yair Golan lays a wreath at a memorial during a ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum as Israel marks the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day, May 5, 2016. (Olivier Fitoussi/Pool)

“The goal of this decision was to honor the fallen and to respect the status of these national events where senior IDF officers participate,” the army said.

The ceremonial uniforms, known in Hebrew as Madei Srad, consist of a suit, white shirt and tie. They come in three different styles for IDF’s three branches — ground forces, air force and navy.

Generals from the ground forces wear a dark green single-breasted, three-button suit with a matching tie. Senior air force officers wear a dark blue suit of the same style. Naval officers, however, wear a double-breasted six-button suit, with yellow ranks on their sleeves.

Israel Navy commander Ram Rothberg salutes the incoming crew of the INS Rahav, Israel's newest submarine, before it sets off from the German port of Kiel towards Haifa, where it is set to arrive next month, on December 17, 2015. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
Israel Navy commander Ram Rothberg salutes the incoming crew of the INS Rahav, Israel’s newest submarine, before it sets off from the German port of Kiel towards Haifa, where it is set to arrive next month, on December 17, 2015. (IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

IDF uniforms for enlisted soldiers come in two main styles — rayon dress uniforms, known in Hebrew as Madei Aleph, and cotton work uniforms, known as Madei Bet. Soldiers in the navy also have a separate all-white uniform for certain ceremonies.

The 109th submariner's course graduation ceremony, on May 24, 2016. (Ron Hirsh/IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
The 109th submariner’s course graduation ceremony, on May 24, 2016. (Ron Hirsh/IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

Some specific units also have their own dedicated uniforms. Pilots have customized flight suits, air force mechanics and soldiers in tank brigades have special jumpsuits and soldiers serving in some northern units have a full-body coverall, known as a Hermonit after the mountain in the Golan Heights.

Israeli soldiers clean the barrel of a tank cannon at a deployment area near the border with the Gaza Strip on August 2, 2014. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israeli soldiers clean the barrel of a tank cannon at a deployment area near the border with the Gaza Strip on August 2, 2014. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Officers ranked captain and above, along with non-commissioned officers ranked sergeant first class and higher, have a different type of dress uniform, with dark slacks (or skirts for religious women) and a light-colored shirt, which was introduced in the summer of 2001.

Up until this year, during official ceremonies inside Israel, IDF generals would wear these uniforms, often looking decidedly frumpy and non-uniform, with shirts coming untucked and pants belted above or below their waists.

Future IDF chief of staff Haim Laskov inspects new recruits to the burgeoning Israeli army in 1949. (Israel Archive)

These dress uniforms are designed to put IDF generals on par with their counterparts from other militaries.

But while the few dozen brigadier, major and lieutenant generals in the IDF will likely appreciate that, as soaring temperatures approach, your average soldier would probably rather go back to the early days of the IDF when there were still summer uniforms, with short cotton pants and a short-sleeved shirt.

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