Army to cut back on reserves call ups
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Army to cut back on reserves call ups

Training to bear the brunt of NIS 3 billion slash to budget; stop with the scare tactics, says Labor MK

Aaron Kalman is a former writer and breaking news editor for the Times of Israel

Illustrative photo of Israel Defense Forces reserve soldiers taking part in a surprise drill on an army base in northern Israel, April 2013. (photo credit: Shay Wagner/Israel Army Spokesman via Flash 90)
Illustrative photo of Israel Defense Forces reserve soldiers taking part in a surprise drill on an army base in northern Israel, April 2013. (photo credit: Shay Wagner/Israel Army Spokesman via Flash 90)

The IDF is planning to drastically cut back on training and active deployment of reserve soldiers in an effort to make up for a looming NIS 3 billion budget cut.

The funds are to be slashed from the defense budget as part of cross-the-board austerity measures, forcing the army to take immediate steps to limit planned spending.

One of the simplest available actions is to reduce the use of reserve soldiers in active duty, relying instead on regular units, and to cut back on training for both.

Military sources told Yisrael Hayom that the result of cuts to training could be disastrous, warning the army could end up untrained — similar to the way it was in 2006, when the Second Lebanon War broke out.

The IDF is also warning that budget cuts would stall the development of “Magic Wand,” an anti-long range missile platform currently in advanced research stages, and reduce the purchases of Iron Dome batteries.

“We’re not sure the prime minister and ministers are aware of how bad the damage resulting from their decisions really is,” an unnamed military source told Haaretz. “When the ministers understand the magnitude of the damage, they might also wake up.”

Other sources told Yedioth Ahronoth there would be no other choice and the army would be forced to ask for additional funds as early as 2014.

“All of Israel’s national security problems are well known. The threats are also known,” veteran legislator Eitan Cabel (Labor Party) said, dismissing the warnings and suggesting that the cutbacks posed an opportunity for a thorough reorganization of the security establishment.

“This is an opportunity to build a smart army that knows how to deal with all the new challenges it faces,” Cabel told Yedioth. “It’s unthinkable that whenever talk of budget cuts arise, the army starts with scare tactics.”

An official statement said the IDF was examining different options to cut back expenses and would present the findings to the Government. The reserve force is the backbone of the IDF, and it “views maintaining their abilities a top priority,” the statement added.

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz was set to report to the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday on the army’s plans for coping with the cuts to funding.

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