Bennett okays IDF’s multi-year plan, but funding unclear
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Bennett okays IDF’s multi-year plan, but funding unclear

Defense minister says Momentum Plan will make military ‘more flexible, intelligent and lethal,’ though he declines to comment on how he’ll pay for it

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

Soldiers from the Israel Defense Forces' new Faran Brigade, which will defend the Egyptian-Israeli border, take part in a training exercise in southern Israel in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)
Soldiers from the Israel Defense Forces' new Faran Brigade, which will defend the Egyptian-Israeli border, take part in a training exercise in southern Israel in November 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday approved the military’s latest multi-year Momentum Plan, paving the way for its acceptance by the security cabinet, despite significant budgetary uncertainties.

The multi-year plan, known in Hebrew as Tenufa, will serve as the general framework under which the Israel Defense Forces builds up its arsenals and trains its troops in order to confront the threats it expects to face in the coming years.

The guiding principle for the plan, which was developed under IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi, is that a future war must be won as quickly as possible, requiring the military to be able to constantly have at the ready a concrete list of targets, the weapons and equipment needed to strike them, and the ability to do so rapidly.

“The multi-year Momentum Plan will make an IDF that is more flexible, intelligent and lethal,” Bennett said in a statement.

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett (R) meets with IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi on November 13, 2019. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

“The plan takes advantage of the strengths of the State of Israel and its powers, while looking realistically at the challenges and dangers [it faces], chief among them the Iranian threat,” he said.

The Momentum Plan will require a significant increase to the defense budget, something the interim government has not been able to approve. Bennett’s backing did not include the budgetary approvals needed to implement the plan, but rather an acceptance of the plan’s underlying principles, his office confirmed to The Times of Israel.

Bennett said in a statement that the Momentum Plan would soon be brought before the security cabinet for official approval.

“Following the approval of the defense minister, the plan will be brought for approval before the security cabinet’s next meeting, and it will later be presented to the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee,” his office said.

The roll-out of the Momentum Plan, which went into effect at the beginning of this year, has been stalled somewhat, due largely to the lack of a fully functioning government to pass a new defense budget.

In the meantime, the IDF is relying on three sources of funding: the continuing budget from last year, internal reorganizations and funding changes, as well as military aid provided by the United States as part of a Memorandum of Understanding signed by then-US president Barack Obama in 2016, which grants approximately $3.8 billion to the IDF each year until 2028, IDF Spokesperson Hidai Zilberman told reporters last week.

The proposed Momentum Plan will see huge investments in developing the IDF’s arsenals, including increasing its collection of mid-sized drones, obtaining large numbers of precision-guided missiles from the US and purchasing additional air defense batteries.

The military will also focus its training exercises more heavily toward urban combat, as it believes that its soldiers are more likely to fight in cities and towns than in the open fields where many drills are currently held.

The plan formally went into effect on January 1, 2020, and is meant to guide the IDF for the next five years. It will succeed the streamlining and cost-cutting Gideon Plan, which was developed by Kohavi’s predecessor Lt. Gen. (res.) Gadi Eisenkot.

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