IDF to discharge 100,000 reservists, slash officer corps

Move aims to streamline military bureaucracy, improve combat-readiness of reserve troops, chief of staff says

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative photo of an IDF reserve-duty soldier in the Negev Desert in southern Israel (Matanya Tausig/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of an IDF reserve-duty soldier in the Negev Desert in southern Israel (Matanya Tausig/Flash90)

The IDF will discharge some 100,000 reservist soldiers who have not been called up for duty for several years, Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said Tuesday.

Eisenkot told a meeting of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the cutback aimed to reduce the military bureaucracy needed to maintain the Israel Defense Forces’ reserve force, the Hebrew-language Haaretz website reported.

In addition, the chief of staff said that the IDF was in the midst of slashing the number of its commissioned personnel and will eventually terminate the service of some 5,000 officers, including three major generals and other senior officers.

Another change planned for the coming six months aims to scale back reservist field operations in favor of intensive combat training.

Eisenkot noted that current IDF reserves are already undergoing an unprecedentedly intensive training period.

Gadi Eisenkot is to be named as the next IDF chief of staff. (Photo credit: Flash 90)
Gadi Eisenkot (Photo credit: Flash 90)

After completing their compulsory three years of service in the army, Israeli men — and some women — are usually required to serve up to one month of reserve duty per year, until their mid-40s.

A state comptroller report in December 2014 found that the reserves — who constitute the bulk of ground forces — are under-trained and may not be able to fulfill wartime missions.

Israel has a relatively small standing army, which operates with the understanding that in wartime the government will muster the reserves to bolster the fighting force. This has been the case in each of Israel’s wars, including last summer’s conflict in the Gaza Strip.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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