After 70 years, the time has come to examine whether the IDF is still fulfilling its historic purpose, and whether that purpose is still relevant these days.
Forever People's Army? // Photo: Tzachi Miriam
We are currently marking 70 years since the establishment of the Israel Defense Forces, at the height of the War of Independence. From its inception, the IDF was defined as the "People's Army," which is because of the need for a great deal of forces in the face of the threats, and the need for its existence as an institution that connects and produces solidarity to a people whose vast majority are multicultural. To maintain its uniqueness and destiny as Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion then requested.
The term "people's army" is not an Israeli invention. The idea that a company relies on an army as a national social welfare mechanism in many countries in the past. The establishment of the IDF as such by the Israeli government in the midst of the liberation battles was also due to security and social needs. The idea of making the IDF a social "crucible", in view of the many postcards, on the side of existential threats, necessitated a grassroots army based On duty duty side reserve service. The general idea was that the army of duty would provide a regular response in defense of borders and a preliminary response in the war, and would form the basis for the reserve army which would be the major force for deciding.
Looking at today's IDF asks questions about the two reasons why it is the army of the people - security and social need - are these needs relevant to this kind of army? This is in light of the reality that the percentage of recruits is diminishing, and the security reality has apparently changed as well. Now, it is a professional army based on volunteer service, similar to the models in which Western countries went.
Examining which army is better suited to Israel is complex and requires a multidisciplinary look, but in this short article I will present the two key elements that are said to be the security contribution on the social donation side, based on research I have conducted over the last 7 years on the IDF, in context The motivation for mobilization of the reserve, and in the context of the contribution of the service of duty to social solidarity in a democratic state.
In the security context, there is no doubt that Israel's situation is different than it used to be, but this is only apparent. We are currently at peace with our two neighbors with whom we share hundreds of miles of borders - Egypt and Jordan. It is worth noting that Egypt has been the greatest threat to Israel in the past. The reality of the peace on the common border allowed the IDF to shrink and saved a huge amount of budget money for the State of Israel.
However, this paradigm of the stability of the peace agreements is worthy of consideration. Allegedly facing a wide northern front and a secondary southern front in Gaza, the IDF can be infinitely smaller than it was in the past. However, it begs to question the level of stability of the peace agreements, and in a while, given a strategic change, we may find ourselves in a confrontation that will require a great deal of force for several arenas. .
The answer can be obtained relatively easily - precisely the last few years show us the fragility of peace agreements. It is worth remembering that at the beginning of the last decade Mubarak's regime collapsed, and under him the Muslim Brotherhood's rule in Egypt rose. The strategic situation worsened in a matter of months, and only A-Sisi's coup restored stability to Egypt's border. Realities on the southern border, then, can change very quickly.
And for Jordan - it is worth remembering what is developing east of us. Iran is gaining power, ISIS has threatened to overthrow the kingdom, and the entire space of the Fertile Crescent is clearly unstable.
The "relaxation" at the borders compared to the 1950s, then, can change quickly. This situation does not allow risk. It requires the IDF to be able to expand and shrink according to changes resulting from instability. This format, in short, certainly warrants an obliging army for ongoing security and defense, and a reserve army for responding during major deterioration. And we have not said a word about the Judea and Samaria scene, which is unknown.
And with regard to the social effectiveness of the "People's Army" in today's Israel - a quick glance at the fact that Israeli society gives a crushing answer - the IDF may be the only institution that remains state-owned. It is the only non-sectoral institution, and the only place that brings everyone into action under the context. My overall mission, social and national, this aspect, in the face of social reality, is dramatic in its importance, even today.
However, the question of the IDF's statehood and its being in a much-challenged consensus in recent years in the face of allegations of religion on the one hand, has left the General Staff on the other hand, not to say "leftist." Some argue that the IDF has become a source of controversy, and within it the friction creates a social conflict That reduces the positions of those who serve him.
However, an examination that I have conducted in a longitudinal study in recent years on the social attitudes of service graduates indicates that precisely those who terminate a less extreme duty in their attitudes towards many controversial aspects of Israeli society: issues of freedom of expression and journalism, through openness towards other cultures (including Arabs), and a combination of Women in combat roles. Servants from among minorities also feel that the IDF is an effective mechanism for social integration. Service in the IDF, therefore, is still close today, and does not go far, I argue. And by the way, those who really know and understand the organization should not be surprised.
Within all of these positive aspects, which show that the IDF fulfills its vision as a security and social system, there are two disturbing trends that erode its effectiveness over time, both as a military and social aspects.
The cuts made in recent years have seriously damaged the reserve system. It's no secret. The reserve army is a mainstay of the IDF's decision-making power and its social impact. It is tremendous. Looking at the reserve personnel as a budgetary burden is narrow and unwise. In my understanding, the size of the reserves in the reserve army is a significant injury - the strength of the IDF, and social cohesion no less.
The second issue is the army of duty - we have seen that in recent years the motivation to recruit in "branded" units is much higher in the "core" units in the dry army. The concepts of "cruiser or paperwork," "8200," and more, have been far more significant than service in the Golani Armored Battalion or Battalion, and those who are skeptical of my claim are welcome to roam the high school corridors.
That matter didn't go unnoticed - someone was probably a little confused. The IDF's core units are not the cruisers, nor are the elite units - the naval commando, kingfisher or chief of staff. There are no wars to be won. I do not underestimate these units - their contribution is important, but service to the "conventional" field units, habits, armor, engineering and artillery - is the most significant service, both in its security and social implications. Only in such a battalion will you find a diverse mix of sectors and cultures, and only these battalions are engaged 24/7 in defense of borders. The IDF should invest much more in the quality of the fighters there, and with the youth's commitment to service in these units.
To sum up, the IDF serves as its people's army. The security and social situation justifies its continuity as such, but the laurels - the work still needs to be rested. And for the argument about moving to a professional army - in light of everything presented here, we should understand that this alternative is irrelevant. The foreseeable future - it does not give the flexibility to the changing need for regional instability, as well as its far greater costs than it seems.
Those who think that a professional army "provides the goods" are invited to wonder what the Western armies look like today, how connected they are to society, how they are affected in solidarity contexts, how flexible they are to changing needs, what quality of manpower they serve, and what the cost of such an army is. In all these parameters you will find an overwhelming answer, not to mention simple apostolic appeals from defense architects in those countries.
The writer is a former Armor Brigade commander, now a military and company relations researcher, author of The Man in the Tank.