Despite the severe manpower crisis in the IDF, and a shortage of hundreds of officers with the ranks of captain and major, the IDF has been firing dozens of majors in recent months as part of a move that has been dubbed "reduction of regular forces," or in its military acronym - the IDF.
Some of those dismissed are on the budgetary pension track, that is, around the age of 39-plus, after serving in the army for about two decades, during which they were not given any pension. Beyond the personal injury in particular, those who are already debating whether to remain in the army and see their colleagues dismissed without pensions, contrary to what they have been told for years, have another reason to leave the service, a move that also harms the IDF's readiness and readiness for the next war.
The reservists' demonstration against the cancellation of the reasonableness grounds near the home of Justice Minister Yariv Levin // Photo: Jonathan Zindel/Flash90
As we revealed a few months ago in Israel Hayom, the IDF is suffering from a severe manpower crisis and a mass exodus of officers with the ranks of major and captain. In 2022, 613 officers with the rank of major voluntarily retired from the IDF – a 70% increase compared to two years earlier, and all this before we add into the equation the events of the past year, the protests in the reserve army and the very serious fear in the IDF about the continuation of this trend.
The dismissal of those serving stems from, among other things, the fact that the IDF did not properly prepare for the 2016 permanent model, and as a result exceeded the retirement quotas. The dismissed claim that their dismissal was done unjustly, with very short notice in relation to younger servants who were dismissed, with reduced compensation, and from their point of view this is a "basic surprise" since throughout their service, and also in the recent period before they were fired, they received "explicit messages from the system that we will continue in service until retirement, and the possibility of discharge for non-functional reasons was not reflected to us throughout our service."
The IDF claims that the dismissals on the grounds of "reducing regular forces" concern only a few dozen officers, but documents provided by the army itself indicate that the numbers are higher, since in 2022 and 2021 alone, more than 140 officers were dismissed on the grounds of reducing regular forces, not counting those dismissed in 2023.
Lack of myeloamines. Reservists sign a termination of service, photo: Gideon Markowitz
According to those dismissed, "the IDF has a clear interest in good officers who served in the system with dedication over the years, and the system is forced to part with them on the grounds of the IDF, to be positive ambassadors of the IDF towards their subordinates and colleagues, towards the civilian environment and in the reserves, in light of the damage to the trust of those who serve in the system, and especially at this time, when the issue of social cohesion is being tested."
According to them, they found themselves in an "impossible" situation emotionally in the face of surprise, in the functional aspect of career search and in the legal aspect, to fight the system to overturn the decree at a short notice of a few months.
For example, Maj. S., 39, an engineer, married father of two, was summoned for a conversation in early September last year after 20 years of service in the army, and was fired from the army abruptly. He was informed that he would be on retirement leave on 1 October, and that the military would end its contract with him on 31 December.
"My commanders were shocked," Maj. S. said, adding that the brigadier general who commanded him even wrote an appeal in order to overturn the decree. "They lack engineers, they say it all the time. They told me all along that they were happy with me, they even sent me to a lieutenant colonel's assessment center, and in the end I wasn't promoted because I was too old for the new model.
"Today I'm already after the anger, but it's just not fair. At first I thought I was alone, but slowly I got to know dozens more like me, people who were just thrown out by the army," he said.
"At first we all felt we had done something wrong, but then we realized it wasn't us. On the one hand, there is a severe manpower crisis, and the previous chief of staff coined the term 'man is precious.' So the person is dear to them, but the cost refers to money, not importance. I'm on the path of a budgetary pension, meaning they didn't give me a pension every month, yet they fired me because they preferred to throw me out than the young people. I leave the army with nothing, with compensation, most of which I had to give up in order to still receive a certain allowance at the age of 67."
Major S. added: "When I was informed of the dismissal, I discovered that my wife was pregnant, and that created a lot of anxiety at home. Unfortunately, the army also fired pregnant women in this way after approval by the required committee in the Economy Ministry."
"Infected with ageism"
M., the wife of another officer who was fired, said: "My husband will be 39 in two months, as will many others who are being fired today. Everyone is over the age of 36, because the target population for the CSS is only the 2010 model. By definition, these are majors who are close to retirement age, so the whole process is tainted by a kind of ageism.
"The move will trickle down to young officers." Cadets in Bahad 1. Archive, photo: IDF Spokesperson
"This is a silenced phenomenon of an attempt to erase the 2010 model, in which only an older and very small layer of majors remains, most of them in their last positions before retirement. The vast experience of people who gave 20 years of their lives out of a mission and the expectation to retire with dignity are thrown out because of a clerical decision, which creates a sense of exploitation and severe betrayal, especially when there is no justification for it – organizational and moral. Obviously, it also trickles down to the young officers."
An IDF spokesperson said: "In accordance with the multi-year plan, it was decided that every year changes will be carried out in the IDF, in accordance with organizational needs. These processes of change necessitated, among other things, processes of change in manpower standards and, in some cases, a reduction in regular forces."
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