Daily Israel Report

IDF Weighs Shortened Service for Non-Combat Soldiers

Special committee to examine the possibility of determining length of military service by importance of position.
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 1/24/2014, 11:02 AM

IDF non-combat soldier processing recruit in Tel HaShomer (illustrative)
IDF non-combat soldier processing recruit in Tel HaShomer (illustrative)
Flash90

The IDF is currently weighing the possibility of shortening the military service for "non-essential" non-combat soldiers from three years to just two, Yedioth Aharonoth revealed Friday. 

The internal committee responsible for the decision is headed by an unnamed Brigadier general, and will report the findings of an internal review to General Orna Barbivai of the Manpower Division, according to the daily. 

The issue is a sensitive one, as tens of thousands of Israelis are recruited every year to a "people's army" - but relatively few are drafted to combat positions. Non-combat positions, or "jobnik" positions, are widely perceived to be less desirable for one's army service by the draftees themselves - and are costly to the State, according to IDF officials. IDF sources stressed that the problem needs to be dealt with, as unnecessary or redundant positions have been straining the IDF's budget. 

The bulk of the review will focus on the enormous bases in Tel HaShomer, Tzrifin, and the Kirya in Tel Aviv - where thousands of soldiers man the desks for the IDF's bureaucratic machine. 

"At least 30% of the administrative positions on those bases could be cut, and no one would notice the difference," a "senior source" told the daily. "Thousands of soldiers only serve for 2-3 hours per day, 4-5 days per week [. . .] the army prefers not to pay extra salaries for this type of work." 

General Barbivai added that the move would drastically increase the salary of combat soldiers; an unmarried, non-immigrant combat soldier's salary currently stands at a measly 800 shekels (approximately $250) per month. 

In November, a lawsuit revealed that the IDF's salary hierarchy grossly underpays soldiers in general, with provisions for basics being based on data from 1986. A soldier's basic needs now cost over four times the base 800 shekel salary, it was revealed then.