Soldiers in training exercise (illustrative)
Soldiers in training exercise (illustrative)Israel news photo: Flash 90

The IDF Chief of Staff’s decision to slash training and three-week tours of duty for military reservists has caused anger and concern among activists dedicated to avoiding a repeat of the Second Lebanon War.

Training was cut due to a reduction in the Defense Department’s annual budget.

“I want to believe this is just a game of chicken between the Defense Ministry and the Finance Ministry, because if not, this is very similar to what happened in the Second Lebanon War and the Yom Kippur War,” activist Moshe Muskal of the National Responsibility group told Arutz Sheva.

“Things were quiet for a little while, so they said, ‘Let’s put the equipment away, let’s cancel exercises,’ and when the day came, they found that things were missing [from the warehouses] and the brigade commanders didn’t quite remember what they were supposed to do in a brigade exercise,” he explained.

“It’s hard for me to believe that a Defense Minister with such a distinguished military background is taking this route,” he continued. “When you cut drills and training, then when the moment of truth arrives you don’t know how to decide the battle, you go in and out, out and in.”

“I’d like to remind them that what lies beyond the Hermon Mountains is not [Switzerland, the Hermon is not] the Alps,” he warned. “Hizbullah is still to the north of us, and nobody knows how things will end in Syria. We cannot gamble with Israel’s defense.”

Muskal’s son Refanael was killed in the Second Lebanon War. Muskal subsequently founded the Achrayut Leumit (National Responsibility) movement, which has fought to hold military and political leaders accountable for decisions that led to failures during the war.

Training and drills for reserve soldiers were slashed during the years prior to the 2006 Second Lebanon War and reservists complained that they were ill-prepared to fight to their maximum ability. In the aftermath of the war, sparked by the kidnapping of two IDF soldiers by the Hizbullah, IDF Maj. General Moshe Kaplinsky wrote "the bulk of the regular forces were diverted to continuous fighting against terrorism.and major resources were not diverted to long term growth in power at the expense of neglecting the war reserve stores. The Northern Command was... considered a secondary front".