Over the last year the Armored Corps has seen an increase in the motivation of its recruits, and unlike in the past, many candidates for defense service today want to reach the Armored Corps, don the black beret, and become a significant wielder of firepower in the next war.
Young people who studied together in high school or in the pre-military academy can enlist with their friends and go through the entire training course, from recruitment at the induction center to receiving the Armored Corps pin eight months later.
"We thought outside the box," Lt. Col. Tzafrir Har-Shoshanim told Arutz Sheva when we asked where the idea of enlisting members of the Armored Corps came from. "Until eight months ago we received a file with a list of recruits, and we worked to increase their motivation through conferences of recruits, home visits by commanders, and telephone conversations with the young people."
The work proved strength and motivation was raised, but senior commanders wanted to expand the recruiting wings. "We sat together with an officer in the armored corps, and we reached the understanding that we should bring people outside the list of recruits we receive from the combat unit, from the Meitav unit.
"We created a program in which service candidates are invited to join together as a group of two to six soldiers, and they will be together in the same company for the whole Armored Corps course - eight months," he says, noting that conscripts can also choose which brigade to enlist in - the 401st, the 7th, or the 188th Brigade.
Lieutenant Colonel Tzafrir Har-Shoshanim proudly tells about the 401th Brigade Rabbi, Captain Rabbi Ophir Brinner, who is pushing the project forward. "Our rabbi is very special in his human approach, his assertiveness, and his consistent work. The rabbi has become the one who leads the recruitment process before potential conscripts from pre-military preparatory programs, 'Follow Me' groups and high school groups.
"Four months before each induction cycle, the brigade officers move between pre-military and high school preparatory programs and among the participants in the 'Follow Me' program, and try to persuade the youth to enlist in the Armored Corps and to do so with their friends in the framework of the unique project.
"The hard work is worthwhile, and in the current recruitment cycle for July, there are more than 45 recruits who arrived in the Armored Corps together with their colleagues in the framework of the project."
Candidates who are convinced and want to join the Armored Corps, what should they do?
"First of all, they need to meet medical criteria, to send a request to change placement to the 401th Brigade and to specify the names of the members with whom you wish to enlist."
What units do candidates give up to enlist in the Armored Corps?
"All field units. We have guys we recruited from artillery, combat engineering, and infantry brigades. There are also those we've been in contact with in the months before induction so we can raise their profile and then we profit by having more fighters."
Lieutenant Colonel Har-Shoshanim says after the success of the project in the last two recruitment cycles, next time emphasis will be placed on non-religious high schools as well as on "Follow Me" groups. The deputy commander explains: "We have an interest in recruits from all sectors of the population, we want to recruit a variety, a melting pot in every sense of the word."
"Recruitment to the IDF isn't an easy stage in life, especially enlistment for combat service and certainly for armor," says 401th Brigade Rabbi, Captain Rabbi Ophir Brinner, who leads the project to recruit volunteers together as a group of friends. Serving together in the tank makes it much easier for the boys."
Rabbi Briner described how the work was carried out: "The possibility of enlisting together in the Armored Corps was published in high schools, in preparatory programs, and in other groups, and even in designated Whatsapp groups in which I am a member. We also held talks in the pre-military schools with the brigade commander and his deputy, battalion commanders, company commanders, and platoon commanders.
"If we have an officer who is a graduate of a preparatory program, we tried to have him talk in the same preparatory program. For example, to the Nofei Prat Preparatory School, we sent the commander of the reconnaissance company who was there."
In conversations with candidates for enlistment, they talk first and foremost about the importance of combat service, and not just armor. "At the end, these are the people who will decide the next war," explains Captain Brinner. "Then the officer talks about the armor and the uniqueness of it.
"This exposure to armor together with publicizing the project to recruit friends together gives a pretty big boost, and we've improved our image. The tool turned out to be a success - in the last two cycles there was great motivation and we had more guys who wanted to be in the Armored Corps than we had place for them.
"The members are recruited from the neighborhood, from the community, or from high school, and if they're happy, there's a positive snowball effect that starts rolling."
Does it sometimes happens that a joint recruitment of several members fails and doesn't take place?
"If the personal data isn't suitable, then they're told in advance that it's impossible to guarantee a place for them, but otherwise if they are suitable and the request was conveyed via the right pipeline and at the right time, then 95 percent of the time the members receive what they requested, including the same brigade to which they wanted to enlist.
"The last two cycles were successful. The young men are exposed to the fact that the Armored Corps is high-quality, with quick advancement options and quick advancement to command. The Armored Corps takes the soldiers into account, home leaves aren't as bad as they used to be, it's a good, high-tech force. So come."