(JNS.org) Newly proposed military budget cuts are “detached” from the reality on the ground in Israel, said the country’s defense minister, Moshe Ya’alon.
The Locker report, compiled by an Israeli government-appointed commission headed by Maj. Gen. (res.) Yohanan Locker, was released Tuesday. It recommends a reduction in the length of mandatory Israel Defense Forces (IDF) service, a fixed five-year budget for the IDF, and a dramatic cut in some of the pensions awarded to retired career soldiers, among dozens of other measures.
“The Locker report is superficial, radically imbalanced, and completely detached from the reality in the State of Israel and all around it,” Ya’alon said Tuesday. “If implemented, this report will force us to gamble with the safety of Israel’s citizens. Anyone who wants to successfully confront Islamic State, Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, and dozens of unstoppable terrorist organizations, as we have been doing so far, cannot afford to have a mediocre army manned by mediocre people. Sadly, the Locker report is pulling precisely in that direction.”
The report includes 53 recommendations on ways to streamline the Israeli defense budget. One of the suggestions that has particularly irked the defense establishment is cutting mandatory military service for men from three years to two years, the same length as women’s mandatory service, by the end of 2020. According to the Locker commission, combat soldiers asked to serve a third year will be compensated “appropriately.”
Another controversial recommendation is the revocation of the bridge benefit currently paid to career soldiers who retire from the military before the official state retirement age, when they become eligible for a retirement pension. A senior IDF officer told Israel Hayom that “it is inconceivable that service in the Shin Bet, Mossad, Israel Prison Service, and police will be more attractive than service with us. None of the people who serve in those organizations have the same job insecurity that we do in the IDF.”