newsIsrael at War

How the IDF will transform following the Gaza war

The military is examining the possibility of establishing a new engineering battalion and bolstering the UAV array and the Armored Corps.

Israel soldiers in the Gaza Strip, Feb. 24. Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit.
Israel soldiers in the Gaza Strip, Feb. 24. Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit.

Although the Israel Defense Forces has only begun to investigate the lapses and lessons of the current war, it is already working on creating new units that will meet the security needs following the Oct. 7 Hamas onslaught.

Among other things, the IDF is examining the possibility of establishing a new engineering battalion, bolstering the unmanned aerial vehicle array in the air force, strengthening the Armored Corps by adding regular infantry battalions to replace reserve battalions, establishing several light infantry battalions and opening two additional regular Iron Dome batteries.

At this stage, these are staff projects and ideas, and decisions regarding the establishment of the units have not yet been made. The decisions will depend on the multi-year plan that will be derived, among other things, from the internal IDF investigations currently being conducted, as well as on the budgets and human resources that will be made available to the military.

Nevertheless, given the operational and security situation in the north, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi has already approved one decision; to resurrect the Hermon Regional Brigade, which was disbanded a few years ago for budgetary reasons and merged with the Golan Regional Brigade.

The war in Gaza demonstrated, among other things, the need to expand the Armored Corps, which was significantly reduced in size over the last two decades. Also, given the significant workload on combat engineers, the army wants to establish an additional engineering battalion and establish several more light infantry battalions, similar to the mixed-gender infantry battalions.

There is also no dispute over the need to establish additional regular Iron Dome batteries, as well as the need to expand the unmanned aerial vehicle array. The IDF has already expanded the UAV array, including establishing a new squadron at the Palmachim Air Force Base.

There are also quite a few additional bodies in the IDF that will need to grow in light of the lessons of the war, including units in the Intelligence Corps, and establishing new organizations in the Military Intelligence Directorate, strengthening the combat support array and even expanding staff bodies, such as the casualty department which will now have to deal with many more casualties and bereaved families.

The IDF is aiming at thousands more conscripted soldiers and career officers. At the moment, out of about 7,000 career officer positions the army requested, the Treasury approved about 2,500 additional positions for the IDF, and another 1,500 in a slightly different constellation.

As for conscript soldiers, the situation is a bit more complicated, as the security establishment has already announced that it wants to extend the mandatory service of men from 32 to 36 months. However, despite the operational need that the IDF defines as “urgent,” legislation is being delayed due to disagreements in the political system over the ultra-Orthodox draft and other political issues.

The army’s interim solution is to automatically issue emergency notices to conscripts completing 32 months of service to extend their service to 36 months. This happened to soldiers who were supposed to be discharged in November and is currently happening with soldiers due to be discharged in March.

Originally published by Israel Hayom.

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