IDF tells officers: Lose the PowerPoint presentations
Deputy chief of staff sent open letter, saying slideshows make level of discussion, depth of study superficial.
When Moshe Arens started his third term as defense minister in 1999, he brought with him at least one significant change - prohibiting top Israel Defense Forces officers and Defense Ministry officials from delivering presentations with programs like Microsoft PowerPoint.
There is no reason to brand Arens a technophobe. The veteran minister simply concluded that computerized assistance compromises officers' concentration - they had fallen in love with the new technology and struggled to discuss complex issues.
Arens' instructions were forgotten shortly after he left the Defense Ministry, but now another senior defense official has picked up the torch. The deputy chief of staff, Brig. Gen. Erez Weiner, wrote a damning indictment of such presentations in last month's issue of the IDF journal Maarachot.
PowerPoint presentations, he wrote, represent "a strong point that has turned into a weak point. The Americans have concluded that using them makes discussions shallower and compromises analysis. The IDF remains addicted to this tool, and is paying for it dearly."
He added that "for many years the use of presentations in the civilian world has expanded, and even more so in the military. It is virtually impossible to have a discussion or lecture in a military forum in which the presentation is not used.
"I believe the use of presentations has made the level of discussion, and the depth of study, more superficial."
Weiner also quoted U.S. military scholar Col. Douglas Macgregor, who has published reports on senior defense figures discovering that the officers were simplifying complex ideas with "sound bites and amusing pictures." Since they were not forced to explain their positions over several written pages, the officers tended to resort to less coherent arguments.
IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, has yet to comment on the matter, but Ashkenazi has shown an impatience with imprecise reasoning.