An association of reserve soldiers is demanding the government cancel a decision to cut training for reservists, following the allocation of an additional NIS 2.75 billion to the defense budget.
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“After a year of severe cuts in training for the reserve corps, which stemmed from the general cut in the defense budget, we want to emphasize and request the restoration of the budget necessary for training the reserve corps,” wrote Amutat Meshartei Hamiluim, in a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon this week. The group is usually an advocate for reservists’ rights and improved service conditions.
“There’s no need to waste words on explaining the importance of maintaining the preparedness of the reserve corps... We are literally talking about human lives, about preparedness for war, about the structure and equipment of the reserve units and, above all, about upholding the Reserves Law, which explicitly includes a demand to maintain the units’ fitness for their missions in an emergency,” the letter continued. “We urge you, as the ones who take responsibility and risk [to ourselves], to transfer the funding needed to uphold what was emphasized in the Reserves Law, enacted in 2008, regarding the fitness of reserve units.”
When the 2013 budget was initially passed, the defense allocation was significantly smaller than the IDF had requested. In response, the army decided to sharply cut back on training and to cancel call-up orders for dozens of reserve battalions. The result was a sharp drop in the number of days of reserve duty, as well as reduced training for regular army units, which now need to devote more time to operational activity that was previously handled by reservists.
A senior officer serving in the West Bank said that training for his reserve battalions had been severely curtailed. In addition, the Nahal Brigade in his sector had spent almost nine months of the year on operational activity, at the expense of its own training time.
A brigade commander serving in the West Bank noted that he had managed to scrounge some training days for one reserve battalion under his command about two weeks ago, but only by using money saved from the headquarters budget, rather than because funds had been allocated for this in advance. The other two reserve battalions under his command were last called up for training more than a year-and-a-half ago, and it’s not clear when they will be able to train again, he said.
The Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment on the letter from the reservists, as did the defense minister’s media advisor and the IDF Spokesman’s Office.