The Finance Ministry is examining the economics of shortening compulsory IDF duty for men to two years, Haaretz has learned. The model being studied would have both men and women serve an equal amount of time, with the exception of those serving in elite or commando, special infantry and other units, who would be asked to serve for a longer amount of time. The army would receive special places budgeted for such soldiers and they would serve in the professional ranks for half a year to a year in junior positions.
Sources said work has begun on a plan after the IDF expressed satisfaction with reducing compulsory service for men. In 2015 their service was reduced from three years to 32 months, and in 2020 another two months will be reduced. The plan to reduce military service is expected to encourage more youths to move up their higher education and join the labor force earlier. The economy could earn 10-12 billion shekels ($2.7-$3.2 billion) a year more as a result.
Currently the IDF is leaning toward accepting the treasury’s proposal for a smaller reduction in men’s’ service from 30 to 28 months. The Finance Ministry would like the 28-month limit to go into effect immediately from the start of 2019. But the IDF prefers to wait to do this service cut in 2020.
The treasury has received messages from the IDF that cutting service by four months would not affect the professional level or motivation of the troops. IDF sources say they don’t envisage the plan doing any damage to war preparedness. Former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman had opposed an additional service cut last year for troops that hadn’t trained for special positions, arguing that strategic circumstances dictate a need to review the IDF’s preparedness. But the defense establishment supports the move and believes troops at junior levels will provide more service in comparison to thousands of troops who would have too little to do in a decade from now unless mandatory service is reduced.
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Long-term expectations are that due to a population increase, the IDF expects a greater number of recruits in another 10 years, so that even if service periods are cut to two years, the numbers of troops in uniform at a given time would remain the same as now. In 2027 the number of inductees is expected to rise by 17,000 over today’s level.
IDF service was cut to 32 months under a law passed in March 2014 and implemented beginning July 2015, and was part of a special budget plan that runs through 2020. A service cut to 30 months is also accounted for in the same budget.