The Salary Defense Forces

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz must relinquish secret pay-hike agreement for long-serving soldiers and divert the money to training reserve units.

The Israel Defense Forces is carrying out a public campaign against the planned cuts in its budget, warning of the security threats that would increase due to its resources being slashed. Amos Harel wrote on Monday that most reserve units' training and combat action would be halted by the end of the year, saving some NIS 1 billion. As a result the combat fitness and preparations of land and air forces will be damaged. The IDF also warns that it might be forced to decelerate its purchase of anti-missile Iron Dome batteries.

The IDF is hoping to exploit the public's bitter memories of the Second Lebanon War when citizens were exposed to rockets, and reserve units that hadn't trained for years were sent, unprepared, into battle. The message is clear: If the budget cuts are carried out, we will see more funerals and destroyed homes in the next war.

The plan to halt training reflects the distorted priorities of the General Staff. On Sunday, Moti Bassok revealed in TheMarker that a secret agreement was signed in February between the defense and finance ministries allowing generous pay hikes to regular army soldiers who have served for at least 20 years. The agreement notes that the hikes do not cover all of the IDF's salary demands.

The IDF is protesting the public debate as to the salary and pensions of its employees, arguing that it must attract the best commanders and compete with civilian employers. Now it turns out that the IDF cares, first and foremost, for its senior commanders, by raising the salaries of the longer-serving commanders instead of nurturing the young company commanders, pilots and naval officers contemplating a military career. It was revealed that Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz adopted the norms of public companies, where the "fat cats" enjoy excessive salaries and pensions.

The Finance Ministry, which is supposed to safeguard public funds and calls for budget cuts in the IDF, abused the public's trust by signing the agreement and concealing it from the public. While sanctioning pay hikes in the IDF, the Finance Ministry taxed pension funds for those earning more than NIS 15,000, thus enlarging the gaps between long-serving soldiers enjoying pensions and their civilian counterparts.

Gantz must demonstrate leadership by relinquishing the pay hikes he arranged for himself and other long-serving soldiers, and announce that the money would be diverted to training reserve units. He must also search for resources in the IDF's inflated administrations before damaging the fitness and preparations of combat units.