In the shadow of renewed grassroots protests against the planned state budget, cabinet ministers on Sunday morning 3 Sivan 5773 convened to begin discussing the state budget. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz prepared a lengthy in-depth presentation to provide the ministers with a clear picture of the military’s five-year plan, a plan that seeks to build a more efficient streamlined IDF, especially pertaining to ground forces. The changes proposed are unprecedented as Israel’s military prepares to adopt itself to new regional realities and challenges.
Defense Minister Ya’alon questions if the proposed 4 billion NIS cut in military spending is based on true knowledge and an understanding of the nation’s security situation, or possibly the result of the finance minister’s inability to reach agreement with the Histadrut national labor federation and others, leading Lapid to shift cuts to the military.
The problem is the military’s plan for the coming years is not doable if the budget cuts are approved and the cabinet will have to listen to the lengthy detailed presentation by Gantz. The IDF commander hopes to educate ministers to current defense realities and the plans for a military that will be capable to meet the challenges of the coming years.
The military is aware and willing to make a 3-4 billion NIS cut in 2013-2014 with the provision that the cabinet approves the 5-year plan and that the money being cut is returned from 2015-2017 to permit actualizing the plan. Officials feel the defense industry will generate the necessary funds in the coming years.
The IDF can make an immediate cut. The experts point out this will demand diminishing inventory which translates to a lower level of preparedness for lengthy war in the next two years. The IDF can also reduce the number of reservists called for training exercises in the coming years and standing forces can reduce training. The experts explain that while this is all doable, it will be reflecting in the level of training and performance of troops.
A great deal rides on the cabinet decision. The day began with a meeting of a few senior officials; Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, and Finance Minister Yair Lapid. They convened at 08:00, ahead of the weekly cabinet meeting, which began at 10:00.
Ya’alon requested the closed forum session for he feels the leading decision makers must obtain a comprehensive picture of the realities of ordering such a cut and the IDF’s five-year plan vis-à-vis regional threats and defense realities for the military as the intelligence community envisions the coming years.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)