While the religious Zionists live under the illusion their service in the IDF is applauded, they have yet to understand the senior ranks of the IDF is one of the remaining ‘good old boys’ networks in the country and everything possible is being done to keep right-wing kippa-wearing officers from the General Staff and from becoming Chief of Staff. Undoubtedly the soldiers emerging from the ‘mechina’ yeshivot are applauded for their dedication and commitment, but that is fine for as long as they do not move too far up the ranks. One pristine example of this would be Brigadier-General Ofir Winter, who has been fighting the system since trying to rise up above colonel. His promotion to brig.-gen. was delayed for years and today, it is clear he is no longer in line to become a chief of staff.
As part of the new IDF multi-year plan, which goes into effect in the coming months, the army is working to have younger officers and as a result, it is going to let go of some of the older ones serving today.
One of the provisions of the multi-year plan clearly sets a maximum age of 32, after which one cannot become a battalion commander. This in essence closes the doors of moving up the ranks beyond company commander to any of the dati leumi inductees and officers that learned in yeshiva gedola before entering the military for by the time they complete basic training, NCO certification, officers school and serve as a platoon commander, deputy company commander and company commander, it will be too late to continue up the ranks.
The bulk of the IDF inductees from the dati leumi community enlist at 18 so it will not impact them, but the bnei torah, those who studied in yeshiva gedola will no longer be able to long at the IDF for a long term career.
IDF officials insist it has nothing to do with keeping bnei torah out of the higher ranks but it is all about having younger officers. Officials insist that having older commanders compromises the performance of the officers as some of the battalion commanders were already 37 when moving into the slot and that is too old.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)