THE ISRAEL DEFENSE
of Haganah training still clanks its chains in the Israeli Army's general staff.
In the IDF officer corps, there is little thinking about military systems and structures, less interest in military history, and even less attention to the military, scientific and technological problems of the future. A course which goes on for a mere, albeit exhausting half year turns out an officer, so-called, with much physical, but little intellectual preparation. For most of those who graduate, and certainly those who become officers in the reserves, this will be their only military preparation.
Since the average soldier in the IDF has no real military schooling, when he faces a problem, he does not know how such, or similar problems, have been solved by commanders in past battles. The result of this deficiency is that the Israeli officer can only learn from his own experience. Furthermore the anti-intellectual atmosphere in the Army encourages an attachment to "approved solutions" whenever a disaster looms, instead of encouraging independent thinking. The failures on the Lebanese frontier as well as the large number of training accidents are tragic testimony to this.
The average Israeli officer does not read foreign professional literature. Apparently he thinks that he does not need it. Hence he cannot update himself about military thinking in the wider world, which is published in dozens of professional journals in many languages. Indeed, in the reign of former Chief of Staff Ehud Barak, the IDF decided that the publication of specialized literature for its various military arms was a waste of time and money.
An officers corps in a modern army requires professionalism. The IDF's policy of releasing its officers at a relatively young age, around 40, to keep the army young, is thus a stumbling block. Officers advance rapidly, before they have gained sufficient experience or learned enough. It is difficult to justify this policy in historical perspective, and even harder to see its logic today. Apart from the waste of human capital, this policy wastes money and time in the preparation of large numbers of replacement officers. Moreover, the young retirees of the IDF become a serious burden on the state budget because, to the end of their lives, they receive substantial pensions for doing nothing. The relatively lavish pay for permanent service people was intended to make the army competitive for the best talent. Instead, it undermined the army by creating a golden trap that made its officers reluctant to leave because most have neither abilities nor talents that would justify an equivalent salary outside it.
The integration of the services, the wonders of which are on everyone's lips, is, alas, only lip service, for most of the infantry officers have not the slightest conception of tank warfare and vice versa. They certainly are in a dense fog concerning other professional areas such as communications, intelligence etc. In the U.S. army, in contrast, the typical path of advancement of a
Outpost - 4 - September 1996