TEL AVIV Ñ Israel's military has submitted a long-term plan that
envisions a significant restructuring and reduction of the standing army.
Military sources said the U.S. defeat of Iraq eliminated a major threat
to Israeli cities by missiles and weapons of mass destruction. Iran and
Syria are still regarded as missile and WMD threats.
Under the plan, the Israel Defense Forces will significantly reduce the standing army
and officer corps, Middle East Newsline reported. The sources said the plan calls for a dismissal of 3,000
posts in the standing army from 2004 until 2007.
"We are talking about a plan that takes into account a change in the
array of threats against Israel," a senior military officer said. "It is the
classic case of taking calculated risks."
The cuts would be deepest in non-combat commands, such as the Home Front
Command. The sources said.
Is Group-think Rational?
Those who believe that an unplanned, random "Big Bang" explosion of unknown matter caused the formation of the numberless bodies of the cosmos should be able to answer the following questions: Read on . . .
Other cuts would come in weapons development programs, the sources said.
They said entire projects would be scrapped, but would not specify.
The plan also calls for the retirement of aging platforms, including
U.S. aircraft procured by Israel in the 1960s and early 1970s. The sources
said this would include the F-4 Phantom fighter-jet.
The five-year plan was discussed during a two-day seminar led by Chief
of Staff Lt. Gen. Moshe Ya'alon with senior commanders. The seminar
discussed changes in the Middle East, weapons requirements and expected
The cut in the standing army would be accompanied by a reduction in
military units, command posts and bases. The sources said many of the
military's services would be taken over by civilian defense contractors.
Military sources said the the IDF has already canceled orders,
particularly from local contractors, of ammunition, equipment, supplies and
weapons. They said they expect that orders scheduled to expire in 2004 would
not be renewed.
The government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has decided on deep cuts
in the defense budget over the next two years. Meir Shetreet, a minister who
focuses on finance, said the government plans to cut the defense budget from
the 39 billion shekels [$8.9 billion] approved in 2002 to 33 billion shekels
[$7.5 billion] in 2004.
Shetreet said the budget now stands at 36 billion shekels [$8.18
billion] for fiscal 2003. More than $2 billion of Israel's annual defense
budget consists of U.S. military aid.
"This is the first time that the military establishment understands that
there is no alternative but to cut the budget," Shetreet said.