Defense System Comptroller Brigadier General Eitan Dahan recently authored a sober report that sharply criticizes the condition of the reserve units in the IDF’s ground forces, particularly their training levels in recent years.
The draft of the report was leaked to Haaretz which published it on Thursday (מבקר מערכת הביטחון: צמצום האימונים פגע בכשירות יחידות המילואים למלחמה). It states that the scope and quality of training in the reserve units have decreased significantly in recent years, which has damaged some of the units’ preparedness for war. Part of the decline is attributed to the cuts in training in the first year of the Corona pandemic, but the decline has been recorded over several years.
Dahan found that the frequent changes made in the IDF’s plans of organizing the reserve system caused instability, which made it difficult to conduct continuous and effective training. According to the report, the IDF suffers from a lack of long-term planning for the reserve system, which also causes a breach of trust between the reservists and the army.
In addition, the report criticizes the lack of exercising the move from routine to emergencies for the reservists, which is a critical component in enlisting reserve units ahead of war or during security escalations. This problem also has to do with IDF’s sharp reduction of the number of visits by reserve battalions’ soldiers and commanders to the emergency storage units where they would acquire combat equipment in an emergency.
Haaretz notes that Dahan’s report connects to the alarming findings of surveys conducted in recent years by the IDF’s Behavioral Sciences Department. One survey, conducted among hundreds of reservists, revealed that half of them do not feel needed in the reserve. Only 64% of the commanders and 45% of the soldiers provided a positive opinion on the degree of unit cohesion in the places where they served – a sharp decrease compared to data from previous surveys.
There was also a sharp decrease in the level of confidence of the commanders in the ability of their unit to meet their tasks – only 67%. Also, 70% of the commanders and 50% of the soldiers in the reserve units thought that the training in their units was ineffective. In addition, 45% of the commanders and 27% of the soldiers surveyed answered that they do not receive proper recognition from the IDF, and an alarming 60% of the respondents—soldiers and commanders—answered that they do not trust the army to provide them with the equipment needed to complete the mission.