Sunday, July 8, 2012

IDF, Keep Compulsory Draft!

I used to think that I agreed with most of Moshe Feiglin's points, except for his totally unrealistic idea that he could and would take over the Likud.  Feiglin is no close to taking over the Likud than he was when he started his campaign. 

Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu  proved it before the last elections when he got the Likud "court" to approve his "tweaking" of the Knesset list to move his backers yes-men up ahead of Feiglin and other Right wing candidates.  That move was totally immoral and antidemocratic.  I still can't believe that Bibi had the gall to attempt it and didn't think the Likud would let him pull it off.

All Feiglin has succeeded in doing is get people to vote for Likud which gives us the policies of Meridor and Barak.  Netanyahu has been saying for years --I heard him with my own ears-- is that he wants the Likud to be a Center party, not Right.

Now Feiglin is joining the "stop the draft" campaign.

So the Right doesn't really want this compulsory draft and the Left doesn't, either.
More ridiculous is the fact that not only is the IDF not interested in this draft, but it really doesn't need it, either.

Says who? I don't see how Feiglin comes to those conclusions.

Israel is a small country with a very heterogeneous population.  It is also a country in danger all of the time.  Surrounding countries and even those further away consider it their primary aim to destroy us.  We are nothing like the United States.  The USA doesn't really need much of an army.  Most of their soldiers are fighting foreign wars.  The country itself is not in danger.   I can see most of you opening your mouths to talk about 911, terrorism and all that.  To fight terrorism you don't need a conventional army of tanks and an air force.  The American system is irrelevant to Israel and its needs.

Israel needs every single type of soldier.  The IDF must utilize the varied talents of the population to defend the country.  Our school system must educate the youth about the importance of defending the country.  Our history, citizenship and geography curriculum must be rewritten so that every student understands why we're here, what our rights are, our legitimacy etc.  We need soldiers from the Left, Right and Center and from the secular, traditional, dati and chareidi.  For many Israelis, the army is the first place they really get to know a wide variety of Israelis and understand that we must live and work together.

Feiglin claims that the soldiers in a professional IDF will be respected and admired, unlike the situation in the USA.  He's wrong, just like he was wrong about his taking over the Likud.


Shelly said...

Sorry, but I disagree with you on this. I do think that we need a variety of beliefs and talents. But I don't think we need a draft. I think that today the army has many soldiers that it doesn't have a need for and on which it is wasting money. I think that if it could take only the soldiers that it needs it would save a lot of money which would allow it to offer better conditions to its soldiers - conditions attractive enough that youth would want to volunteer and the army would have its choice of who to take, leading to a leaner more effective army.

Batya said...

Shelly, sorry, but we'll just have to disagree on this. I don't thnk you're being realistic in terms of Israel and its needs also as a Jewish nation. The IDF is also more than just a military body; it's a melting pot for the nation Jewish People.

Eliyahu S. said...

That's the point, Batya - you want the IDF to continue its historic mission of educating, homogenizing, and rebuilding the nation's youth. It's a noble task, but it's not a military mission, and it detracts from the much more serious task the IDF is trying to do.

50 or even 25 years ago, Israel needed every soldier it could get, because it wasn't trying to turn them into techno uber-soldiers.

Today, Israel is at the forefront of developing the world's most sophisticated military technology; the threat facing Israel is much more complex than the hordes of fellahin who infamously kicked off their boots and ran off barefoot into the desert. The military command wants to field a smaller number of the most highly trained and equipped soldiers it can.

You're probably not a big fan of matters military or the technology of combat tactics, or else you'd see things differently. The new systems allow each and every soldier to operate with more C3I equipment on his head and shoulders than used to exist inside an entire battallion command car. And using that technology effectively takes the equivalent of an undergrad degree in military science, with a 2-year tech degree thrown in on how to care for and maintain all of that electronics. But when they're using it, a single patrol is composed of men where each one can literally see through the eyes of any and all of his squadmates (because each one carries cameras on his helmet that the others can access remotely, and see on their own goggles.) And those images get overlaid with maps, infrared scans, tactical data about the enemy, text messages from higher command, and the ability to exchange maps and radar scans with airplanes, helicopters, tanks, and armored vehicles. It's so incredibly complex you have no idea. (And that's just the "troops." The squad leader also has medical displays to show the moment by moment health - pulse, blood pressure, etc. of every soldier in his command, plus he gets extra map and text channels to several levels of command at one time, and other goodies. Using it takes a Master's degree's worth of training. Literally.)

But training and equipping each trooper can run upwards of a million dollars! (You think you can have each man walking around with an entire platoon's worth of electronics for free?) And if that trooper isn't smarter than the average bear, and hasn't been willing to learn and train with the equipment for at least three or four years, the army is just pissing the money away.

The reward for the army is that you could literally send in a dozen of these high-tech soldiers into a Jenin-style situation and expect them to effectively take on a hundred or more of your average enemy soldiers. With proper tank and helicopter support, 20 such soldiers could literally take on 500 or 1,000 conventionally equipped "grunts." The force multiplication factor of such technology is that amazing.

(Of course, if you took away their guns and gave them paintballs, you can imagine what would happen, and has. If we don't also train senior command to use their heads instead of their butts, the entire program is a waste of time.)


Eliyahu S. said...

So that's what you're arguing against, Batya. Instead of turning out the highest tech, most powerful fighting force on the planet, you want the IDF to take tens of thousands of barely literate high school rejects, nursemaid them and give them the education they missed, (doing the job the schools are now spectacularly failing to do,) AND go through enough psychology and group dynamics training to turn them into sociable, respectable citizens, (to make up for decaying social values,) and then, after 100,000 or more shekels have been spent on these piss-poor people, and they are now ready to begin being trained into decent (not good, just decent,) soldiers, you want the Army to kick them loose so they can start collecting the benefits of a hayal meshuhrar?!! Should Tzahal defend Israel, or replace the Ministries of Education and Social Welfare?

I'm with Moshe on this one.

Batya said...

Eliyahu, I'm not a fan of total technology. I relate to King David, who rejected Saul's hightech of the time weapons which didn't do Saul any good. We all know that the young David easily killed Goliath.

Today's army needs both he simple soldier and sophisticataed technology.

We should not have a nation that relies on machinery. All that brain stuff won't save us. this is the Jewish nation and we survive by different rules.

We have G-d Who demands we all make our efforts and not rely on tech or the Aron for victory.

NormanF said...

I have to agree with Eliyahu.

People should not be forced to serve. Those who can and do want to serve their country, they will join the IDF.

The rest can do national service. Israel is better off with a smaller, highly rapid striking force. The Arabs rely on conscript armies because the educational level of the average Arab low and they are unmotivated to serve.

The advantage of a small country like Israel is in the high quality of its population and the IDF needs to be an elite force. Every Western country is moving to a smaller mobile army and Israel is going to eventually do the same thing.

What will win wars in the training, motivation and equipment the soldier has not sheers numbers. The nature of warfare has changed and Israel must adapt accordingly.

Abraham said...

We talk about whether yeshiva students should go to the army. It is an important and critical juncture of our history. But so it the lonely widow down the street. Should we not focus on issues more germane, more relevant and appropriate! We sit and attempt to foreshadow the future of Iran, to suggest beforehand election results and Supreme Court decisions, while the poor go hungry and the depressed remain despondent. But is not the future of world Jewry of most intense concern, the vitality of Israel our focus? It is; but, really, really, how does all the talk and conversation affect the results.

Shelly said...

Well said Eliyahu. Batya, we will have to disagree. We are surrounded by enemies and our army needs to focus on being the best army it can and leave other tasks to the relevant bodies. I'm with Moshe on this - as a matter of fact we had this discussion around my dinner table Friday night and suggested much the same as Feiglin did (and we had not yet seen his editorial)

Batya said...

Shelly, Norman, we don't have to agree on everything.

I remember well how it wasn't machinery or even numbers that gave us our victory in 1967. G-d told the tribes that wanted to live on the other side of the Jordan that they still had to join in the national army.

Avraham, I blog on a multitude of subjects. I just looked at your blog. Golda Meir is not my expert on Jewish morality. There are milchamot mitzvah, and there are times that it is a great mitzvah to kill your enemy.

Leah, Maaleh Adumim said...

regarding a high-tech army - a famous story by Arthur C Clarke:

plus, not every soldier is going to be using the high-tech gadgets that Eliyahu describes. there are a lot of jobs in the army and not all of them use/require high-tech.

I'm with Batya on this one, for all the reasons she describes.

Batya said...

Leah, in all honesty, I wonder how any truly G-d fearing man/woman, Torah Jew can believe that our wars can be won with machinery only.

G-d has shown us over and over that we win by different "rules," and national unity is a large part of it.

Leah, Maaleh Adumim said...

very true, Batya.

Batya said...

Leah, I'll have to base my next post on the issue specifically on that point.

Anonymous said...

Dear Eliyahu S, as someone who designed battle command systems for a living, I would like to inform you that your views are pure faddish bupkess. There is NO substitute for numbers. Fancy C4ISR is great and all, but it does you no good whatsoever when you run out of bodies and bullets. The Georgians had really fancy C4ISR, drones and all that crap. The Russians kicked their arses in six days, simply by overrunning them with numbers. Stop thinking in terms of some police action, and start thinking about the day when 1.2 billion moslems unite against Israel and throw tens of millions of men into the decisive battle for the borders.

goyisherebbe said...

Allow me to talk like the rabbi and say that you are all, in a certain sense, right. Once the army is voluntary it will be open season for the left to dump on it and call it a bastion of the religious-fascist far right. The left-of-center youth will not sign up any more. OTOH making military service a paid choice rather than an unfairly shared burden is not a bad idea. Solving the question of paid thugs and compromised idealists is needed, but it always was. I tend to believe that disobeying orders in the face of a massive sellout is insufficient, but the question is whether poskim would allow more. They probably wouldn't. I don't even know if R. Kahane hy"d zt"l would if he were still around.

Batya said...

a, thanks, there are many reasons why it's wrong to think of war as a computer game.

goyish, nu, as a rabbi, aren't we supposed to learn from the Tanach?
1- milchemet mitzvah is for all, not just some computer geeks
2- King David's military might was from G-d. That's what he always said
3- history, our victories made no "sense." G-d rules

Anonymous said...

Dear goysherebbe, you know full well that it was the duty of the IDF to mutiny and crush the Sharon government with tanks. How each supposed "posek" rules on this issue is a good way to judge whether or not he is a real rabbi, and qualified to judge halacha. Do not decry how "poskim" rule. Decry that in this generation we have no rabbis.