“Motivation for service in combat units has improved, and in the last two years there has been a continuous increase in willingness to serve in combat units,” Kohavi said at a ceremony Tuesday marking the change of command for the IDF’s Ground Forces.
The military has in recent years been working to increase the motivation of young Israelis to join the IDF, especially combat roles. The drop in motivation to serve in combat roles is due to many new recruits preferring instead to serve closer to home and in technology roles or cyber defense.
The high numbers, Kohavi said, “testify to the readiness and sense of mission that the recruits have and are an expression of the work of Ground Forces commanders who are working on the issue.”
Over the years, the IDF’s Ground Forces were neglected as the military and political leadership chose instead to focus on and prioritize more cyber and intelligence capabilities. The military also reduced the size of its combat infantry forces following the decision to reduce the length of compulsory military service.
In 2018, former IDF Ombudsman Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yitzhak Brick harshly criticized the military’s organizational culture, the neglect of training with the reserves in particular, and the worrisome condition of the Ground Forces.
Ground Forces have also been rarely used for the past two decades to maneuver deeply in enemy territory and capture territory, including during recent wars in the Gaza Strip where troops are used in a cautious and limited manner.
Kohavi frequently talks about modernizing the Ground Forces and deploying them should they be needed.
“The test of war is not what capabilities we use, through maneuvering or fire, but the results we achieve. When we need to activate a maneuver, we will activate it and we will invade enemy territory firmly and bring about victory,” Kohavi said at the ceremony at Tel Nor base on Tuesday that saw Maj.-Gen. Tamir Yadai take over the Ground Forces from Maj.-Gen. Yoel Strick, who has served in the role for the past two and half years.
In an interview with Haaretz before finishing his role, Strick said that ground troops will be used when it “serves the war’s goals.”
According to Strick, the IDF invested NIS 200 million in building new training facilities for reserve units with the intention of having reserve combat units spend more time training and less time in routine operational deployment. There will also be NIS 1.2 billion for training Ground Forces in the budget for 2022, he said.
“In the past year, we have continued the upward trend in the recruitment of Bedouins to the IDF, with more than 600 conscripts, and we continue to work to increase the number,” he said at a ceremony marking the role of Bedouins in Israeli security forces.
“Military service and national service are not taken for granted, and I am glad that more and more members of the community are enlisting in diverse tracks,” Gantz said. “From an understanding of the importance of diversity, I want to see more of you in senior command positions, as well as in technological units and places that act as a gateway to Israeli society.”