Defense Ministry receives less than half of what it asked for

matthew krieger and herb keinon, THE JERUSALEM POST

The cabinet approved an additional NIS 3 billion per year for the long-term defense budget during it regular weekly meeting on Sunday, instead of the NIS 7b. requested by Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

The allocation was made within the framework of the recommendations issued by the Brodet Committee in May.

“It’s ludicrous to think that an entire country will stop all its welfare and education projects so that the defense establishment can have all it demands. We must prioritize so that the war on poverty and unemployment doesn’t falter,” the Prime Minister’s Office said.

Analysis: An armed force or a trade union?

Of the 21 cabinet members, sixteen voted in favor of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s proposal to accept the Brodet Report’s recommendations, which called for a rejection of the request for an additional NIS 7b., while only five ministers supported Barak’s motion.

Ahead of Sunday’s budget discussions, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi warned Finance Ministry officials they would bear responsibility for any repercussions if they refused to approve the NIS 7b. increase.

“I ask you to approve our request. I warn that if it isn’t approved, you will bear the responsibility,” Ashkenazi said.

The Brodet Committee, headed by former Treasury director-general David Brodet, was set up after disagreements erupted between the Defense and Finance ministries following the Second Lebanon War over the Defense Ministry’s demand of a budget increase of some NIS 30b. The Finance Ministry provided the defense establishment with only NIS 8.2b., to cover direct IDF expenses during the war.

The Brodet panel was charged with reviewing the defense budget and tailoring it to the needs of the IDF, taking all military and geopolitical factors into consideration.

The committee’s mission was to establish a stable multi-year spending plan, but defense officials said the army needed a far bigger budget to prepare for the current and future threats facing the country.

“The Brodet Report recommends additions to the defense budget over the course of the next decade, a growth that will promise stability and security for defense undertakings. Obviously, not everything the defense establishment needs or demands can be done in one year,” said officials in the Prime Minister’s Office following Sunday’s tense seven-hour meeting.

The cabinet decided to allow the Treasury and the Defense Ministry to negotiate the ministry’s budget themselves, as in previous years, and to ignore the committee’s recommendations. The final decision on the budget rests with Olmert.

Barak said at the cabinet meeting he was surprised that part of the plan for building Israel’s strength was being cut, in light of the strategic reality in the region.

Barak said it was necessary to build Israel’s deterrent and its ability to win wars decisively.

A victory, Barak said, needed to be “clear, swift and decisive on enemy territory.”

To achieve this, Barak said, Israel needed an active and multi-layered antimissile system. He said that in five to seven years it would be possible to develop a system that would prevent missiles from reaching Israel, an objective worth investing in despite the enormous cost.

He also said the army needed to be expanded by two divisions to improve its flexibility. He also said the IDF’s manpower was less then half of what it was in the past.

Barak also sought an increased budget for IDF training and for units operating far from Israel’s borders.

During the cabinet meeting, Barak spoke at length about changes Ashkenazi had implemented in the army over the last six months, and said it was important for the state to give Ashkenazi and his General Staff the tools to continue with them.

Olmert, meanwhile, rejected arguments by Barak and the defense establishment that the failures of the Second Lebanon War were due to budgetary problems, saying these claims were “exaggerated.”

“It’s ludicrous to think that an entire country will stop all its welfare and education projects so that the defense establishment can have all it demands. We must prioritize so that the war on poverty and unemployment doesn’t falter,” the Prime Minister’s Office said.

July 30, 2007 | 5 Comments »

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5 Comments / 5 Comments

  1. any addiction is hard to break! Funny thing about any weapon systems especially most sophisticated of them they require lots of maintenance and spare parts. The Americans can still squeeze us as long as we continue to use their weapons and systems. The process of Independence is a long one but it must be begun and with some urgency.

  2. Yamit, you make a good point regarding IDF budgetary demands. It is the same game whether it be municipal, provincial, state or federal department heads. All ask for more and run a second set of numbers for less.

    The other part of that game is that departmental management breeds inefficiencies and waste. If a department gets say 25 million dollars for road maintenance and it were through more efficient management use only 20 million of that, they could expect that their next year’s budgetary allowance would be cut to 20 million from 25 million.

    I am not familiar with the way equivilent departments are run in Israel, but I do expect there is some of that inherent motivation to spend all of one’s budgetary grant as opposed to finding more efficient ways to lessen spending.

    As for Israel to become self sufficient in manufacturing many of her own armaments and munitions, the benefit to Israel of such a program would be to reduce her dependency on America. That would have been obvious to Olmert and past Israeli leaders. What therefore is not obvious is why presumably bright leaders did not do the obvious by setting Israel on a path to self sufficiency.

  3. Without the military, there will be no Israel, so the economy and social issues must come second. If the IDF is wasteful, then that waste must be cut out, however the security and offensive capabilities of the IDF must continue to grow – ie stop the waste of the IDF and increase its effectiveness. That is just common sense.

  4. Bill here are some things you should know:

    Regular Army personnel can retire with 3/4 pension after 20 years. This is like social security in America the more retirees collecting the more it eats into defense budget ea. year/ almost half our DB goes to retired IDF personnel along with a myriad of costly perks. The ratio of support non combat personnel to combat soldiers are 9-10 to one. Even though all get same benefits and pensions.

    As all governments and especially militaries are extremely wasteful The IDF is Super wasteful. The treasury has been trying for years and years to get a handle on it but with no positive results. Ea. time they cut the Defense budget the IDF cuts either manpower or training or stockpile reserves, heaven forbid they would curtail revise or change some of the benefits the Top officers get. Why they all retire after twety or twenty five years and then through good old boy network get cushy government jobs until 67 so they in effect cost the country double and triple. OR they go into POLITICS!

    Barak when he was chief of staff a few years back advocated a small hard hitting offensive minded IDF! where is that Barak today?

    The IDF always asks for a lot more than they know they will get so during negotiations on Budget they always compromise and in the end they get what they want and both sides claim victory. Even when their budgets were actually cut they always got it back and more by supplimentary budgets and with little opposition.

    Logic would dictate that a mil. budget would reflect current and potential future needs based on current data and strategies and tacts would be developed and designed cost determination assessed and then budget compiled and funded accordingly. Not so first everything is almost Ad Hoc both from the Military and the Politicians.

    while the actual budget for IDF is a State secret: Guesses run from10-20 billion dollars per year, 50% goes to pensions and benefits to retired IDF personnel. 10-20% goes to debt reduction including interest payments to USA for skyhawks and Phantoms we received in the 70s from UNCLE SAM. Begin was showing off Bravado and insisted we pay for them rather than to ask the costs to be deferred as a grant. We are still paying for this by having our aid package reduced to reflect payment for past debts. Then every time someone stools on us about construction over the green line the USA deducts similar amount from our aid package, It runs sometime into hundreds of millions of Dollars.

    By Israel receiving around 2.5 billion in mil. aid per annum, we have deferred,reduced, or eliminated our own production of same or similar items and not least important favored dollar Defense purchases over Local vendors; which hurt our own Industry, contribute to Israeli unemployment and restrict advanced local R&D which is our lifeblood in developing state of the art technologies.

    A few years back IDF deceided to purchase using American aid Combat Boots and Uniforms fro USA. This closed several factories and made a lot of People from Israelis poor development towns and Arab and Druse villagers Unemployed for the sake of saving Dollars in the Budget. Why pay 20 million dollars for Israeli made items when they are free from America. The Paradox is that these Items I just mentioned are actually made in Haiti.

    There is no reason we should still be receiving American military aid/ For 2-3 Billion a year I see no reason to sell our soul, our political independence. and our economic well being. There are very few items we get from the Americans we can`t make ourselves, then sell to third parties to offset costs, which we can`t do today as America has veto power over us.

  5. The story behind this story is doubtless more interesting. If only someone would bother digging out the facts.

    If the PM’s words are true, then Israel has only so much money to go around to support Israel’s various needs. Just where does the need for Israel’s defence measure up to in the government’s priority scale by comparison to the war on poverty, unemployment and other obvious national needs?

    One would think that Israel’s defence would be the top priority for if Israel’s defence forces fail, that could mean that Israel is no more and if that is the case that would end the problem of Israel’s war on poverty and unemployment.

    So, just what is the budget of Israel and what are the rankings by priority of all the needs that the GOI must fulfill?

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