Com­bat sol­diers’ wages to rise 25%

Pay hike part of multi-com­po­nent plan to en­cour­age en­roll­ment in fight­ing units, fol­low­ing de­cline in mo­ti­va­tion to serve

The Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By ANNA AHRONHEIM and Jerusalem Post Staff

Salaries of com­bat sol­diers in their fi­nal year of ser­vice will in­crease 25% to NIS 2,000 a month from NIS 1,600 on Novem­ber 1.

“The most im­por­tant part of the IDF is our fight­ers,” IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said on Wed­nes­day in mak­ing the an­nounce­ment. “We’re try­ing to make sure and con­vey to the sol­diers how much we ap­pre­ci­ate them.”

Ac­cord­ing to IDF statis­tics, there has been a de­cline in mo­ti­va­tion of re­cruits to serve in com­bat roles, with just 67% seek­ing fight­ing po­si­tions this past July, down from 71% in March and 74% in Novem­ber. The rea­son, ac­cord­ing to the IDF, is a pref­er­ence to serve closer to home and in tech­nol­ogy or cy­ber-de­fense roles.

The chief of staff stressed that although the ad­di­tional salary would be al­lo­cated to com­bat sol­diers, the change did not by any means sig­nify that sol­diers such as those serv­ing in cy­ber units don’t mat­ter, but rather that “the most im­por­tant thing is the army’s fight­ing force that carry out the tasks and risk their own lives while do­ing it.”

Eisenkot added that he would be happy to see such trans­for­ma­tions made in the fu­ture “not only through dona­tions but as an in­sti­tu­tion­al­ized, state-spon­sored” process be­cause the coun­try ought to show that it “val­ues those who serve it.”

The salary in­crease is only one of a se­ries of changes the army is im­ple­ment­ing to al­ter the trend, in­clud­ing sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments at com­bat bases, as well as cards with ben­e­fits; new equip­ment; and fund­ing a bach­e­lor’s de­gree for ev­ery com­bat sol­dier.

The bud­get for the fund­ing of bach­e­lor de­grees for com­bat sol­diers is com­bined with the De­fense Min­istry, IDF and dona­tions, Eisenkot said.

“I told Friends of the IDF that money is im­por­tant to build build­ings and bas­ket­ball courts, but most im­por­tantly to build peo­ple – to take 8,000 sol­diers and make sure they at­tend univer­sity,” he said, stress­ing that ed­u­ca­tion makes for a bet­ter army and a bet­ter so­ci­ety.

The ben­e­fits card, which has a NIS 1,000 value, will not only re­duce the need for dona­tions and re­duce the ex­penses of sol­diers and their fam­i­lies, but also al­low fight­ers to pur­chase per­sonal items such as socks, ath­letic shoes and un­der­shirts. It also could be used in restau­rants and movie the­aters.

The IDF also will in­vest some NIS 70 mil­lion to make sure ev­ery com­bat sol­dier who fin­ishes ba­sic train­ing also re­ceives a kit with new and im­proved equip­ment, in­clud­ing generic items needed for com­bat, as well as be­ing tai­lored to the needs of fight­ers in dif­fer­ent units. The kit, which al­ready has been re­ceived by some 5,000 sol­diers, will re­main with them through­out their ser­vice.

Fur­ther­more, the sol­diers will re­ceive their com­bat-sol­dier cer­tifi­cate, which en­ti­tles them to cer­tain ben­e­fits, at the end of 18 months of ser­vice in­stead of the cur­rent 20 months.

The chief of staff went on to ex­plain that th­ese changes are be­ing in­tro­duced in or­der to em­power com­bat sol­diers who are al­ready in ser­vice.

“This is a process that has been go­ing on for sev­eral years,” he re­vealed. “Some­body has to do it [man com­bat po­si­tions in the army] and that is the way to make the great­est con­tri­bu­tion to the army, to fight in its com­bat units.”

Eisenkot said the mes­sage he wants Is­raeli youth to take away from the an­nounce­ment is that when they en­list that they “do the very best they can to make as mean­ing­ful a con­tri­bu­tion as pos­si­ble.”

(Mo­hamad Torokman/Reuters)

SOL­DIERS RUN to­ward Pales­tinian ri­ot­ers in Kafr Kad­dum, lo­cated be­tween Nablus and Kalk­ilya, last month.

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