A Green State of Mind

IDF (Zahal) Spokesperson

The IDF (Zahal) raises awareness about the importance of ‘going green’ on both the command and lower army levels, and reaps the benefits

Date: 31/01/2011, 8:17 PM     Author: Rotem Eliav

“The main cause of environmental damage in the IDF (Zahal) is a lack of awareness,” explains Head of the Environment Department, Maj. Victor Weiss. But the IDF (Zahal) has adopted a variety of methods to remedy this deficiency.

At the Northern Command’s Environment Department, led by Chief Warrant Officer Roni Menachem, each unit is appointed an instructor providing commanders with the best methods to preserve the environment both on their bases and during their day-to-day activities.

Additionally, along with the Israeli Environmental Center School, the Northern Command launched a seminar during which representatives from each unit receive ‘Environmental Care’ certificates. “These commanders and career soldiers become our representatives in their units and pass on information about the environment,” says Chief Warrant Officer Menachem.

“My goal is to encourage our soldiers to take an active part in saving the environment,” he stresses. The Northern Command itself has initiated a metal recycling project in which units collect their (massive amounts of) scattered metals and sell them to a contractor chosen by the Ministry of Defense. The money earned, to which the command adds five percent, goes toward trips, activities, and extra supplies for the unit.

“More and more soldiers keep calling me excited about their progress,” says the Northern Command’s Environment Dept. Head.

Hoping to reach soldiers in all units, the Education Corps added environmental projects to its roster in 2007 as well. At a conference that took place on Sunday (Jan. 9), Education NCO’s (non-commissioned officers) who are responsible for soldiers’ education were given tools and methods to motivate both commanders and soldiers to help the effort.

Another goal of the conference was preparation for Environmental Week set to take place in March and provide a soapbox for IDF (Zahal) environmental efforts, as they will be covered by the media. IDF (Zahal) units and other Israeli green organizations will be required to organize and participate in trips and other educational activities.

“We want you to become agents of change,” explains Head of the Environment Department, Maj. Victor Weiss, to the Education NCO’s. “Since the IDF (Zahal) is a big part of Israel and almost everyone in the nation is somehow linked to it, this is a great way of reaching people and truly generating change.”

Much of the conference focused on ways for individual soldiers to affect change. Soldiers have already begun demonstrating such efforts in the past with enthusiasm toward programs such as the Northern Command’s metal hunt and initiating others of their own.

One battalion adopted a deserted and devastated beach in Akko (northern Israel). With the help of their commander, the soldiers regularly cleaned and restored the beach, eventually receiving an Environmental Major Award. A battalion of the Armored Corps initiated similar efforts at a river in northern Israel and received an award as well.