The IDF senior command staff headed by the Chief of the General Staff convened today for a discussion on the topic of the multi-year work plan in light of serious budget cuts in the defense budget. The Minister of Defense, Director General of the Defense Ministry, and the General Staff were all in attendance.

Presented at the conference were the significance of the budget cuts on the 2003 work plans and the directions of the armament plans including the need to coordinate between potential threats and appropriate responses. There was also discussion on the meaning of the size of the IDF including manpower and permanent forces.

The Chief of Staff clarified that on the one hand Israel is facing a difficult economic situation, yet on the other hand, there are continuing threats to the State of Israel. The IDF will also significantly cut its budget without hurting the units engaged in fighting that comprise the heart of IDF activity.

“This is a complicated challenge consisting of many dangers and many opportunities which should be viewed from the standpoint of a stimulus for renewal,” said the Chief of Staff. He added that, “The IDF will be forced to make deep changes that are the product of an understanding of the threats and the issue of appropriate responses. We are speaking about heavy issues related to force structure, and it is important to preserve and continue developing capabilities through which we have had impressive achievements such as our firing and intelligence capabilities, and to close the gaps in the area of control and command in order to improve the strength of our forces.”

Senior officers expressed that commanders face a difficult challenge that consists of making cuts while preserving the quality manpower that comprises the essential operational facet of the IDF and without damaging fighting units and their professionalism.

The Chief of Staff clarified that the IDF will be forced to cut costs on manpower and emphasized that the IDF will continue to be the nation’s army and induct people from all walks of life into compulsory service.

With regards to the permanent army, the Chief of Staff said that we are speaking about service and mission, a fact that requires support, moral and ethical, by the Israeli Government.

The Chief of Staff thanked the commanders for their determined fight against Palestinian terror and asked that they convey his appreciation to the reserve soldiers who will continue to characterize the majority of the strength of the IDF.

Relating to the American offensive in Iraq, the Chief of Staff said that we are currently in the midst of an earthquake, the regional impact of which will only become clear in the coming months and years.

The Chief of Staff thanked the commanders and fighters who took part in and reinforced the IDF’s most recent high state of alert as a result of the dangers presented by the American offensive in Iraq. In conclusion, the Chief of Staff said that IDF commanders are standing on the cusp of challenges and changes and called upon the senior command staff to meet their tasks.