The IDF wouldn’t be able to fulfill its mission of protecting Israel without soldiers who can meet every physical challenge thrown at them. This week, the IDF’s top commanders didn’t simply give their soldiers this message. They showed the rest of the IDF how to keep fit by participating in the IDF Commanders Championship.
Who would win in a fitness contest between the Navy, the Air Force and the Ground Forces of the IDF? That question was answered Wednesday when the IDF’s highest-ranking personnel got together at the Wingate Institute for the IDF Commanders Championship. The Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, members of the General Staff and senior officers from across the IDF faced off against each other in a series of physical tests. The Ground Forces came in at the top, the Air Force made second place, and the Navy came in third.
Lt. Gen. Gantz open the first race and stressed the importance of combat fitness activities in the IDF. “Combat fitness is critical for the IDF as a fighting organization, and is part of the ability to sustain our broad range of operations,” said the Chief of Staff.
The purpose of the day was for IDF commanders to show a personal example to the rest of the IDF. ”My expectation is that commanders will serve as a personal example in terms of diet and health, and encourage their subordinates to do the same,” said Lt. Gen. Gantz.
Living a healthy lifestyle, combat fitness and proper nutrition is gaining momentum in the IDF. “Our fighting forces need it all – a healthy lifestyle, fitness and most certainly combat strength. These soldiers walk long distances with heavy weights on their backs. Defeating our enemies is dependent on their ability to do this,” said Lt. Gen. Gantz.
The IDF’s senior commanders present at the event all extolled the importance of health and fitness. “It is the commanders that give the message the even during busy days, it’s important to engage in physical fitness,” said Chief of the Ground Forces Command Maj. Gen. Guy Zur. “You can’t call yourself a combat soldier without it.”
“There’s no substitute for a personal example,” GOC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Shlomo (Sami) Turgeman said. “Just talking about it doesn’t help – you have to do it.”
“We’re in the process of a cultural revolution here,” Commander of the Israel Air Force Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel said. “And it’s heading in a very positive direction.”
Head of Ground Forces Combat Fitness, Col. Oren Gil, noted that all the food that was eaten during the championship was prepared with an emphasis on nutritional health. “These products are unique to the army and are prepared in a healthy way only. This can be done in every unit of the army, at no additional cost,” said Col. Gil.
During the day, commanders who took part in the Championship participated in competitive heats and fun activities. Stations were set up to run health and fitness tests for all of the participants. At the closing ceremony, trophies were awarded to the winning teams.
The Championship is only the beginning of the IDF’s Fitness and Health Month. During October, unit across the IDF will put a special focus on the importance of fitness and healthy living. All commanders and soldiers will participate in a variety of sports activities and lectures on the subject.