Israel Army to Take over Recruiting Offices from Civil Authorities

The Israel Army will take over the Recruitment Division of the Ministry of Defense as an economy measure and “in order to streamline administrative procedures,” it was announced here today by Zvi Dinstein, Deputy Defense Minister.

The decision to transfer the recruiting offices from civilian control to the Manpower Division of the Army command was made by Prime Minister Eshkol following a recommendation of a special committee set up to study the problem. The Defense Ministry will save an estimated 800,000 pounds ($267,000) annually from the move while between 80 and 90 of the Ministry’s 1,400 civilian employes will become “redundant,” Mr. Dinstein said.

According to reliable sources, the decision followed a dispute in which senior officials of the Ministry had threatened to resign en masse if a much more comprehensive reform, including the transfer of ordnance, munitions plants and arms acquisition branches to the direct control of the Army were carried out.

Contending that such drastic changes would give the Army more than it could handle, the officials opposing the changes also expressed the fear that the Army would be unable to display the necessary objectivity and that the transfer of the recruitment functions would mean giving the Army “complete and undemocratic control” over all Israeli males from their 18th to 49th years. The officials reportedly accepted the recruitment change as a compromise.

Noting that the transfer of the recruitment functions was the only change decided on for the time being, Mr. Dinstein said that he could not perceive of any possible reduction in the authority vested in the civilian section of the Defense Ministry or any increase in authority of the Army. He said the transfer will be carried out gradually and completed by the end of the current fiscal year which runs through next March.

It was pointed out here that the Army’s Manpower Division has been computerized for several years and that all Army and reservist manpower data were handled by the Division anyway. The fact that recruitment was still handled by the civilian section of the Defense Ministry has led to duplication and complicated data processing.

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