Year of Readiness


Israeli military forces have termed 2001 a “year of readiness” for regional war. Concerned at Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s inconsistencies in attending to the Palestinian revolt, Israel’s military leaders have begun mobilizing reservists.

With troops deployed along the West Bank and Gaza Strip for the past six months now showing signs of battle weariness, Israeli military chiefs are intent on providing appropriate relief. It is felt that the troops exposed to the past six months’ intimidation are becoming trigger-happy, adding to the problems of violence on the Palestinian front.

Senior Israeli officers are also keen to maintain the battle awareness of reservists. Brigadier General Yiftah Ron, chief of staff of Israel’s Ground Forces Command, cautions against the prospect of paying “a heavy price for stopping training…. The process of training and preparation is vital to building the military” (World Tribune, Jan. 17).

But Barak’s stop-go approach to Palestinian aggression is heavily impacting morale. Apparently, his approach has been to demand instant retaliation to Palestinian incursions, only to call for a pullback a few hours later when the inevitable agreement to “cooperate” comes from the Palestinian Authority (PA). This appeasing policy just frustrates the military in carrying out its role, allowing for little forward momentum in Israel’s security—just the way the PA wants it.

Military officers’ reactions to their perception of the imminent prospect of regional war has been to bring their plans to mobilize their reserves forward by four months to accelerate the process of training to ensure a battle-ready force this year.