View From the Ground

One of the most turbulent public debates in Israel right now is about the lack of military preparedness. The IDF assumed future battlefields would be high-tech affairs, where the principle burden would fall on the Air Force. The conception was proven wrong. Reserve infantry soldiers knew it before the rest of us did, before we knew about actual performance. They discovered how bad things were when they were rushed north to the Lebanese border and realized their ESUs – Emergency Supply Units – lacked basic combat equipment.
Here’s how a young infantry captain, a guy who’s led his reserve unit into battle before, explained to me what soldiers do when they lose their confidence in their High Command. After battles end, they take equipment home with them, back to their civil lives. Night vision instruments, battle vests, helmets, rifle sights, binoculars, boots. It’s not that difficult to do, since battles are chaotic events. When you return from action you can always report the equipment damaged, used, lost. They take it home, to make sure they’ll have it the next time around.
From the point of view of the Civil Penal Code this is called theft. From the point of view of combat soldiers it’s called patriotism. They don’t intend to evade a call for duty next time. They’re just making sure that when we need them, they can do the job.
I don’t know how many actually did, or do, such things. But the logic is clear enough. Small incidents. Big red alarm light.

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