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August 26, 1966 - Image 3

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1966-08-26

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Israeli Civil-Military Power Dispute

By ELIAHU SALPETER

Chief JTA Correspondent in Israel"-

(Copyright, 1966 JTA, Inc.)

JERUSALEM—The struggle be-
tween the civilians and the mili-
taty, which seems to be inherent
in every military establishment in
practically every democratic coun-
try, exists also in Israel. What may
seem surprising is that here it
broke into the open only in re-
cent weeks, though it went on un-
der the surface from almost the
first years of Israel's existence.
One of the reasons for this is,
f course, the military press cen-
rship which has authority over
verything involving all defense
matters. Another reason is that the
defense establishment has only one
official spokesman for the press:
the military spokesman. In any
case. the Israel public at large
heard first of the struggle only
now, after the government's deci-
sion to transfer the Military Draft
Office from the 'Ministry of Defense
to the Manpower Department of
the Defense Forces, as part of a
reorganization in the defense
establishment.
* * *
The civilian arm of this estab-
lishment is the Ministry of De-
fense. Except for a brief period
when the late Moshe Sharett was
Prime Minister, the Premier was
always also the Minister of Defense
—first Ben-Gurion and now Eshkol.
The military arm is the Defense
Forces, headed by the Chief of
Staff, who is in fact also the top
officer of the army. Though the
navy and the air force have their
own commanders, they are\ respon-
sible to the Chief of Staff. And
while the navy and the air force
are more independent units df
the Defense Forces than, say the
armored forces or the training
command, they do not enjoy the
same amount of independence and
autonomy as the navy or the air
force in the United States.
In general terms, the Ministry
of Defense provides the means
which the Defense Forces need to
carry out their tasks. The essen-
tial arguments of those who would
like to transfer many of the tasks
from the Ministry to the Defense
Forces are two: First, that at pres-
ent there is just too much duplica-
tion; and, second, that the mili-
tary can carry out many of these
tasks better and more efficiently
than the civilians do. The counter-
argument of the opponents is • that
this would weaken further the con-
trol by the civilian authorities over
the Military.
* * *
As is probably natural, every
Chief of Staff has wanted to take
away certain functions from the
Ministry, while every Deputy Min-
ister of Defense (who is the man
actually running the Ministry) op-
posed such efforts. There was just
one exception: Gen. Dayan, as
Chief of Staff (while Shimon Peres
served as Deputy Minister of De-
'ense) maintained that it was not
he task of the army to worry
bout bookkeeping, purchases and
ther bureaucratic matters. The
army should concentrate on train-
ing soldiers to fight and use their
weapons. This was during the time
when Egyptian-trained F e d a yin
marauders waged an undeclared
War against border settlements in
Israel, and Gen. Dayan was pre-
paring his men for the Sinai cam-
paign. But when things returned
again to normal, and Gen. Dayan
was succeeded by another Chief
of Staff, the struggle between civi-
lians and soldiers resumed again.
The paradox of the situation is
that now, when the struggle broke
into the open, there is a curious
mixup of the traditional roles. The
director general of the Ministry of
Defense (and as such its 'chief
executive officer) comes froni the
military. He is Brig. Kashti, a for-
mer professional soldier who still
holds his former rank as a reserve
officer. On the other hand, the
chief proponent of the reorganiza-
tion which should give the Defense
Forces much of what they sought
in vain from the Ministry of De-

fense In the past, is a civilian with
no ties to the military. He is Dr.
Zvi Dienstein, an economist, one
of Eshkol's most trusted men and
former director general of the Min-
istry of Finance.
Dr. Dienstein approached the is-
sue from the point of economies.
Studying the administrative budgets
of both the Defense Forces and
of the Ministry of Defense, he cal-
culated that savings in many mil-
lions could be achieved by trans-
ferring the draft and recruitment,
weapons procurement and premili-
tary youth training services to the
Defense Forces. Some observers
question whether the savings would
be really as substantial as Dr. Dien-
stein's calculations indicate. The
prime objections to his plans, how-
ever, stem from the concern over

giving up so much of the civilian
control over the military.
For the time being, the Cabinet
approved only the transfer of the
draft office from the Ministry to
the Defense Forces. But with Dr.
Dienstein at the helm of the Min-
istry, the chances of the military
are now better than ever.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Friday, August 26, 1966-3

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