Wednesday, May 09, 2007

IDF Recognizes Contributions of Reservist Officers

By Bar Ben-Ari - IDF

A festive ceremony honoring the Reserve Corps commanders from the ranks of company commander and upwards was held in the presence of Defense Minister, Mr. Amir Perez; the Chief of General Staff, Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi; and the Chief Reserve Officer, Brigadier General Danny Van Biren.

Brigadier General Van Biren spoke during the ceremony, saying: "The foundations for a reserve system were laid following the end of the War of independence. During meetings held to discuss the new corps, Ben-Gurion remarked: 'Through these two things- the training of the army for efficient defense and the provision of modern training and equipment- we will ensure the security of the State of Israel."

"Fifty-eight years later," Brigadier General Van Biren continued, "it seems to me that after the second Lebanon war, we have returned to the same basic conclusion- with some minor differences. Following the war we rebuilt the reserve system, which is vital for the security of the state of Israel, so that it can be the best trained and best equipped, with modern and high quality equipment. We did not need to be reminded that the men of the IDF Reserve Corps are imbued with high levels of motivation, and take on every challenge they are faced with."

The Chief of General Staff, Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi, then spoke, commenting on the previous war. "The high rate of reservists who report for duty- even those who aren?t called up for duty- the courage, responsibility, professionalism, dedication to the mission, a fighting ability which was demonstrated and exemplified by the reserve units, once again highlighted the Corps' importance. It is the central element in the IDF's might." The Chief of General Staff continued, directing his words to the spouses of the commanders. "We owe you a few words of thanks as well." This was received with loud and enthusiastic applause from the audience.

Coming soon: A revolution in the reserve service system

In an interview this week with the IDF's official website, Brigadier General Van Biren told of the legislative changes being mulled which will completely change the face of the reserve system. "We changed the specifics of the law so that the reserve system will only partake in emergency missions and necessary operations.

We don't want to send reservists out on useless missions. Reservists no longer have to guard settlements, there will be no more guarding of towns, reservists won't be called up for guarding communities, shooting ranges, and bases. We canceled all these things."

The ceremony took place one night before the Knesset will convene to discuss the major changes to the law. Regarding these changes, the Chief Reserve Officer remarked: "There is a small group in the IDF that carries a large load. We as a country and a national army have a duty to envelop those who carry this heavy burden, and to prevent their load from getting heavier. I believe that the laws regarding the reserves being legislated by the Knesset will implement this principle," he concluded.


Giving the Reservists Their Due

By Adir Mor - IDF

"Each and every one of you has your own story of excellence," said Chief of General Staff Gabi Ashkenazi during a ceremony on Sunday honoring outstanding reservists. "All of you are proof that excellence is not a solitary deed, but rather one which in most cases represents a way of life. As a result, your excellence is a source of inspiration and a model to IDF soldiers in conscriptive duty, in the reserves, and to the entire people of Israel."

Forty-one reservists who serve in a range of IDF units and their families were honored at the Command and Staff Base in Glilot. The reservists received citations of excellence and a special pin for outstanding soldiers, symbols of recognition for their service in the reserves. The veteran reservists, who stood on the stage overcome with emotion just prior to shaking hands with the Chief of Staff, were feted by the IDF orchestra and gathered for a group picture with all members of the IDF General Staff forum.

The reservists who received citations of excellence in a group photo with members of the IDF General Staff forum.

"I hope that I act as a glue between the values of the army and the soldiers and commanders and try to serve as an example," said Captain (res.) Ben Ziyon Sharabi, a maintenance officer in the Artillery Corps' "David" battalion. Sharabi, who received the citation for the third time during his service, added: "I've been volunteering for reserve duty for 15 years, and even though I wasn't called up on Order 8, I report almost every day to the unit because I feel an obligation toward the soldiers."

Lieutenant Colonel Gilad, Sharabi's commander in the battalion, believes that he is deserving of the citation of excellence. "Sharabi is a terrific guy who does everything from the heart, it's a very important thing and there aren't many like him," Lieutenant Colonel Gilad said. "I learn much from him when it comes to love for the army and behaving according to one's values. It's a privilege working with people like him, because he and the rest of the veteran reservists represent the spirit of the IDF."

"I see the reserves in relation to the state," Sharabi said. "I see the state and I understand the importance and the need for reservists imbued with motivation, because we have no other country. I hope that the moment I won't be able to volunteer, the young people will understand the importance of rallying to the flag. I feel terrific when people know to thank me for what I did and appreciate what I contributed - it's very sweet, very pleasant."


Ten Corporations Receive Reserve Shield Award

Ten leading Israeli corporations received the "Shield of the Reserves" award from the Chief of General Staff on National Reserve Day (Monday).

The awards were granted to companies employing citizens who serve as reservists in the IDF. The ceremony took place in the "Kirya" military base in Tel Aviv, in the presence of the Minister of Defense, Mr. Amir Peretz, the Chief of General Staff Major General Gabi Ashkenazi, and the Chief Reservist Officer, Brigadier General Danny Van Biren.

The ten companies were chosen by a committee headed by Beni Gaon, an Israeli businessman. Dozens of companies applied for the award. The companies were chosen from three major categories: those employing over 100 people such as Motorola and the "Meitav" corporation, less than 100, and less than 30.

"The obligation to the state does not fall solely on the shoulders of civilians; the corporations have a civil obligation as well. Their obligation is more demanding than that expected from individual citizens," said the Vice Chairman of Motorola, Mr. Yehuda Porat. He added, "I think that we need to educate our administrators and employees to support us on this issue. Additionally, I must note that the best of our employees still serve as reservists. Among them are pilots, commanders, Company Commanders, and combat soldiers. We must share these people, because there will always be a demand for them."

In December of 2004, the Corporal Declaration of Assistance for employees serving in the reservist corps of the IDF was signed. This Declaration was the initial embodiment of the joint operation between the main corporations in the Israeli economy and the security services.

"In accordance with the Declaration, the corporations have taken a number of responsibilities upon themselves. Mainly, they agree to uphold the rights of the employees serving as reservists in the IDF, and to encourage reservist service," said the Chief Reservist Officer in his speech. "The declaration and the spirit it dictates has lead to a different approach in the corporate sector. This can be seen in the decreasing number of complaints which were made by soldiers who were fired due to their service in the reserves; from 271 in 2003, to only 39 last year.

The reality is still far from ideal, and we still bear witness to a condescending perception of those who serve in the reservist corps."