As part of the IDF’s preparations to meet the challenges of the 21st century, a number of farsweeping organizational changes in the IDF and the General Staff were decided upon.
These changes will streamline structure and increase the effectiveness of IDF operations, training, force build-up and combat support.
The changes include the establishment of a new General Staff Directorate, the Operations Directorate (J-3) headed by a Major General, and the cancellation of the position of Assistant Chief of the General Staff Directorate.
Units that had been directly subordinate to the Chief of Staff and had not been headed by a Major General, are now placed under a relevant General Staff Directorate. Thus the heads of the directorates, the services, and the commands report directly to the Chief of Staff, making for a more compact span of control.
The Vice Chief of Staff continues to serve as the head of the General Staff Directorate, and has overall responsibility for the Operations Directorate, the Plans and Policy Directorate (J-5), and the Training and Doctrine Division. In addition, he is responsible for the military aspects of the Research and Development Department. This department is similar in status to that of the Financial Advisor to the Chief of Staff, who is under military command, but is also an integral part of the civilian Ministry of Defense. Though the above mentioned bodies are under the administrative responsibility of the Vice Chief of Staff, the heads of the Directorates will remain directly subordinate to the Chief of Staff, and are members of the General Staff Forum.
Every corps is subordinate to a given General Staff Directorate. Thus, the Signals, Electronics and Computers Corps, and the Medical Corps are under the authority of the Technology and Logistics Directorate (J-4). This union which creates in effect a “Combat Service Support Directorate”, assigns the Technology and Logistics Directorate the responsibility for all combat service support functions, inasmuch as the Ordnance, Logistics, Signals, and Medical Corps all offer combat service support.
The Chief Chaplain remains independent, but is coordinated with the Personnel Directorate (J-1), as is the Military Courts Unit.
The new Operations Directorate (J-3) includes the Operations Division, the Command, Control, Communications,and Computers Division (C4) (detached from the Signals, Electronics and Computers Corps) the IDF Spokesperson’s Division, the Audit Department, and the Operations Safety Department.
In addition, a new division has been established, the External Relations Division, which combines under one command all IDF units which deal with foreign affairs. The External Relations Division is comprised of the former Liaison Unit for Foreign Forces (which liaises with UNIFIL, UNTSO, UNDOF, MFO as well as with the Egyptian and Jordanian Armed Forces), the Foreign Liaison Offices (which is responsible for liaising with the foreign military attaches in Israel and with Israeli military attaches abroad) and the IDF Red Cross Liaison Officer.
A new Military Academy will be added to the Military Colleges. The Academy will grant a Bachelor’s Degree to promising young combat officers. Graduates will continue to serve in command positions in combat units, following the completion of their studies at the Academy.
The responsibilities of the Ground Corps Command were redefined, and on 29 June 1999 they became an Army Headquarters responsible for build-up of all ground forces. In contrast to the Navy and the Air Force which train and operate their personnel, the new Army Headquarters is responsible solely for all aspects of training and build-up. The Territorial Commands will operate the ground forces. There are no longer independent brigades directly subordinate to the GOC of the territorial command to which they belong. Instead they are part of a division in the command. The new Army Headquarters which replaces the Ground Corps Command (established in the early 80’s) deals with all matters related to force build-up (including logistics and budget).
The Operations Directorate (J-3)
This new Directorate which was officially established on 29 June 1999, is responsible for operating IDF forces via the various headquarters, triservices, and territorial commands.
This Directorate coordinates staff work with the combat arms (the Commands and Services), integrates Intelligence into operational activity, and formulates IDF recommendations that are brought to the political echelon for approval.
This Directorate is also responsible for force build-up, combat readiness, drawing up of operational plans, and formulating IDF safety policy, as well as force security and operations security.
The Operations Directorate is further responsible for IDF external relations, informing the Israeli and foreign publics about the IDF, and for matters concerning computerization command, and control among military bodies.