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The Swiss Armed Forces as a Model for the IDF Reserve System—Indeed?


Among military personnel who were present at the birth of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and among researchers, there is a widespread opinion that the influence of the Swiss armed forces can be seen in the system according to which the IDF was constructed after the War of Independence. That is, armed forces based on the model of a militia. A comparison between the IDF and the Swiss armed forces reveals that in Israel, as in Switzerland, the concept of a fighting nation was adopted; that is, universal conscription to compulsory service and the obligation of reserve duty for discharged soldiers, and that it is indeed possible to identify the influence of Swiss military organization in the organizational contours of the reserve service within the IDF. But a fundamental difference can be seen between the two armed forces. In contrast to the militia-type armed forces in Switzerland, the IDF was structured as a small regular army that included regular combat units as well as reserve forces comprising most of the ground forces. This difference between the IDF and the Swiss armed forces is rooted in Israel's geostrategic circumstances, the military threats it faces, and its need to ensure wide security margins, that is, an appropriate level of readiness and preparedness.

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