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Apr 9, 2014

Beards and Earphones banned for soldiers in public

As an American who grew up in a major city, I don't think the sight of soldiers walking through the streets was common. We rarely saw soldiers around. But when we did, the soldiers always, with no exception, looked sharp, put together, clean.. In the movies as well, though not necessarily a indication of reality, soldiers are always clean and orderly, the US military is portrayed as strict on discipline and the appearance of its soldiers.
no more

When Americans come to Israel, a comment often heard is something to the effect of "these are Israel's soldiers?" with a tone of surprise and even a bit of condescension. Israeli soldiers often look a bit disheveled, sloppy, not crisp and not clean and orderly. Far less formal, is perhaps a better way to put it. The answer Israelis always give, when asked, is that Israel's army cares more about what is really important -being a good soldier, fighting, etc. than the crispiness of the uniform.

The IDF is taking another step toward that better appearance of a soldier. They have now announced that IDF soldiers, while in public in uniform, will not be allowed to:
1. randomly grow beards. beards for medical or religious reasons will still be allowed.
2. wear large earphones and headsets. Thin wire earphones with buds will still be allowed (including while traveling on buses).

They explain that many soldiers took advantage of the beard allowance, probably just because it was easier to not shave, but it causes a non-uniform look to the army...
source: Ynet and Bechadrei

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  1. Part of Israel's charm was its casual attitude. The idea that guys were still wearing open shirts with gold necklaces and talking about going to "the disco" well into the 90's, the idea that you could show up for a wedding in a nice shirt and khakhi pants, no tie and jacket required, all those made it special. These soliders are 19 year old kids. Let them relax when they're not on duty.

  2. With all due respect, Garnel, your comment reflects the attitude of someone who has never served. Military discipline is important. It serves a purpose, and can save lives in combat. The decline in discipline and training standards was painfully evident in the last Lebanon war. There has been a concerted effort to fix the problems that war brought to the surface. This is just one element.

  3. When a draft is mandatory you want to impose on those being forced to join as little as possible in the US if u dont want yo conform dont go to the army

  4. LTC, have you served? Certainly, we all know that on the job discipline is important, and the army does take soldier behaviour off base seriously, but frankly, only desk officers might wear dress 'uniform' (light green shirt) regularly, and the rest of enlisted and career soldiers are wearing a A version of their work/combat uniform. If the army really did care to show off being official, then all soldiers would get 'dress uniform' for their alephs.
    Given all that, when I was in the army, it was frowned upon to ear headphones of any kind because of the need to stay vigilant, but then again we were combat, and the headphone people are usually jobnikim.

  5. Yes. The LTC stands for lieutenant colonel. Combat veteran. And two sons in at the present.

  6. Israel's army Uniform has always been more relaxed than the US or other countries.
    Compare Israel's formal uniform to the US:


    Sometime's it's almost embarrassing when Israeli soldiers interact with their counterparts in the US, both wearing formal uniform, but with the Israeli soldiers look very under-dressed.

  7. I understand the uniform differences and lack of super formal attire in the IDF. It's not so much as WHAT the uniform is. It's far more important HOW that uniform is treated, how professional the soldier looks and whether he takes pride in his appearance. That carelessness often carries over into aspects of "soldiering" - be it tactical discipline or even care for weapons.

  8. I understand LTC's comments, but I don't entirely agree. There is a huge sociological difference between the civilian-military interface in Israel and most other countries. In most countries the military is a society apart in many ways; in Israel far less so.

    If anything, as an IDF infantry veteran of the 80s (Aug. 80-Feb. 89), I mourn the the slow, inexorable move to more formal appearance in the IDF. Discipline should come from training, experience, and preparedness; and its rigors should be the same for all ranks. Just the change in officer's uniforms (light shirts, etc.) marks a change in attitude that I think is not needed and probably not healthy. Look at old pictures of Raful sometime, whether at his desk or in the field. I believe our combat preparedness and successes in the 70s and 80s was due to our training and field discipline; not our appearance in the Central Bus Station. And discipline was always more apparent among the field units than jobniks, in any case.

  9. I don't disagree Mordechai. I think the discipline in the field, though, if done properly, carries over in all aspects.

    And keep in mind, that Raful Eitan insisted that berets be worn at all times. The beret in the epaulet "informality" was not allowed by him. He was known for reinstituting military discipline that had lapsed. The proper respect for the uniform was important to him.

    As a complete aside, it's ironic that no American soldier is allowed out of doors without a head covering - yet nowadays, in the Jewish army, the head covering has been dispensed with.


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