The other day it was reported in the Times of Israel that 4 weapons were stolen from an IDF base called Camp Naftali. The robbers tied up a soldier, took his weapon and three more before making their getaway in the dead of night.

The truly surprising thing about this theft is not the brazen way that the crooks entered the base but that it doesn’t happen more often. If we’re being honest the vast majority of IDF bases aren’t particularly well defended. While the bases that are actually defending the borders are very well protected, by soldiers who are well trained and know what they’re doing, there are a massive number of bases in the interior of the country that are staffed by units who don’t have a combat oriented role or a sense of urgency when it comes to guard duty.

In fact the soldiers who are tasked with guarding many of the bases in the interior have gone through about 4 weeks basic training and happen to have pulled a guard shift in addition to their regular duties or they are soldiers who spend around 4 days in the army and another week off and tend to be there because the army isn’t sure what else to do with them.

A spot check on many of these soldiers would likely as not find that their weapons have not been cleaned recently and are therefore liable to jam and that their equipment isn’t up to par. This is the reality of having a conscript army, not everyone is highly motivated to serve. In fact weapons theft from the IDF isn’t a new phenomenon, Haaretz reported that;

“In 2011, 80 IDF weapons were stolen, in 2010, 137 weapons were stolen and in 2009, 145 were stolen.”

At the heart of the matter isn’t so much the theft but the fact that criminals find it so easy to steal weapons and the reason goes back to an ideology at the heart of the IDF. The idea of having a nation in arms and that we everyone would be tasked with defending the country should there be a need to is at the core of the IDF and goes back to the days of the frontier kibbutz, but those days are long gone. The fact that the IDF has been arming soldiers whose role is not to fire at the enemy in anger has ensured that there are a great deal more weapons in circulation than is necessary for the actual defence of the realm.

By changing the way weapons are distributed the army can cut down on the risk of some of those weapons eventually being used against us. Those soldiers whose weapon is a laptop or a pair of headphones, or who teach deprived kids shouldn’t have to be responsible for a weapon that they aren’t expected to use and are only given minimal training in.