Soldiers under the command of an officer who refused an order to waken them on insufficient sleep to participate in the next drill have protested the decision to remove him by requesting transfer to a different unit, Ynet reported on Tuesday.
So far more than 10 soldiers have asked to be transferred, and more are expected to join them.
Maj. (res.) Manny Eitan refused to wake his soldiers in the middle of the night out of a concern that lack of rest would lead to injuries and accidents. The IDF removed Eitan from command, saying that such leniency could undermine combat readiness, though it praised his military service overall.
Eitan defended his decision: “It’s not a crisis about some kind of issue where the men are being spoiled. We are talking about managing safety.”
Rubi Hazoni, a platoon commander in Eitan’s company said that “in previous exercises, at the end of 2016, we had a battalion exercise at night. Nobody worried that the men sleep six hours; we got three hours of sleep and two soldiers fell asleep behind the wheel on the way home. One of the men totaled their vehicle and the other woke up before ramming into the guard rail. As a result of that, there was a decision to put an emphasis on sleep before soldiers go home.”
Asaf Azulay, another commander in the unit, explained that lack of concern for safety impinges on morale: “They don’t feel safe with the decisions that the brigade commander is making. When you think about it, these [reserve soldiers] are civilians who are leaving their regular lives and the minimum they expect is that someone will have their backs and take care of them at the moment of truth.”
In response, the IDF said, “The decision to terminate the position of the company commander after he refused the order was taken seriously and from a moral and command perspective. There is no place in the IDF for refusing an order (such as the one refused).”