After the end of this round of the Second Lebanon War, the Israeli newspapers are full of revelations and protests about the foul-ups in IDF. There are even calls for the current leaders to go home (but who can replace them in the helm?).
During the last few years, the defense budget was cut several times. There are several important programs, which were delayed or canceled due to the budgetary cuts. I “wonder” why the Arabs considered those cuts to be signs of weakness, rather than as indication of wishing to have peace. Those budgetary cuts were very popular among those, who wanted to emphasize economic development, social welfare and education. And if our neighbors were really peace lovers, they would have been right.
My conclusion from juxtaposition of the above two facts (and from another observation of the consequences of budget de-prioritization and cutting in other places) – is that if you cut the budget of an operation, the operation loses not only what it could do with the missing budget. This loss is a calculated risk, because you figure out that the money had better be spent somewhere else than on this operation.
However, the operation loses also its best people. The top people like to work on challenging problems, on pushing forward the envelope, on overcoming challenges. They do not like to struggle to solve problems caused solely due to budget cuts. This kind of drudgery drives them out.
Then few years later, it is found that the operation has deteriorated and no longer delivers a value for the money still budgeted for it.
Moral: managers need a better way to divert funds to other operations.
Maybe David Ben-Gurion had after all the right idea when he decreed that IDF, as the people’s army, do also various civilian projects, such as building settlements (NAHA”L), sending soldiers to educate illiterate people, and the like. This was a way to have the smart people in IDF continue to do challenging projects, and not feel the pain of budget cuts – yet to cut budgets to operations, which were no longer as essential as they were, once the War of Independence was over.
Another example – the practice of well-managed Hi-Tech companies not to lay off employees when business becomes slow. They transfer those employees to other projects, whose future is better.