Fearing dismissal: Military professionals are recording conversations with their commanders

"Fire a man with your capabilities? God forbid!" – or so an IDF commander told a non commissioned officer who was later fired. In an appeal against his dismissal, the officer presented the recording of their conversation. The IDF is enraged: "This is an illegitimate phenomenon and it must be stopped"

The IDF has dismissed many non commissioned officers and thousands more are expected to join their ranks, and the issue of budgetary cut-backs has had grave repercussions for trust between the military professionals who have kept their jobs and those who are facing dismissal. 

This new situation has caused certain army men to record personal conversations with their commanding officers without the latter's' knowledge, so that if they ever face dismissal – they could make use of the recordings to prove the lack of justified cause.

The IDF has established internal mechanisms of appeal against dismissal but the majority of those fired do not succeed in their struggle to oppose the decision. The appeals committee recently tackled this issue in the case of an appeal by an IAF officer who cited a transcript of a recording he had made of senior commander in his unit, who stated: "Firing someone with your capabilities? God Forbid! Why are so many men being fired? And why would your name come up as a potential candidate?"

A decision by the committee stated: "The behavior we have learned of -- soldiers recording their commanders without the latter's' knowledge in order to then make use of their statements in legal proceedings -- is wrong and indicates a measure of dishonesty. Trust between soldiers, regardless of status or rank – requires an open and free discourse without "the terror of the records"."

Att. Shlomo Tzipori

A military official who is familiar with the details says that the phenomenon must be stopped. "We can't have commanders who are scared to talk to their soldiers for fear of being recorded. This is unethical and wrong. The soldiers must believe we are doing everything we can so they can keep their jobs and that such actions will not lead anywhere."

Att. Shlomo Tzipori, a military law expert, notes that the phenomenon is much more widespread than expected: "I am constantly amazed at how widespread and commonplace  this phenomenon is amongst military professionals due to their lack of job security. Arbitrary dismissals have caused many officers who seemingly have no reason to be worried by dismissal – to keep recording of their commanders for a rainy day."

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