What it takes to be an IDF officer

Becoming an officer in the IDF is no easy task, and it starts long before officers course begins. The path to officership is challenging, but if cadets work hard, they can make it to the very top.

What is an officer?

As a former commander of the Officers Training School, Col. Yaniv Alalouf said, “An officer is a person who has a sense of obligation and responsibility to Israel and its civilians. [An officer is] a responsible person who acts out of a sense of mission and professional pride, a role model in society, able to make decisions under pressure with courage, professional judgment, and command.”

By definition, an officer is someone who commands a group of soldiers at the platoon level or above. But it’s more than just giving orders: commanding soldiers means teaching them, disciplining them when needed, and making sure their personal lives are in order. In some cases, officers will even visit their soldiers’ homes to make sure that everything is in order.

Where it all begins

It all starts at the recruits’ first call-up, where soldiers are tested to gauge their abilities and determine their best placement. Those who do well on these tests can move on to officers course. This isn’t all it takes; getting to officers course requires hard work and skill.

Israelis enlist at age 18, and as they go through their training and service, they gain skills and experience that they previously lacked. This means that while someone might not have succeeded on their initial entry tests, they can still have a chance to become an officer if they work hard enough and show that they are committed to their position. If they’ve proved themselves, their officers may grant their request.

The course itself

Once cadets are accepted to the course, the real work begins. The officers course takes place at the IDF Officers Training School, or Bahad 1, which is in Mitzpe Ramon, in southern Israel. During their time in the course, they learn the values of the IDF, leadership, professional skills, and proper conduct, all of which are vital to their position as officers.

The IDF Officers Training School offers a wide variety of courses, specifically catered to combat, combat support, and non-combat cadets. These position-specific courses further prepare cadets for their respective positions and are designed to give each cadet what they need to be the best officer that they can be.

After about three months of learning, training, and hard work, the cadets receive their official pins on their lapels and are sent off to their units to complete their training, after which they officially become IDF officers.