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The Youth Corps (Gdudei Noar--Gadna), another IDF "functional command," consisted in 1988 of more than 30,000 young men and women aged fourteen to seventeen, who were formed into battalions, each under the command of an IDF captain. One of numerous youth groups, Gadna was administered by the Ministry of Education and Culture, with IDF officers serving as advisers to the ministry. Obligatory for most secondary-school students, Gadna introduced them to the common Israeli experience of army life and indoctrinated them as to Israel's special security situation. Time spent in training increased from fifteen days yearly plus one hour per week during the ninth year of school to roughly forty days a year in the twelfth year of school. Over the years, its emphasis had shifted from weapons familiarity and drilling to sports, physical fitness, and camping. Gadna also participated in the socialization of recent immigrants and the rehabilitation of juvenile delinquents to qualify them for military service. It had not been mobilized for military tasks since the War of Independence in 1948, although Gadna members had performed support services during later emergencies.

Data as of December 1988