The defense forces of Israel began with the voluntary defense forces (principally the Haganah) created by the Jewish community in Palestine during the British mandate. Today Jewish and Druze men between the ages of 18 and 26 are conscripted for 36 and 24 months, respectively. Drafted Jewish women are trained for noncombat duties. Christians and Muslims may serve on a voluntary basis, but Muslims are rarely allowed to bear arms. All men and unmarried women serve in the reserves until the ages of 54 and 24, respectively. Men receive annual combat training until age 45.
In 2002, the Israeli army had 120,000 active duty soldiers and could mobilize as many as 530,000 more soldiers. Armaments included 3,750 main battle tanks. The navy had 6,500 regulars and 11,500 reservists; vessels included 3 submarines and 48 patrol and coastal combatants. The air force had 35,000 regulars, and 57,000 reserves. There were 454 functional combat aircraft, with 250 aircraft in reserve, and 135 armed helicopters. It is believed that Israel maintains a nuclear arsenal of more than 100 weapons. The reserve forces can be effectively mobilized in 48–72 hours. In addition, there are 8,050 paramilitary border police. The Ministry of Defense's expenditure was $8.9 billion in 2001 or 8% of GDP.