Israeli Defence Forces Question

I read in a book about the Six-Day War, which said that, (amongst the personnel in all branches of the Israeli Defence Forces), there is a great amount of informality between officers and enlisted personnel, specifically that there is no saluting and officers can be called by their first name by the enlisted personnel under their command. Is this still the case today??

Short version – To a large extent, yes.

Long version:
Saluting is pretty much reserved for formal settings. As an ex-HQ officer, I can confidently say that if you’re stepping in to your commanding officer’s office for a work-related meeting, you just step in and say “hi…”. If it’s a really big meeting with a big-wig (read: General) heading it, then the General will enter last and the rest of the participants will rise briefly and immediately be told to be seated – but this is already regarded as a formality.
An Enlisted person (non-NCO or Officer) is supposed to salute anyone from Lt. Col. and up on HQ base; strong emphasis on “supposed” – it’s on the rules, but it is pretty much obeyed only by the MP’s at the gate, and any officer who insisted on being saluted would be ridiculed as a pompous ass.
First-name basis? If you’re acquainted with a person well enough to feel comfortable calling them by their first name in a civilian setting, then you’ll probably call them by their first name in a[n] (Israeli) military setting, too…

In the field, I believe that things are even more so than in HQ; certainly things are far from the formal behavior one becomes accustomed from thinking of as “military” when watching American movies.

But (and we’ll need input from American military personnel here) – I wonder how much this “Formal Conduct” really exists in well-established U.S. field units? I will personally be surprised if it’s as formal as one may be led to believe, but I honestly have no idea.

Chiming in as an enlisted man (Noone Special’s an officer, right?), I’ll confirm that things get less formal the more combat-oriented a unit gets, and the more time it spends in the field. As an infantryman, I wouldn’t think of adressing my immediate superiors - captains and lieutenants - by anything other than their first names,* and I wouldn’t automatically salute anyone under general rank, although I’d act very busy if I saw a colonel wandering around. It’s not just saluting either. “Organic” units such as combat battalions always eat together, with officers and grunts sharing the same tables (although the CO gets a reserved seat - we have to have SOME standards), as well as sharing facilities such as showers and recreation rooms.

I think a lot of the IDF’s rather unique attitude comes from the fact that most officers (including all “ground” combat officers) rise up from the ranks, serving first as grunts and then as NCOs before going to the Israeli version of OCS.As I see it, this has two effects. First, it largly voids the “class difference” between enlisted and commissioned you see in most other armies - soldiers see their commanders as being just like them (which is also why an infantry officer will usually see himself as having much more in common with an infantry enlisted man than with, say, an artillary officer). Second, and seemingly paradoxially, enlisted men tend to have a lot more earned respect towards their COs than I see exists in other militaries. All those jokes about stupid, innocent, inexperienced “butterbars” I’ve seen here on this board - and elsewhere - would seem pretty incomprehensible in the IDF.