The time of falling generals

Monday, November 13, 2006 |  by Staff Writer

Although the war in Lebanon has been over for more than three months now, it seems that the fighting is just beginning. These are not battles against Hizballah, but rather battles of top officers for their own survival. The officers who had commanded the troops during the war, are now in an all out battle to save their reputation, their job, and their future. The time where reports, inquiries, probes, and investigations start to be published, is the time where top officers begin to lose their jobs.

The first “victim” of this kind was Brig.-General Gal Hirsch who commanded the 91st Division, also dubbed the “Galilee Division”, which bore the brunt of the fighting during the war.

A report published on Sunday by Maj.-General (Res.) Doron Almog (photo), who investigated the July 12 kidnapping incident which triggered the war, reveals great failures in the command of the Galilee Division before, during, and after the incident and places the responsibility right in the lap of General Hirsch.

Almog indicated in his report that there is no doubt that the kidnapping could have been avoided, and compared the findings with lessons learned from the Mt. Dov kidnapping in October 2000. Almog emphasized the gaps between the threat and the preparations, as well as the gaps between orders and the execution. "Out of the tape of the radio communications, it seems as though the patrol that day was out on a day trip rather than on an operative mission,” he said.

Hirsch, for his part, did not wait for the damning report to be published, and handed in his resignation to Chief of Staff Halutz Sunday morning, saying that throughout this time, he did not receive any backing from the top command, adding that "this is not the way to treat a commander,"

Despite the serious findings and harsh words of Almog’s report, it was the reservists from the battalion who took part in the incident who criticize the report for blaming the lower levels of the command, and not laying the responsibility at the doorstep of the upper IDF command. They also criticized Hirsch for resigning without taking responsibility.

“The division commander didn't take responsibility, but rather resigned and said that his superiors are to blame," said Tomer Weinberg who served in the battalion and was severely injured during the kidnapping incident where Eldad Regav and Ehud Goldwasser were taken.

But it is not only the commanders in the Galilee Division which have to start worrying. The recent round of promotions and movements among top officers in the IDF has also been placed on hold by Defense Minister Peretz until the results of all IDF inquiries have been completed.

The first top officer to announce his retirement was Maj.-General Udi Adam who served as the Head of the IDF’s Northern Command and the de facto commander of the war. From the very beginning of the war, when it was apparent to some in the top command of the army that things were not going the way they should in the battlefield, Chief of Staff Dan Halutz “dropped” his deputy Maj.-General Moshe Kaplinski into Adam’s Northern Command and effectively took over the management of the war.

Although the effectiveness of this move could be argued for better or worse, one thing is certain: Adam did not like that one bit. As far as Adam was concerned, and despite his “business as usual” demeanor during the war, he would not stand for it. And so, it didn’t take long for Adam to understand that this vote of non-confidence in him and his performance was a signal he should leave. And so he did, at the earliest possible convenience.

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