An IDF weapons cache.
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S OFFICE)
The military hit back at the damning report by IDF Ombudsman Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yitzhak Brick on Tuesday, saying that despite all their flaws the Ground Forces are ready and prepared for war.
“I stand by my word and I will bang my hand on the table. Brick is wrong. From the bottom of my heart, our army and our chief of staff don’t deserve this report,” a visibly emotional Col. (res.) Avi Mizrachi, who was tasked with assessing the ombudsman’s claims, told reporters. “Every army has gaps, even the American army, but the IDF gives everything it can to those who need it.”
The public spat between Brick and the military follows two extensive reports to top IDF brass and senior lawmakers about the issue. The ombudsman has also called on the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee to investigate the matter.
Brick, who is set to resign after 10 years in his position, has been increasingly warning about the military’s dire state.
His scathing June report to the cabinet and the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee – where he charged that the current situation in the IDF was “worse than it was at the time of the Yom Kippur War” in 1973 – was largely rejected by IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, who said the military is in a high state of readiness and preparedness for war.
“If we go to war tomorrow, we are ready. We aren’t in perfect shape, but we are ready,” a senior IDF officer in the Ground Forces said. “I wasn’t surprised by anything in Brick’s report. We are dealing with everything, but it takes time.”
In September, Eisenkot created a committee under IDF Comptroller Brig.-Gen. (res.) Ilan Harari, led by Mizrachi and made up of senior reserves officers.
“We deal with the IDF’s readiness every day,” Harari said. “It’s not something that one day we wake up and decide to deal with.”
While Eisenkot and the military publicly rejected Brick’s report, former defense minister Avigdor Liberman told a conference in late November that he had personally heard the army’s chief of staff admitting that “90% to 95%” of Brick’s criticism was correct.
According to Harari, there are “huge gaps” between what Brick’s report found in terms of the readiness of the Ground Forces and what his team found over the course of 45 days, which included 100 investigators and 220 meetings with officers in the Ground Forces.
“We found a significant improvement in the army’s competence and readiness for war as a result of the army’s Gideon Plan, which led to a change in the order of priorities,” he said, adding that “of course there are gaps; there are no arguments there.”
Harari pointed out six main gaps that echoed those found in Brick’s June report, including the cutting of thousands of career soldiers as well as the serious problems in logistics and keeping noncommissioned officers in the military. Harari also pointed out that there is a serious lack of doctors and a lack of quality training infrastructure.
According to Mizrachi, Brick’s report is “far from the real story,” as Eisenkot decided to place the readiness of the military as a top priority over investments into new technology, spending millions of shekels on improving the Ground Forces.
“I stand by this report. We found that the money spent was spent wisely and brought the Ground Forces to a whole new level. They are ready and prepared for war even with all the gaps,” he said. “If you think you don’t need Ground Forces to win a war then you don’t invest in them. But it is at the heart of the military and the chief of staff knows that.”
On Monday, Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Brick to discuss the criticism in the report, Haaretz reported. At the same time, Eisenkot received Harari’s report as well as another one by Mizrachi and Maj.-Gen. (res.) Doron Almog.
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