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Five days into the 1973 Yom Kippur War, chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. David "Dado" Elazar decided to replace OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Shmuel "Gorodish" Gonen with former chief of General Staff Haim Bar-Lev. The decision was reported to have been made as a result of Gonen's poor response to the Egyptian attack and his actions in the first days of fighting.
OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Udi Adam has not been dismissed from his position and was told Tuesday that he would continue directing the current war in Lebanon. Nonetheless, Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz's decision to appoint his own deputy, Maj.-Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky, as his personal representative in the Northern Command for the duration of the war brought back memories of the Gorodish affair for many officers. Adam, unlike Gorodish, is keeping his post, but from now on comes under Kaplinsky's careful watch.
Since the beginning of Operation Change of Direction, politicians and generals have been complaining about its slow pace. The blame has been leveled in different directions - sometimes at Adam, who has been said to be hesitant about sending ground forces into Lebanon - and other times at Halutz - who as an air force pilot has been said to lack the necessary acumen when it comes to fighting a war or even a small-scale infantry and tank battle on the ground.
There is no question that there have been mishaps. The cross-border attack which sparked the hostilities took the IDF completely by surprise. Adam admitted the day of the kidnapping that Northern Command had, only two days earlier, lowered its level of alert. And Halutz said in a televised interview on Saturday night that the day before the kidnapping he had called a hotel in the North to make a reservation for a planned family vacation. In other words - no one, not Halutz or Adam - had even the slightest clue that Israel was about to be attacked.
But complaints about the pace of the operation might more appropriately be directed at Halutz, not Adam. The operational plan being used by Northern Command was not created by Adam but by the General Staff. In addition, the reluctance to launch a ground offensive in Lebanon was not just Adam's but that of the entire General Staff, which practically laughed at the ground offensive plan with which it was presented the day the war erupted, opting instead for a massive air offensive which proven to be much less successful than had been hoped. The political leadership, it should be added, also did not demand a ground operation in those early days.
The drastic decision to chop away at Adam's authority with the appointment of Kaplinsky - and the attendant publicity and impression of failure, at home and beyond - suggests that Halutz felt he had no alternative. The Halutz-Adam relationship must have become acutely problematic. Otherwise, try explaining to the tens of thousands of troops, right now awaiting orders to enter Lebanon at profound risk their lives, why their commander has now been allocated a babysitter.
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