There is no systematic procedure for promoting IDF officers to the rank of
major-general, the reservoir of officers from which all senior army commanders
are chosen, and the choices, for the main part, depend on the personal relations
between the chief of General Staff and the defense minister, State Comptroller
Micha Lindenstrauss wrote in a report released on Tuesday.
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comes on the eve of a major reshuffle of the General Staff, following Defense
Minister Ehud Barak’s nomination of Maj.-Gen.Yoav Galant as the next
chief of General Staff, and the expected retirement of several senior generals
and the appointment of their replacements.
Barak has already made it
clear that he will take a dominant role in making the new
By law, the chief of General Staff is the one who
recommends appointments to the General Staff (which includes automatic promotion
to the rank of major-general) and the defense minister approves the
appointments. But, according to the report, in practice, there is no fixed
process for deciding who will get these promotions.
“The procedure for
appointing officers to jobs carrying the rank of major-general is nothing but a
bargaining process: between the chief of staff and the minister of defense,” the
“This so-called procedure is not based on any
framework, has no rules or regulations, is not clearly based on written material
or documents, is not documented and, for the main part, is dependent on the
relations existing between the chief of General Staff and the defense
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“This is not the right way to conduct the process,” continued
Lindenstrauss, even though he added that some of the defense ministers and
chiefs of General Staff that he interviewed – including the current defense
minister – disagreed with him.
“It is very important to institutionalize
and develop clear rules for appointing majorgenerals.
In this context,
criteria for appointing major-generals should be established, while leaving
enough flexibility and freedom to the decision- makers,” he wrote.
also necessary to reach a regulated understanding on the question of the degree
to which the defense minister may intervene in the process of appointing certain
members of the General Staff, rather than just approving their appointments and,
if necessary, to bring this matter to the government.”
As noted, not
everyone agreed with Lindenstrauss.
The list of those who argue that no
criteria should be fixed includes Barak and former defense ministers Shaul
Mofaz, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and Moshe Arens. Former chief of General Staff Amnon
Lipkin-Shahak also concurred.
According to Barak, the chief of General
Staff should not be able to do anything he pleases. Furthermore, to begin with,
there is a significant degree of agreement among the senior army brass as to who
should be promoted to major-general.
Chief of General Staff Lt.- Gen.
Gabi Ashkenazi, on the other hand, said he believed fixed criteria were
necessary and that he intended to establish some during his term in
Another question arose when Barak insisted that the defense
minister should have a greater say in some General Staff appointments. These
included the co-coordinator of activities in the territories and the president
of the military court of appeals; key positions such as the deputy chief of
staff and the chief of the Intelligence Branch; the head of the air force and
some of the district command heads.
He told Lindenstrauss the government
should consider allowing him to propose candidates for these positions and have
a say regarding when their terms should expire. Lindenstrauss supported these
Since the law empowers the defense minister to approve or reject
the chief of General Staff’s recommendations for promotions to major-general,
the state comptroller investigated how well informed they were about the
candidates so they could fulfill this responsibility.
His conclusion was
that they lacked independent means to assess the qualifications of the various
Furthermore, the discussions between the defense minister and
the chief of General Staff leading to such promotions are not transparent or
From interviews with Barak, Ashkenazi and their predecessors,
Lindenstrauss learned that some opposed the move of recording these discussions
while others supported it. He himself concluded that the documentation was
In the first half of the report, Lindenstrauss examined the
procedures for appointing lieutenant-colonels, colonels and brigadier-generals.
Here he found that there was a structured procedure and defined criteria for
making these appointments and that since the Second Lebanon War, under
Ashkenazi’s watch, the army’s adherence to these arrangements had
Nevertheless, the state comptroller found many occasions in
which the written procedures were ignored.
For example, the minimum
amount of time that a lieutenant- colonel must serve at that rank before being
considered for promotion is 24 months. Nevertheless, the state comptroller found
that 63 percent of those promoted to colonel did not complete the minimum term
at the lower rank.
The state comptroller also found that many officers
did not fulfill some of the requirements of the jobs and ranks they were given.
For example, 24% of the candidates considered to fill positions at the rank of
lieutenant-colonel did not fulfill the education or military experience
Eight of them were promoted nonetheless.
acknowledging that a structure for appointments to the senior ranks below
majorgenerals existed and that the observance of this structure had improved
after the Second Lebanon War, Lindenstrauss concluded that “the results of the
investigation point to failure to observe some of the criteria established by
the IDF as a condition for receiving appointments… This situation does not jibe
with the aim of appointing officers who have the necessary experience and
know-how to satisfactorily carry out their tasks.
“The IDF must make
certain that the development of the officer staff, and the characteristics of
service, allow it to meet the criteria established as a condition for
appointment to these jobs.”
In its response to the report, the IDF
Spokesman said most of the comptroller’s comments on the appointments of senior
officers were based on the findings of his initial investigation in
Since then, the army had begun preparing a “project for the
promotion of the officer staff” in which all General Staff orders were being
updated, including those related to the promotion and training of the senior
officer staff. The state comptroller’s comments from the initial investigation
had been taken into account in this work, the IDF Spokesman said.
spokesman also replied to the comptroller’s specific criticism that officers
were promoted even though some had not completed the minimal time in their
previous rank. He said the army had amended this regulation to specifically
permit the premature advancement of veteran and experienced officers who met all
the other criteria for advancement.
Regarding the comptroller’s criticism
of the lack of fixed criteria for promoting officers to the rank of
major-general, the spokesman wrote, “The IDF intends to formally establish
certain parameters, including age, training, number of positions held,
[academic] degrees and personal profile. The regulation will be presented to the
defense minister for his comments.”Yaakov Katz contributed to this
Galant appt. on verge of approval
Defense Minister Ehud Barak
will bring the appointment of OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant
position of IDF chief of general staff to the cabinet on Sunday after
general was approved for the top post by the Turkel Commission which
Galant will take up the post in February after current
Chief of General Staff Lt.- Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi steps down following
in the post.
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