Using an unusually tough tone, Defense Minister Ehud Barak criticized the IDF's performance during the Second Lebanon War on Tuesday in his first public response to the Winograd Report, declaring that unlike in the 2006 conflict, the IDF would complete its missions even at the cost of heavy casualties.
In the Winograd Report, released last week, the war panel complimented IDF troops for fighting courageously against Hizbullah, but also found many cases in which the values of dedication to a mission and striving for victory were abandoned.
Some of the examples included commanders who decided to abort or postpone missions due to less-than-optimal weather conditions, and troops who, instead of striving for engagement with the enemy, spent their time evacuating wounded - a mission assigned to medical teams deployed just behind the front lines.
On Tuesday, Barak said such incidents would not repeat themselves.
"Nothing will stop a mission until it is completed," Barak told a crowd of over 1,000 soldiers and officers during the IDF's annual Joint Forces Exercise at the Shizafon Base near Eilat. "There will be no explanations or stories, and nothing will stop a unit that is in combat."
During the exercise, attended by foreign military attachÃ©s to Israel as well as bereaved families, the IDF displayed some of its most advanced fighting capabilities in an exercise aimed at preparing for war with Syria.
F-16 fighter jets, Cobra attack helicopters, Merkava MkIV tanks, artillery batteries, snipers, Engineering Corps units and infantry crews participated in the drill, which was supervised by Deputy Chief of General Staff Maj.-Gen. Dan Harel as well as OC Ground Forces Command Maj.-Gen. Avi Mizrahi.
Speaking to the audience, which included several hundred cadets scheduled to graduate from the Officer's Training School in two weeks, Harel said there was no replacement for the IDF's ground power.
In the Winograd Report, the IDF top brass was slammed for adopting a misconception that the Air Force, as well as other standoff capabilities, could neutralize Hizbullah's Katyusha rocket-launching capabilities during the Second Lebanon War.
"There is no replacement for controlling the territory in order to achieve our operational goals," the deputy army chief said. "This is true in the North, the South and in the Center of the country."