Admitting there were major failures during the war in Lebanon, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz dispelled rumors of his imminent resignation on Tuesday and announced he planned to stay in his post to lead the military through the difficult process of post-war rehabilitation. He added, however, that if the government-appointed Winograd Committee recommended he resign, he would do so. Defense Minister Amir Peretz made a similar pledge this week. "I hadn't heard that my superiors were calling for me to go," Halutz told military correpondents at his first press conference in four months. "When they tell me so, I'll answer them."
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Halutz said that he had decided to "take responsibility" for the outcome of the war. But, he said, that did not mean he needed to step down.
"When I chose to take responsibility, I chose to take responsibility," Halutz said. "There are those who interpret responsibility as running away; I have decided to stay and deal with the investigations."
Halutz reviewed mistakes that occurred during last summer's fighting, noting that the IDF's failure to stop or even to minimize the daily Katyusha rocket attacks was the "No. 1 failure" of the war. Stopping Katyusha fire should have been defined as a primary goal, he said. In addition, orders should have been clearer and a broad-scale ground incursion should have been initiated earlier.
"We attacked the Katyushas [rockets], but unsuccessfully," he said, adding that one of the key achievements during the war was the success in destroying Hizbullah's medium and long-range rockets.
Halutz, in a professional tone, accepted personal responsibility for the war's errors in only one or two instances. Although he admitted that many of the different internal military inquiry committees' accusations were correct, he mainly assumed general responsibility as the IDF's head.
He said that the transmission of orders as well as the dialogue between the General Staff and the Northern Command was "not good", adding that orders were even in some cases unclear.
Some of the problems, according to Halutz, stemmed from circumstances outside the IDF's control.
"It is the nature of terror organizations to view the civilian home front as their target. In our case, the proximity of the home front to the military front forges civilians and soldiers into one continuum. Also, the terrorist's understanding of 'winning' as 'not losing' brings them to strive for ongoing attrition.
Therefore, we need to redefine the concept of defeating the enemy," he said. Halutz went on to address failures within the IDF system itself, emphasizing the issues of logistics, reserve force operation and training and intelligence.
"There were logistical errors. We knew about the lack of supplies and did not act quickly enough to replenish them. Also, during the war itself, logistical issues were dealt with inefficiently."
Halutz also revealed that there were cases when officers refused their orders in direct "contradiction of the army's basic values." He said a senior officer was suspended as a result.
"There were cases in which officers did not carry out their assignments, and cases in which officers objected on moral grounds to their orders," Halutz said, an apparent reference to resistance against attacking south Lebanese towns and villages.
Turning to his "work plan" for 2007, Halutz said that the primary goal was to provide answers and solutions to the main lessons learned from the 50 internal military probes that investigated the IDF's all-encompassing performance during the war. He said that the budgets of the Ground Forces Command as well as Military Intelligence would be considerably greater than the past year.
"We plan to beef up the ground forces by increasing training regiments that will be significantly increased by 40 percent," he said. "There is no doubt that a good level of intelligence is the basis for our operations and that is why we need to find intelligence."