(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
While the Winograd Committee placed most of the blame for the failures of the Second Lebanon War on the army on Wednesday, there is no doubt that the military has already learned many of the necessary lessons and that the IDF of 2008 is not the same as the 2006 version.
Immediately following the war and under the direction of then-chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz, the army assembled 73 inquiry teams that investigated all of the war's operational aspects, from the soldiers on the ground to the commanders back at General Staff headquarters. Ten of the teams studied the General Staff, 23 probed the IDF's structure and 40 examined the performance of the divisions and regional commands that participated in the war.
"Most of the recommendations have been implemented," a top officer said Wednesday. "The rest are currently in the process."
Current Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi set up a team of senior officers on Wednesday to study the Winograd Report and make recommendations.
Military sources said Ashkenazi was committed to implementing the necessary changes to help prepare the military for future conflicts. The team assigned to review the report included OC Planning Maj.-Gen. Ido Nehushtan, OC C4I Communications Branch Maj.-Gen. Ami Shafran and Judge Advocate-General Brig.-Gen. Avicahi Mandelblit.
One of the main changes made since the war was updating the IDF's operational doctrine, which today demonstrates a new understanding of cooperation between the various military branches both in combat and in training.
The doctrine was updated by Brig.-Gen. Itay Brun, a former senior Military Intelligence officer; it divides operational responsibilities among the various branches and has been drilled in recent General Staff-level exercises.
Operational codes and orders were also rewritten, after commanders complained during the war that orders were difficult to understand.
Regarding criticism that the IDF was under-trained and unprepared for the war, since the summer of 2006, the military has embarked on an unprecedented training regimen that has brought a 100 percent increase in the funding of training and exercises. The drills have also included the political echelon.
As an example, the number of exercises involving reserve brigades has climbed 200% in the past year. All reserve battalions in the Northern Command have undergone exercises since the war, marking an 81% increase in their training.
"Before the war, there were brigade commanders who never oversaw a brigade-level exercise and didn't know what it was like to command three to four battalions in battle," an officer said. "Today that is no longer the case."
With regard to the misconception during the war that the air force was capable of stopping the Katyusha rocket fire on Israel, the ground forces will receive a major boost in funding under the IDF's multi-year plan that was recently approved by the cabinet, allowing the procurement of additional Merkava MK-4 Tanks and Namer armored personnel carriers.
The IDF has also invested unprecedented funds in upgrading its C4I Branch - responsible for communication and networking - as well as in intelligence-gathering infrastructure.
A new operational branch was established within Military Intelligence that is responsible for coordinating between MI and its "clients," which include all of the IDF's combat units. After the war, field commanders complained they had not received valuable intelligence information that was needed during operations in southern Lebanon.
The Second Lebanon War also demonstrated the importance of reserve units; the military has set aside NIS 2 billion over the next five years to refill emergency warehouses with new equipment for reservists called up for combat duty in time of war.
The army also opened new courses for commanders with an emphasis on cooperation between IDF branches, particularly between ground forces and the air force. Officers on their way to becoming division commanders are now required to undergo a special course.