(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Former IDF generals slammed Deputy Chief of General Staff Maj.-Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky on Sunday after The Jerusalem Post revealed that he was taking a leave of absence from his military service to participate in a senior management course at Harvard University without committing to return to the army following his studies.
The two-month course, which costs $56,000, will be fully paid for by the IDF. Former chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Dan Halutz took a similar course a few months ago - also at the IDF's expense - even though immediately following his return, he took up a senior post in an Israeli corporation.
Predicting that Kaplinsky would resign after completing the course, former senior IDF officers attacked Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi's decision to allow funds from the defense budget to pay for his deputy's studies. Kaplinsky is being replaced as deputy chief of General Staff by Maj.-Gen. Dan Harel, currently the defense attachÃ© in Washington.
"There is no reason that the IDF should pay for his course if he does not return to military service afterward," said one former IDF general. "Why should the State of Israel invest such an exorbitant amount of money in someone who will not 'pay' it back to the IDF?" Traditionally, the IDF has offered to pay for university courses for senior officers on their way to retirement, as part of an effort to assist them make the transition from the military back to civilian life. But very few retiring generals have been allowed to participate in prestigious courses like the one at Harvard due to the costs, which - including tuition, living expenses and a monthly salary - reach close to NIS 400,000.
While it did not apply for himself, one of Halutz's last decisions as chief of General Staff was to pass an order forbidding retiring officers from studying abroad.
Last Wednesday, Kaplinsky criticized the government's decision to cut the defense budget by NIS 480 million.
"There is something wrong when a senior officer criticizes budget cuts, but at the same time has no problem traveling abroad for studies at the expense of the same budget he is supposedly safeguarding," another former general said.