halutz 298 JP.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
What exactly was IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz expecting to find at 7 a.m. on Monday during his surprise visit to the headquarters of Division 36 at Nafah on the Golan Heights aimed at "inspecting readiness"?
Perhaps he wanted to inspect the base's canteen. From personal experience I know that Coca-Cola cans aren't always refrigerated at regulation temperature and there are no emergency supplies of chocolate-covered wafers, and besides, it never opens on time.
Aside from that, it's doubtful that Halutz had time to inspect anything else of importance; he had to rush on to Maj.-Gen. Udi Adam's farewell ceremony at Northern Command.
Hopefully, the team of officers who also went to Nafah on Monday morning stayed on and will carry out a more thorough job, not only in the offices at division headquarters but also in the various units and outposts protecting Israel from a possible Syrian attack.
Halutz's presence, though, was nothing but a publicity stunt, showing that he means business, not with the strange and muddled dictator in Damascus, but with the frustrated and near-mutinous IDF officer corps.
The departure of Adam, the only general so far to take responsibility for the mismanagement of the Lebanon War, was bound to be a difficult occasion for Halutz, including some barely veiled criticism of his own conduct. Preempting the event and stealing some of Adam's thunder made media sense.
So far Halutz has weathered the storm, resisted the calls for his resignation and now there is a "new" chief of staff, no longer the aloof pilot, from now on call him Halutz the reformer.
Instead of being the subject of inquiries into the war's failures, he is the one appointing the various committees and receiving their reports.
Those lazy bums in Division 36 and elsewhere had better look out; there's someone on their case. In a letter sent recently by Halutz to all reservists who served during the summer, he promised that "as is the norm in the IDF, we will investigate every occurrence, look into every action and will conceal nothing."
The fact that Halutz chose Adam's last morning on the job to inspect one of the key units under his command was less than tactful. But at least this time Adam anticipated the threat in advance.
In his farewell speech he made clear that the professional military problems being investigated by Halutz's teams "are fixable. But the main failures I identified and experienced during the war had to do with principles, such as loyalty and camaraderie."
Adam might not have always been in total control of the fighting forces under his command during the war or inspired the confidence of officers and politicians, but he was courteous and disciplined throughout.
Just as he stoically accepted the appointment of Maj.-Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky above him at the height of battle, resigning only after the cease-fire, he remained prim and proper until the end, even thanking Halutz for appointing him in the first place.
But in his own way he made it quite clear where he saw the army's failings. "These are deep-rooted and fundamental problems concerning norms and values, which demand the deepest soul-searching," he said upon leaving his command. This is just a hint of what Halutz can expect when Adam's turn arrives to testify before the Winograd Commission.