A leader of courage, common sense and candor

Brig.-Gen. (res.) Uzi Eilam remembers Dan Shomron.

My first encounter with Dan Shomron was on a Friday afternoon toward the end of 1956. Israel was waging war against the terrorists who used to infiltrate from across the borders. The IDF's sole battalion of paratroopers, Battalion 890, was shouldering the major burden of this war. I was driving my army jeep on my way home to my kibbutz. At the gate, a tall sergeant from the paratroopers was waiting for a ride. When he hopped into the car I learned that he was on his way home to Kibbutz Ashdot Ya'acov. It was a long way and a good chance to get to know this young, good-looking and very slim paratrooper. Dan impressed me with his candor and honesty. He did not hesitate to speak up to an officer and dared to commend, but also to criticize, the way our battalion was managed. We met many times over the years and I saw him develop as a fighting commander and a leader. All through his tenure as chief of General Staff, I was a member of the General Staff and worked with Dan in my capacity as director of research and development. Not an engineer or scientist, Dan had unique common sense and an ability to make the right decisions. It was the straightforwardness and honesty, which had radiated from him as a young sergeant, combined with his common sense and courage that made him such a good leader. The writer, who fought with the future chief of General Staff Moshe Levy in the Jordan Valley Brigade, is a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies.