Analysis: An entire group of officers tainted

Zuckerman is latest in a line of senior officers to have resigned over the war, following Chief of General Staff Dan Halutz.

gal hirsch 88 (photo credit: )
gal hirsch 88
(photo credit: )
"Erez realized that he no longer has any chance to influence the IDF," an officer close to Brig.-Gen. Erez Zuckerman explained over the weekend. Zuckerman announced his resignation last week. "He knows that whatever he says, people will remind him of what happened in the Lebanon War," the officer said. That same officer insisted no one had told Zuckerman that he would never be promoted or appointed to another senior position. "He just feels that after all that has happened he can't stay in the army anymore. The general feeling is that all the senior officers who were involved in the fighting last summer are now tainted and have to go." Zuckerman stayed in uniform for the last 10 months to supervise the "rehabilitation" and accelerated training of his reserve armored division. Now that the division has held a successful major exercise, he decided it was time to leave. His friends say this wasn't "a planned and calculated move," that he did not yet know what he would do after the army, and that he had not received any offers from the private sector. "Erez is so unused to life outside the IDF," the officer said. "He barely finished a BA last year, and that was in drama. For the time being he'll probably run his family's farm; they own a herd of cattle." Zuckerman is the latest in a line of senior officers to have resigned over the war, following Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz, OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Udi Adam and Galilee Division commander Brig.-Gen. Gal Hirsch. One of the other two division commanders involved in the fighting is expected to leave the IDF in August. Zuckerman's division wasn't originally meant to participate in the campaign, but he pressed the General Staff to call up his reservists and to send them to Lebanon in the war's last week. The division had limited success and lost three of its soldiers. "Erez feels terrible, he dove into the water head first and now believes he should take the blame," the officer said. One of Zuckerman's brigade commanders was fired - the only officer of his rank to be let go for his conduct during the war. Zuckerman didn't feel he could stay on after one of his officers was forced to leave. IDF officers are complaining about a "retro trend" sweeping the army, in which people are saying that once upon a time the battalions and brigades were led by teams of brave, dedicated fighters, while today the senior field officers are obsessed high-tech careerists. This nostalgia blossomed soon after the war, when Halutz was hauled before angry forums of retired generals bitterly criticizing today's IDF. The retired officers were allowed to chair the committees that investigated the conduct of the different units. Now there are complaints by commanders at various levels that there is a limit to the self-flagellation the army should have to undergo and that the old commanders had more than their share of failures when they ran the IDF. One veteran brigade commander said last week he told young officers he addressed recently that his generation wasn't any better. "I told them that they have better equipment and better training than we had, and they are just as motivated. The only difference is the level of responsibility. In our day, when we were given a mission, we would switch off our radio sets and make contact only after the mission was accomplished. "Today, that would be unthinkable. Every commander knows that the generals are listening in and he's worried that if he says the wrong thing, his career will be over."