Critical generals: Halutz will 'draw the necessary conclusions'

High-ranking reserve officer: "Confusion set in... there was no orderly operational plan."

halutz looks tough 298.8 (photo credit: IDF [file])
halutz looks tough 298.8
(photo credit: IDF [file])
"The ground is shaking and Dan Halutz knows it," one of the reserve generals behind this week's calls for the chief of General Staff to resign said on Thursday. "My professional judgment is pretty clear: He needs to go. And I expect that he will draw the necessary conclusions." What originated in some heartfelt telephone conversations between Brig.-Gen. Doron Almog and Maj.-Gen. Yoram Yair about the stewardship of the war with Hizbullah burst into the headline-making open in the past three days, to the publicly stated dismay of both Almog and Yair. "It was not our intention for this to come out," said Almog. "Our aim was to meet with Halutz and convey our concerns. A public campaign before such a meeting is not appropriate." Many former members of the IDF's top brass have indeed been invited to meet with Halutz on Tuesday. According to some reports, no fewer than 100 such luminaries are being called in. "If that figure is correct," said one of the reserve generals, "then Halutz is not serious about seeking a dialogue, but I intend to speak out nonetheless." Military officials said the planned meeting was one in a series of such meetings Halutz has held. They also said there was no official response to the reserve generals' criticisms and calls since no complaints had been officially filed. Almog and another reserve general linked to the protest, Maj.-Gen. Uri Saguy, were publicly critical of the conduct of the war even as the fighting continued. Writing in The Jerusalem Post on August 11, Almog noted that "if Israel currently had arms capable of intercepting 90 percent of the rockets, and with the IAF attacking Hizbullah as it has been doing until now, there would be no need to send in ground forces, and the entire debate we have witnessed over the offensive in south Lebanon would be irrelevant. In such a situation, Hizbullah would understand the ineffectiveness of its missile arsenal and would likely be reluctant to use it. "But in the absence of this type of weapons system, Israel has no choice but to gain deterrence and a decisive outcome through a combination of massive ground forces in south Lebanon supported by the air force and navy, and a more massive attack on Lebanon's infrastructures." Yair was quoted on Thursday as saying he had met with senior army commanders who were deeply worried about norms and values that were eroding in the IDF. Saguy was quoted as saying that he was hearing "profound concerns" from within the IDF and that he would be raising them with Halutz but was emphatically not demanding his resignation. But a general associated with the protest leveled stronger and more specific criticism at Halutz on Thursday, telling the Post he could "not justify the way the land forces were used. The planning and execution were very problematic." The reservists should have been mobilized at the start of the conflict, given the few days of training necessary and sent to implement the major but straightforward plan of moving far enough north into Lebanon to thwart the Katyushas. "After all," he said, "we knew precisely where they were being fired from." Instead, he went on, orders were issued, then changed; "confusion set in; reservists started to wonder if their commanders knew what they were doing; commanders started to wonder if those still higher up knew what they were doing... There was no orderly operational plan." The loss of confidence was exacerbated by the apparent sidelining of OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Uzi Adam, as Deputy Chief of General Staff Maj.-Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky was dispatched to the North. "You had a loss of faith, a crisis of trust. And soldiers need that faith in order to fight," this general went on. "That motivation is more important even than weaponry and food. They are risking their lives and need to be sure that those who send them into battle know exactly what they are doing." It was because of the need to restore that shattered confidence, he said, that he strongly believed Halutz needed to step down, and it was unlikely that anything Halutz had to say on Tuesday would change his mind. In 1973, he noted, chief of General Staff David Elazar, who resigned after the Yom Kippur War, was castigated for flawed preparation for war but was praised for his handling of the fighting itself. "Halutz," he charged, "failed in both areas. The IDF now needs a new leader to rebuild and rehabilitate."