Former top officer: Halutz didn't listen to generals

Chronicler of the General Staff's work during war says top-command war-room was mismanaged.

Halutz salutes 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
Halutz salutes 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Former IDF chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Dan Halutz refused to listen to - or did not hear - the calls of several General Staff commanders who advised on a wide-scale ground assault during the Second Lebanon War, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Udi Shani said on Friday. Shani told Israel Radio that Halutz wasn't receptive enough to dissenting views among his commanders and should have spent more time near the front lines, rather than at military headquarters. Shani, who wrote a General Staff report chronicling the war during the fighting in the summer of 2006, told the radio station that Halutz came to the General Staff's war room only once during the entire war, on the day Hizbullah captured Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. The abduction of the two reservists, still held by Hizbullah, was the casus belli for Israel to embark on the campaign. Shani added that members of the General Staff did not convene in the war room during the fighting. He said that overall, the General Staff convened rarely during the war, and opined that this had implications not only for its own performance, but also for that of other branches of the military. "The military failed," Shani told Israel Radio. "It didn't operate properly." "The military failed because it had an erroneous concept," he said, in an apparent reference to the heavy reliance on air strikes against Hizbullah. The unusually frank criticism of the army command came just days after a five-member investigative panel, headed by retired Judge Eliahu Winograd, issued its final report on the 34-day war, criticizing both the government and the army for "serious failings and flaws." Winograd said Israel had not won the war and the army had not provided an effective response to a sustained, deadly barrage of rocket fire from Hizbullah. Despite a heavy IAF aerial campaign, the group rained nearly 4,000 rockets on northern Israel. Reservists returning from the battlefield complained of poor training and a lack of ammunition and key supplies. While the Winograd Committee was looking into the army's performance, Shani conducted a parallel internal investigation of the performance of the top command. He said the reliance on air attacks was reasonable in the first few days of the war, but that commanders then should have prepared for a ground offensive. The army embarked on the ground offensive only at the last minute, just as a UN truce was about to take effect. Thirty-three soldiers were killed in that fighting. Winograd said the 11th-hour offensive failed in its mission, did not improve Israel's position and that the army was not prepared for it. However, he said the operation's goals were legitimate.