Halutz: War's length was biggest failure

Tells Winograd preparation for large-scale ground operation was unsatisfactory.

halutz fists 298 AJ (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
halutz fists 298 AJ
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
In his heavily censored testimony to the Winograd Committee released on Thursday, former chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Dan Halutz said the army's greatest failure was its inability to bring the war to a swifter conclusion. "Without a doubt, I recognize that at the end of the day that was the most blatant non-achievement or failure," he said. "Thirty-three days is longer than necessary. I say unequivocally that I am aware of this and at the end of the day that is the most significant failure." Halutz told the committee he believed that "given the resources we had at our disposal, we could have achieved much more if we had been more determined." More from the Winograd testimonies:
  • Olmert: Halutz told me the army was ready
  • Peretz: 'I was not told army was under-trained' Senior IDF sources dismissed the criticism of the military by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz during their testimonies before the Winograd Committee released to the public on Thursday. Skirting responsibility for the failures of the war, Peretz told the committee he had been unaware of how unprepared the IDF was for the 34 days of fighting against Hizbullah. Olmert told the committee there had been something "defective" in the army's operational doctrine. "Everyone should examine themselves," an IDF source said. "The situation was not as clear as Olmert and Peretz make it out to be." Maj.-Gen. (res.) Eyal Ben-Reuven, who served as deputy head of Northern Command during the war, on Thursday told The Jerusalem Post the IDF had been prepared for the war. Olmert and Peretz had been responsible for the failures, since they had formulated faulty policy and strategy, he said. "There is no doubt that after spending the past six years in the territories fighting the Palestinians, the IDF could have been better prepared for the event of an all-out war," Ben-Reuven said. "But even so, the IDF was sufficiently prepared and the problem was not with the commanders or the soldiers, but with the policy and policy-makers." In his testimony, Halutz, who had headed the IAF, was asked if his lack of experience in commanding ground forces had hindered his performance as chief of General Staff. "I did not feel that it bothered me, but I don't think I should be the one to judge myself," he said. "A chief of General Staff does not work solo - he has a very large staff by his side." Halutz was asked by the committee chairman, retired judge Eliahu Winograd, how he felt when he learned Peretz had been appointed defense minister. "That same day I felt as if the burden on me had grown due to [Peretz's] lack of experience," Halutz answered. "In general, there was cooperation... the major difference was that Peretz was the chairman of a political party and that took up a lot of his time and attention," he added. In the first days of the war, Halutz said, there had been a consensus that the time was not right to embark on an extensive ground operation. He admitted that even though there had been preparation for this possibility, it was unsatisfactory. "There were too many instances of passing the responsibility upwards," Halutz said. "Everyone looked at the floor above him instead of looking at the floor beneath him. When one looks downwards, he is a commander. When one looks upwards, he is looking for commanders."