Hirsch: An officer tipped to reach the top

Brig.-Gen. Gal Hirsch's letter of resignation submitted Sunday, if accepted by IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz, would signify the end of a career for an officer widely considered to be an up-and-coming military talent. Hirsch began his career as the rugged and tough-talking commander of the Paratroopers brigade. From there, he went on to serve as the Binyamin Division commander, and later as commander of the IDF's officer school. In 1982, Hirsch was drafted to the Paratroopers brigade, where he excelled and went on to command a Paratroopers company and then a battalion. In 1993, he left the Paratroopers to command the Air Force commando unit Shaldag for four years, and from there he was appointed officer of the intelligence branch of the Judea and Samaria Division. In 1999, he became commander of the Binyamin brigade for two years. He commanded the IDF officer school before taking command of Division 91, the Galilee division, in April 2005, a post considered a stepping stone to the IDF's highest ranks, and he soon became a foreign media favorite due to his excellent command of English. Despite being accused by former OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. (res.) Doron Almog of being asleep at the helm when an IDF patrol was blindsided by a Hizbullah commando squad on July 12, Hirsch held the reputation of being among the IDF's strictest disciplinarians. As a colonel, his decision to dismiss a cadet from officers's school the day before graduation for a much-publicized kissing scandal grabbed headlines. For a few days in March 2004, the saga became the nation's most pressing security concern. Hirsch holds a BA in Middle Eastern studies from Bar-Ilan University and and an MA in business management from Tel Aviv University. He is married and a father to three children.