IDF failed to 'strive for victory'

Some of the examples included commanders who decided to abort or postpone missions due to not-optimal weather conditions.

IDF leaves lebanon 298.8 (photo credit: AP [file])
IDF leaves lebanon 298.8
(photo credit: AP [file])
In addition to all the IDF's operational failures raised by the Winograd Committee on Wednesday, a chapter of the final report was also dedicated to an analysis of "IDF Values," the principles set down by the top brass which are supposed to serve as the military's moral backbone. A list of the IDF's values can be found in the office of almost every IDF officer and include devotion to the mission, striving for victory, responsibility, credibility, professionalism, discipline and others. Since the war, Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi frequently mentions this list while pushing commanders to instill these values, particularly devotion to a mission, within their troops. While the Winograd panel complimented Israeli troops for fighting courageously against Hizbullah, there were many cases, the panel found, when the values of dedication to a mission and striving for victory were abandoned. Some of the examples included commanders who decided to abort or postpone missions due to not-optimal weather conditions as well as troops who instead of pushing to engage the enemy spent their time evacuating the wounded, a mission assigned to medical teams deployed just behind the front lines. While the unclear and rapidly changing orders were partially responsible for this decline in values, the top brass's failure to transmit the decision to go to war to the troops on the ground - leading most of them to continue operating as if doing routine operations in the Palestinian territories - was also at the core of the problem. "The format of the operations was not to conquer or severely hurt the enemy but to conduct raids limited by time and place," the report read. "Soldiers and commanders did not always understand why they needed to risk their lives to raid a place that shortly later would be evacuated." Lack of discipline was also blamed in the report as being one of the main sources for many of the IDF's failures, including the kidnapping of reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser on July 12, the missile strike on the INS Hanit and the consistent breaches of information security by officers during briefings to reporters. One of the examples provided and analyzed by the committee was "Operation Steel Cobweb 2," otherwise known as the battle over Bint Jbail. According to the report, on July 22 the Northern Command approved the plan that was to have the Golani and Paratrooper brigades occupy territory surrounding the southern Lebanese city of 30,000. "The orders were from the beginning unclear and there was a feeling of lack of coordination or of a common language between the Northern Command and the general staff," the report stated. The brigades eventually took up their positions on July 25 and the day after Battalion 51 of the Golani Brigade suffered heavy losses during clashes with Hizbullah guerrillas inside the town. That evening, OC Operations Directorate Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot told the security cabinet that the IDF had failed to achieve its goals. Two days later, on July 28, OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Udi Adam expressed the opposite conclusion, claiming during a security assessment at his headquarters in Safed that "the goals that were set have been achieved." According to the Winograd Report, the events concerning Bint Jbail serve as a microcosm of many of the IDF's failures. Referring to the different conclusions reached by Eizenkot and Adam, the panel writes: "The failures in Bint Jbail were caused by a combination of inappropriate planning and the setting of unrealistic goals." The entire battle of Bint Jbail was complicated by units that did not deploy in time, troops that dealt with missions other than the one they were assigned to and orders that continuously changed, leaving field commanders confused as to what their mission was in the first place. In conclusion, the panel recommends that the IDF reexamine its list of values and emphasize the need for operational discipline as well devotion to the mission, even at the expense of other important values such as evacuating the wounded.