Report decries poor 'interface'

"The IDF is supposed to carry out decisions of political leadership. The IDF in War failed to carry out this role with the necessary success."

winograd report book 298 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
winograd report book 298
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The word "interface" is a word that appears repeatedly in the 629-page Winograd Report on the Second Lebanon War. But in most cases, it is a lack of interface that the report is alluding to, the lack of contact - of coordination - between the political/diplomatic and military echelons. And in a war, where the diplomatic achievements are dependent on the military successes, and where military actions impact heavily on the diplomatic front, this interface is critical. In the Second Lebanon War, the committee concluded, this interface was seriously lacking. And this defect can be found in the most basic form, such as when the political echelon - that echelon which decides to embark on a war - does not have a realistic assessment of its army's strengths and preparedness. "Part of the defects in embarking on the war were linked to the fact that the decision-makers did not make it a point to study and determine the conditions on the ground and the preparedness of the army," the report stated. "These were things that should have been checked before embarking on an initiated war." One of the failures of the senior decision-makers, the report said, was that they essentially did not carry out "due diligence" before deciding to embark on the war. But the "interface" problems did not end with the decision to go to war. Indeed, the report stated that the "picture of the war was a combined result of deficient management of the political echelon and the military echelon and the interface between them." For instance, the report stated, the army was hindered in achieving its aims because of a "lack of clarity" in the directives given by the political echelon. The report found a lack of a general diplomatic-security vision that would have been the basis and provided a guiding light for various decisions. "This hurt Israel's ability to achieve its diplomatic aims, and is therefore a failure," the report said. The report also found a serious "disconnect" between the political negotiations to bring about the final UN Security Council resolution and the "dynamics of the military action." The report bewailed a lack of "systematic staff work" on ways to coordinate between the military and diplomatic actions, and also bewailed a lack of a demand from the diplomatic echelon for just this sort of staff work, saying: "The staff work done in the Foreign Ministry concerning the adoption of a favorable resolution in the Security Council was, in the main, quick, systematic and efficient," the report maintained. "At the same time, for a variety of reasons, it did not reflect clear awareness of the essential need to maintain an effective relationship between military achievements and diplomatic activities." The report concluded that while shortcomings in coordinated staff work and the decision making process was something that has been known both throughout the world and in Israel for a long time, it was especially problematic during the Second Lebanon War because of the "lack of military knowledge and experience of the political leadership." According to the report, "The IDF is supposed to carry out the decisions of the political leadership. The IDF in the Second Lebanon War failed to carry out this role with the necessary success." Likewise, the report said, "The IDF is supposed to aid the political leadership in decision making, and to provide them with the necessary information so that the means will be suitable to the goals." The committee concluded that the army failed to sufficiently carry out that critical interface role.