Analysis: Naveh’s appointment raises questions

Experts are asking if army should fill senior positions with former officers – no matter how qualified – who have left the military.

yair naveh 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
yair naveh 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Following the appointment of former OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Yair Naveh to the post of IDF deputy chief of General Staff, some experts have asked whether the army should be looking to former members – no matter how qualified – who have left the military to fill senior positions.
Naveh, who will take over from Maj.-Gen. Benny Gantz in February 2011, reportedly accepted the position on the condition that he be considered as a candidate for next IDF chief of staff, after incoming chief of General Staff Yoav Galant retires from the position in three years. He will be the most senior religious officer in the military.
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“As an individual, he’s appropriate for the position,” Meir Elran, former deputy director of Military Intelligence, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
But Elran, who is a director of the Homeland Security Program at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies, added, “It is unfortunate though, that the IDF can’t recruit from within, and has to take people who have already left. One of the considerations behind this is the bad blood between senior IDF officials.”
Before Naveh agreed to take the position, OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot turned it down due to sour relations with Galant, which were made worse by the recent so-called “Galant document” affair.
OC Central Command Maj.- Gen. Avi Mizrahi also informally rejected the idea that he become deputy chief of General Staff, according to reports.
“Another problem is age,” Elran said. “Naveh is 53-year-old, and the IDF should have a target of recruiting younger officers, who can maintain a higher state of vigilance,” he added.
But Maj.-Gen. (res.) Ya’acov Amidror, former head of the IDF’s Research and Assessment Division, said choosing a skilled former senior officer should not be considered a bad move.
“This isn’t exactly looking outside the military. The IDF can be a very cruel system for officers who are at their peak and who have great skills, but can’t continue onwards,” Amidror, who is also program director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, added.
“If someone has to leave because he didn’t get on for some reason, and the same person did not go into politics, then there is an advantage in bringing them back and utilizing their experience that they gained outside of the army,” Amidror said. “This shouldn’t be done all the time, but once in a while, it’s a natural move, and it does not indicate a lack of qualified personnel,” he said.
Naveh is currently CEO of the Citypass company, which has been tasked with constructing Jerusalem’s Light Railway system.
Despite being religious, he is a despised figure among some settler circles due to his overseeing the 2005 evacuation of settlements from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria.
He has been credited with keeping terrorist attacks from the West Bank down to a minimum between 2005 and 2007.