Immediately upon Chief of Staff Dan Halutz's announcement of his resignation, two names were tossed around when talks of who will replace Halutz as chief of staff arose: His deputy, Maj. Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky, or Director-General of the Defense Ministry, Maj. Gen. (res.) Gaby Ashkenazy.
Even Ground Forces Commander Maj. Gen. Benny Ganz was mentioned as a prospective candidate, but if he is appointed, this will be a kind of "skipping over a generation," as was done when Moshe Karadi was appointed police commissioner. The chances for such an appointment are very low.
Another option is that one of the generals released from reserve duty will be called to the task, but the defense establishment is estimating that this is also unlikely.
Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky is the natural candidate to inherit Halutz's post at the end of his term. In recent months, as Halutz's position was weakened, his name was brought up for the prestigious position.
Kaplinsky, who started his roll as deputy chief of staff in March 2005, is considered a highly valued officer both within the IDF and among the political echelons. After the war, he supported the chief of staff during his stock-selling scandal, and refused to respond to claims that he could replace him.
In 2001, he was given rank of major general, and was appointed military secretary to the prime minister. In 2002, he was appointed Central Command chief, and dealt mainly with action against terrorism in the Territories.
Kaplinsky is considered a Halutz faithful, and was even sent to the Northern Command during the war in order to work alongside then northern command chief, Udi Adam. A senior officer said to Ynet: "The chief of staff can't oust such a senior officer during war. Therefore, he made a move that removed him from the front with a big hint about the near future."
After the stock selling scandal broke, in which Halutz sold his stocks before the war, Kaplinsky stood loyally by his side. Kaplinsky was also considered Ariel Sharon's right-hand man, and very loved by him. Sharon associates used to say, "It doesn't matter who is chief of staff now. It matter who comes after him. After him comes Kaplinsky."
However, there are those who claim that because Kaplinsky is so close to politicians, especially the Sharon family, he is unfit to be chief of staff.
Maj. Gen. (res.) Gaby Ashkenazy was appointed deputy chief of staff three and a half years ago, and finished his term last July, after which he moved to the Defense Ministry. Ashkenazi lost out to Halutz in the race for chief of staff after then chief of staff Shaul Mofaz made the decisive call in the close race.
Maj. Gen. (res.) Ashkenazy entered his post as Defense Ministry director-general in July 2006, two weeks after the war broke out. He has been Defense Minister Amir Peretz's leading candidate for the post since he entered the ministry, and is considered an excellent workman.
Defense officials noted Tuesday night that he is the candidate most likely to receive the post and to extract the IDF from the mud in which it is stuck. "Ashkenazy was a candidate for this post, and remains a likely candidate," said the official. "The fact that he hasn't been inside the IDF in the past years only increases his chances of receiving the post against any candidate in uniform."
Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report