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IDF Chief of Staff Lit. Gen. Dan Halutz
Photo: AFP
Photo: Shalom Bar-Tal
Defense Ministry Director General Maj. Gen. (retired) Gabi Ashkenazi
Photo: Shalom Bar-Tal
Who will be the next chief of staff?
Senior security officials, including Halutz, will meet Thursday to discuss appointment of new chief of staff; Ynet presents four candidates that could take over top job at Israel Defense Forces

 

The security establishment refuses to allow the bomb dropped on Tuesday by former IDF Chief of Staff Lit. Gen. Dan Halutz night to impinge on its agenda.

 

In addition to meetings and interviews being conducted with candidates for the top job, defense officials will try to broadcast business as usual during their weekly meeting in Defense Minister Amir Peretz' office.

 

Halutz and the IDF top brass will attend the meeting.

 

"Despite the importance attached to the issue of selecting the next chief of staff, security issues remain the most important and no one intends on ignoring them," a security official said.

 

But despite these words, when Halutz announced his resignation it seemed as if that Palestinian terror, Hizbullah's rearmament, the implementation
of the findings of probes into war deficiencies, the defense budget, and even the Iran nuclear issue were relegated to the background.

 

Peretz held meetings with four candidates: Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky, the Commander of the Armored Corps Maj. Gen. Benny Gantz, Defense Ministry Director-General Maj. Gen. (retired) Gabi Ashkenazi, and Ilan Biran, former Defense Minister Director-General.

 

One of four scenarios 

Speaking to a number of IDF officers, it seems that the selection of the IDF's 19th chief of staff will be made from a pool of four possibilities.

 

Scenario 1: Moshe Kaplinsky. His selection will most likely be welcomed by the IDF. Kaplinsky is popular in the army for his extensive experience and his friendliness. He is familiar with the deficiencies and failures of the war with Hizbullah last summer. But despite all this, his appointment could draw criticism from outside the army.

 

Kaplinsky played a central role during the war and served as Halutz representative in the Northern Command headquarters and should the Winograd commission – set up to investigate military and political blunders during the war – lay some of the blame on the deputy chief of staff, the IDF and the defense establishment will find it hard to swallow.

 

Scenario 2: Gabi Ashkenazi. His appoint is also expected to be popular among IDF officers and soldiers. Halutz was favored by then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon over Ashkenazi before his appointment as Defense Ministry Director-General one and a half years ago.

 

Many believe that his large experience will set the IDF on the right track. The fact the he wasn't directly involved in military decision-making during the war could play in his favor, but few forgot that he was Northern Command Chief when Hizbullah kidnapped three soldiers in a cross-border attack in 2000.

 

Although described as an associate of Peretz, officers says Ashkenazi is "the right man, in the right place, at the right time."

 

But his appointment could anger Kaplinsky who is eager to replace his former superior and many believe that should he not be selected, he would most likely resign --- a move that could prove damaging to the IDF at this critical point in time.

 

Scenario 3: Benny Gantz. Although praised for his contribution to the army both as Northern Command Chief and currently as the Commander of the IDF Army Headquarters. It was in this capacity that he oversaw the deployment of ground forces in last summer's war.

 

Scenario 4: Ilan Biran or Amos Malcha. A problematic move. IDF officials won't favor either of the appointments and there are fears that appointing of the two men could have serious implications for the army, including difficulties in implementing recommendations made by internal investigation committees.

 

Biran and Malcha, who retired from the army over ten years ago, are not popular choices and the chances of their being appointed are slim indeed.

 

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