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Photo: Moshe Milner, GPO
Peretz and Olmert
Photo: Moshe Milner, GPO
Halutz
Photo: Tomeriko
Leaders shirking responsibility, IDF officials say
Army officials criticize leaders' testimonies at Winograd Commission that they were misinformed about condition of IDF at beginning of war. Prime minister, defense minister should have assessed situation at any given moment, official says
IDF officials slammed Thursday the prime minister and defense minister for claiming that they were misinformed about the situation in the IDF at the beginning of the Second Lebanon War.

 

In his testimony at the Winograd Commission, Olmert said that "the chief of staff promised that the army was strong and able" and that he couldn't have known that things were not quite like that.

 

Defense Minister Peretz had also testified that on July 12 he was not aware of the shortcomings of the IDF.

 

IDF top brass were surprised to hear these statements: "Whoever says they don't know what the circumstances are really like should assess the situation. As a senior official, he did not do everything possible to obtain information about the situation as it was at every given minute."

 

They also rejected comments made by politicians and analysts as if the most senior government officials were not involved in what went on in the military.

 

"Regardless of the war, the prime minister and the defense minister have the right to know what is happening in the army, as do other high ranking officials in the country. This also includes facts about the preparedness of the reserve army and details about missing equipment. It does not sound convincing when they blame the army," the sources said.

 

Regarding the details published in the report, IDF officials said that there was a lack of communication between the political and military echelons. They added that if indeed things were not communicated correctly, it must be looked into.

 

'Politicians weren't given full picture of situation'  

The IDF is making an effort not to directly attack their former chief, Halutz. There are those, however, who said that he did not present things as he should have. One of the sources also said that the politicians were not given the full picture of the army's situation.

 

Additionally, army sources claimed that the large differences in the state's budget should have served as a warning sign, with the IDF suffering from heavy cutbacks over the last few years. "One can assume that a lower budget weakened a few aspects, so it is unreasonable to say that they had no idea about the situation."

 

Olmert referred to that claim in his testimony when he was asked about a visit to the General Staff headquarters where he was warned that things were bad.

 

"I heard it, but didn’t really pay attention to it," he admitted, and reminded the commission that the security establishment often raises demands for money.

 

Today, it is totally different

The IDF has refused to comment on the protocols officially and publicly. The commission, IDF officials said, said what it had to say in the partial report published 10 days ago. The report is currently under study by a special team appointed by the chief of staff, headed by Major General Ido Nechushtan, head of the Planning Directorate.

 

"We are currently in the midst of implementing the conclusions," IDF sources said. "Three regular army brigades have had a full training series that IDF has not had for years. The IDF looks and operates differently. The reserve army is also improving. An extensive drill is scheduled to take place in the near future to test how the commands are functioning, including the General Staff. The IDF should focus on the future and not the past."

 

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