"I cannot promise we will not find ourselves facing a difficult trial in the near future," IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi said on Wednesday at a ceremony for cadets graduating from the officers' training course.
"Our hands are outstretched in peace, but they are also ready for battle," said Ashkenazi.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who spoke before Ashkenazi, said that "even when many of the young officers here today enlisted after the echoes of the war fell silent, I know without a shadow of a doubt that if we are once again called on to face another conflict in that region or any other, you will embody the noble and tangible essence of the spirit of the IDF and serve as Israel's defensive shield.
"We have learned much from the Second Lebanon War. For the past year-and-a-half now we have been moving forward with a process that at its core aims to change and improve the decision making process and security assessments made on the national and political levels."
Olmert said that even the officers' training course has been modified following the war. "We are investing unprecedented resources to allow the IDF to train more, to prepare itself and provide its soldiers with the best possible training on every command level to face any scenario," he said.
"In its 60th year the State of Israel is a strong nation with a powerful military and a level of deterrence
known well to all those who need to know it," said Olmert, alluding to Israel's covert operations. "We are confident in ourselves and in our might, we march ahead down a road of peace and security."
The prime minister closed his speech with a prayer and said that on this day of celebration "we remember our deep obligation to the IDF's missing and captive soldiers and we pray for their quick return to the embrace of their families."