Photo: Hagai Aharon
Lt. Gen. Halutz criticizes loose lips
Photo: Hagai Aharon
Halutz to officers: Don't talk to media without authorization
In a Chief of Staff missive to military forces, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz emphasizes importance of IDF authorization to talk to reporters. States: 'Protection of military intelligence critical part of IDF's ability to win'

Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, IDF's Chief of General Staff, chose to focus a Monday night military missive - his first since the onset of the conflict in Lebanon - on the topic of media relations. Halutz called upon officers not to agree to interviews without prior authorization with the IDF spokesperson's office, a request that he says is intended to protect military intelligence information. However, it may be that this is also an attempt to silence internal dissent.


IDF officers, who received the missive via the military's e-mail network, were surprised that the Chief of Staff chose, moments after
a ceasefire and a time when scores of IDF soldiers are being lain to rest, to address the media issue. "Perhaps there were leaks to the press, but this is a marginal issue compared to dozens of other essential issues that the IDF needs to address," said one officer. He added that the IDF censor is responsible for approving publication of sensitive material and perhaps the Chief of Staff was sending an implicit message in that direction.


"Perhaps it's a sensitive issue for him," said on of the officers, "but it seems that the first missive to IDF officers since the onset of the current conflict should first offer encouragement and support to commanders in these difficult days, and then touch on other issues."


The following is an excerpt from the missive:


IDF commanders,


The war in Lebanon, more than any previous ones, is taking place under a bright media spotlight. Since the onset of the fighting, the IDF has implemented an extensive explanatory policy, led by the IDF spokesperson's office and aided by military commanders. Initiated media coverage allows the public in the home front to experience events on the front line, and to feel proximity, faith and empathy for our soldiers and their commanders, while strengthening the forces' stamina and immunity against the difficulties of battle.


Nonetheless, this wide media coverage has its price, primarily in the unchecked exposure of force movement, size, objectives, and so on. Terror organizations, who pay close attention to every word and every picture broadcasted by the media, have succeeded more than once to be better prepared against the superior IDF forces, based on the information given to them by the media. Unchecked information endangers our goals and puts the lives of our soldiers at risk.  


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