Chief of Staff Dan Halutz
Photo: Yaron Brener
IDF troops entering Lebanon in Summer of 2006
I have recently fulfilled 40 years of service in the IDF. During this long period, I have had the privilege of serving this country, my country, my homeland. In my eyes, this is the loftiest mission – to defend the peace and security of the State of Israel.
I fought with my brothers in arms in the ranks of the IDF in all the arenas. Every time I was called up for an assignment, I fulfilled it with a sense of mission. I acted out of considerations in accordance with morality, loyalty, integrity, authenticity, and affection.
During my long stay with the IDF, I had the privilege to command excellent people, and I saw the IDF advance and develop, because of these same people, capabilities and achievements that have placed it among the leading armies of the world.
For me, the word 'responsibility' has a weighty meaning: It is the essence of everything, from A to B. From confidence to investigation. My conception of responsibility is what led me to remain in my post until now, and to lay this letter on the desk today.
The day I won the confidence of the government headed by Mr. Ariel Sharon upon receiving the post of chief of staff on June 1, 2005, I took upon myself a great responsibility.
The essence of this responsibility was expressed in the fighting in Lebanon in the summer of 2006 and after it. When the battle was over, I decided to exercise my responsibilities to the fullest according to the best of the traditions from home and my army service. Accordingly, I ordered a full investigation of the fighting in a manner that is unmatched in the history of the IDF: a profound, deep, and detailed investigation, that didn't pass over me.
Today, after the investigative process has been completed in the IDF, and after a draft has been set for applying the lessons of the investigation in the framework of the IDF's 2007 working plan, I feel a sense of pride for having completed what I set as a goal for myself at the end of the war in Lebanon, and I exhausted my responsibility. After these deep processes, I trust that the IDF will be prepared for the challenges that lay ahead.
The investigations made me see what needed to be done in order to correct what needed correcting and to maintain and improve the areas in which we succeeded. One of the central things were learned from the investigations is that the IDF system is deeply affected by long-term processes. Often, this influence is not detected, and we are not aware of the extent of its consequences. These processes have implications for the Israeli society, in general, and overall military capabilities, in particular.
The State of Israel has, unfortunately, been sentenced to continue fighting for its existence. The capability to ensure our success in this continuing battle starts and ends with our power. This power, at its foundation, is built on values, on quality education, on a strong economy, and, above all, a strong IDF.
The IDF's power is built first and foremost on the quality of its members, and only afterwards on the resources allotted it to fulfill its missions. We must remember that the IDF's achievements in the war in Lebanon, and in other arenas, was achieved by a large group of fighters and commanders in compulsory service and reserve service who are prepared to be called to the flag at any moment. The IDF's resilience stems from the public support it enjoys. Unfortunately, this last area of support has eroded in recent years.
I believe, Mr. Prime Minister, that we must protect at any cost the respect and heritage of the IDF, and to leave it outside the political battles.
It is human nature not to want to serve in a system that isn't valued and which isn't protected by its dispatchers. We must ensure that we don't arrive at a situation in which quality people hesitate to tie their fate and future to the IDF. Nothing will help us then, not the good education, and not the strong economy. There is danger that the threats on the State of Israel will become more tangible.
The IDF is a very moral army, such as there is none other like it. Its heritage is replete with pages of bravery stained with the blood of the sons and daughters of the country who have fallen along the way. Their memories will accompany us always.
I hope that we will be able to return the kidnapped, captive, and missing soldiers quickly to the country for which we are fighting. The meetings with the bereaved families will be in my heart forever. Even during these difficult and complex times for them, they continue to support and encourage the IDF and its commanders.
I am forever ingratiated to the defense minister under whom I served, and thank the IDF General Staff who were full partners in thought and in practice. I give special thanks to the commanders and soldiers of the IDF compulsory and reserve service, and to all the employees of the IDF who carry the daily burdens.
You, sir, I wish to thank for your support and backup, and to wish you success in handling the complex challenges facing the nation, and you as prime minister.
In order to guide and to lead, we must take responsibility. As such, after I have finished my task for this era, here I announce to you that I intend to immediate terminate my post as chief of staff.
I salute the IDF and its fighters.
And stand at your service always,
Danny Halutz, Lieutenant General, Chief of Staff