Halutz: IDF has turned into national punching bag
Former chief of staff says in testimony that lack of land experience didn't work against him, criticizes State's policy of restraint since withdrawal from Lebanon. ‘Too many people looked upwards during war instead of taking responsibility themselves’
Following the publication of the partial Winograd Commission report last Monday, the testimonies of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz, and former IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz were posted on the commission’s official website on Thursday morning.
In his testimony before the committee, Halutz said, "Everyone looked one floor above instead of looking one floor below. When you look a floor below – you command. When you look up a floor – you are looking for command.”
“There were too many cases of people passing on responsibility higher up," he said with regards to the decision-making process during the Second Lebanon War.
"I believe that with the information we had, and the means we had at our disposal, we could have achieved a lot more – had we been more decisive," Halutz noted in his testimony, significant parts of which were banned for publication due to their sensitive security related content.
"There is no need to be more daring but to be more decisive, to take initiative and be more responsible. These are the three parameters – decisiveness, initiative and responsibility."
'Preparations not satisfactory'
During the first days of the war, Halutz said there was overall consensus that it was not the time to embark on a wide scale ground assault. Despite this, he admitted that there were preparations for such an eventuality; however the preparations were not satisfactory.
"I have already said that with regards to preparation I erred in not preparing more fully, widely and earlier," the former IDF chief of staff said.
Halutz was asked whether the fact that he had no land combat experience - since he comes from the air force - didn't work against him in serving as the chief of staff commanding over the entire IDF. "I didn't feel that it worked against me," responded Halutz, "but I don't know, and I don't think it's right that I judge myself. I don't look at it objectively, but I am trying to be as loyal as I can to what I understand are the command's needs.
Objected to restraint policy
Halutz clarified that the restraint policy adopted by Israel in recent years on the northern border was not to his liking. "When I was the air force commander I though this policy was wrong…I believed that a retaliation policy, even surrounding the abduction of soldiers in 2000 should have been different, but a different decision was made."
When asked whether the cooperation between himself and Peretz was positive or not, Halutz responded, "In general there was cooperation, on a personal level, relations were proper, but as I had worked under two other defense ministers I could see the difference.
The key difference between the defense minister (Peretz) and his predecessor (Shaul Mofaz), was that the current defense minister is also the head of the Labor party … It takes up a lot of time and attention."
Halutz added that many of the meetings that were scheduled between the two didn't take place due to all his other activities "And he has a lot," Halutz added.
When Commission member Professor Ruth Gabizon asked whether the air strike on the Dahia neighborhood wasn't an impulsive maneuver in response to the humiliation of a second abduction of IDF soldiers within a month, Halutz denied the suggestion.
"First of all there was no impulse, and I can testify for myself. There was no emotional approach here…it's a complex reality in many ways, particularly the involvement of the home front which a priori we knew would become involved, because Hizbullah didn't prepare all its missiles for striking at military bases… what was achieved or not achieved (for the home front) should be examined by the test of time."