A former top Israel Defense Forces officer blasted the IDF’s top brass Thursday, laying the blame on them for botching the "embarrassing" war in Lebanon in 2006, and said that due to a low level of training the army is unprepared to for the next one.
Major-General (res.) Moshe Ivri-Sukenik was most recently commander of the IDF’s Northern Corps until he resigned earlier this year, and also held the post of commander of the IDF’s ground forces several years ago. In a Thursday conference on the ground war in Lebanon, Ivri-Sukenik, who chaired an internal probe into one of the battles of the war, condemned what he called a flawed training program.
"We are not training enough," said Sukenik Thursday, in the first comments he has made in public since he opened the investigation into the performance of the IDF infantry’s Division 162 in Lebanon. Suk
"We are not giving people the minimal means to succeed."
enik added that due to the low level of current training, IDF soldiers are not being prepared for future challenges.
After he retired from service as the head of the IDF’s infantry, the army asked the general to return to command the Northern Corps. Sukenik, who also served as Israel’s military attaché to the United States, resigned from the Northern Corps post last January, partly in protest of what he believes to be insufficient funding for training infantry soldiers.
"After a year at the Corps, I told a forum of the most senior ranks in the army [the General Staff] that it is not taking things seriously. We are not training sufficiently. We are not giving people the minimal means to succeed," said Sukenik.
Sukenik took part in the overhaul of the IDF that was promised after the intelligence and operationa
"Next year, after the cut, the readiness level will once more be low."
l failures of the Second Lebanon War, and he said that whatever has been done to restore the IDF’s combat readiness, the army’s top brass have not learned their lesson.
"I did what I could to restore knowledge. It will take time for the IDF to recover from the wounds of the war,” he said. “Now they are once more talking about cuts in the defense budget. The easiest thing to do is to cut training budgets, because that is where the big money is. The result is that next year, after the cut, the readiness level will once more be low."
Sukenik indignantly recounted the predicament of one division as an example. "Would you believe they did not have maps of the Golan Heights? They had no operational plans on a critical front. Their plans were for an entirely different front. This is the sort of vertigo the IDF found itself in,” he charged.
The confusion caused by conflicting orders, according to Sukenik, permeated the highest levels of command. "The soldiers in the field heard in the media and in the Knesset that there would not be a ground offensive. 'We can end this with the air force,' they said.”
The retired general placed the ultimate blame of Israel’s failure in the war squarely on the soldiers of the IDF top brass. “In the end it trickles down and has an effect. I say with authority: 70 to 80 percent of responsibility for the results [of the Second Lebanon war] lay with the command and the General Staff. The gaps in readiness are not a pleasant thing, but in the end these led to only 10 to 15 percent of the final results."