Ashkenazi ends tenure as Israel’s top soldier February. Galant leading candidate
Defense minister Ehud Barak informed Lt. Gen. Gaby Ashkenazi Tuesday, April 6, that his four-year tenure as IDF chief of staff would not be extended when it runs out next February. This decision was approved by prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
debkafile's military sources report that neither was satisfied that Ashkenazi's performance and strategic approach were appropriate in the light of current security threats.
Both hold his military ability in high esteem, but since he was hurriedly appointed chief of staff in early 2007, Ashkenazi has shown little appetite for turning his talents into proactive field combat.
In the early 2009 Cast Lead operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, our sources report Barak and Ashkenazi did not work well together. At the time, the defense minister was highly impressed by the decisiveness and tactics employed in the operation by the far more hawkish OC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant.
Ashkenazi virtually blocked Galant's path as his successor by vetoing his promotion to deputy chief of staff, the usual jumping-off slot to the top post. The prime minister and defense minister decided nonetheless that the commander of the Gaza sector was the tough, practical leader the armed forces need at a time of looming peril from a nuclearized Iran and its allies and the unsettled situation on two of Israel's borders. The transition is expected to begin shortly.
In a statement Tuesday night, Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi explained he had not applied for a fifth-year extension because he fully approved of the government's unanimous decision when he took the job not to extend the tenure of any chief of staff beyond four years – except in extraordinary emergency circumstances. "We face complicated security problems and exceptional challenges from near and far which oblige is all to focus on essentials – and that is what we shall do," said the chief of staff.