Chief of staff appoints his deputy Maj.-Gen Moshe Kaplinsky as personal representative in the IDF’s northern command

debkafile‘s military sources add: Notwithstanding the official denials, this step is a manifestation of dissatisfaction on the part of chief of staff, Lt-Gen Dan Halutz, with the conduct of the war and his lack of confidence in the IDF’s northern command’s ability to carry the campaign forward without on-location supervision.
Questions regarding Maj.-Gen Udi Adam’s competence for this particular campaign were asked at the outset of the war, which erupted on July 12 when Hizballah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers, killed 8 and loosed its first rocket attack on northern Israel.
Gen. Adam specializes in classical tank warfare. He has never encountered comprehensive warfare in Lebanon’s special conditions against a Hizballah guerrilla force backed by Iranian and Syrian sponsors, trainers and armorers.
In the first month of the conflict, Israeli tanks and their crews have borne the brunt of battle losses, prey to Hizballah’s anti-tank weapons, for which no tactical answer has been found. Neither have Hizballah strongholds been cracked in places such as Bin Jubeil ,where the fighting flares up time and again after Hizballa fighters have been ostensibly cleared out. The IDF’s backbone, the Merkava tanks, are clearly too vulnerable and Hizballah fortifications too difficult to breach.
The chief of staff, although advised in the third week of the war by many senior officers including reserve generals to shake up the northern command to restore its edge and offensive momentum, was reluctant to change horses in mid-war. He rejected advice to take a leaf of army chiefs in other wars and place more experienced and gifted generals alongside the chief of the northern command. He was reminded that the deadly reverses of the 1973 Yom Kippur War were addressed by appointing former chief of staff Haim Barlev to the southern command to oversee Gen. Shmuel Gorodish.
The name that came up most recently was Maj.-Gen (res.) Gabi Ashkenzi, who headed the northern command until last year and knows the Hizballah arena like the palm of his hand. Gen. Halutz brushed these proposed changes aside, fearing the Yom Kippur analogy would prompt questions about the preparedness of the general staff as a whole for the Lebanon war, the appointments he approved in the last year and his repeated assertion that he sees no danger of conventional war in the IDF’s foreseeable future.
This misperception which dominated the consciousness of political and military decision-makers also colored the selection of senior commanders.
However, Tuesday, August 8, when Halutz saw the northern command was incapable of finishing the Bin Jubeil battle, he decided to send Gen. Kaplinsky, 49, into the breach. As former OC Central Command, Kaplinsky’s forte is the disposition of ground forces. He is a former commander of the Golani infantry brigade.
Kaplinsky needs to pull off the feat the late Moshe Dayan managed in 1967 on the eve of the Six-Day War – to pick up in short order the Israeli army’s once-acclaimed capabilities as a limber, versatile, fast-moving, innovative force that is crowned with success. After a campaign which has dragged on for too long with too much loss of life and too few successes, Israel thirsts for a breakthrough to victory.

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