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Ron Ben-Yishai: Strong message to Iran

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Appointment of offensive-minded Galant as army chief sends clear Israeli message.

By Ron Ben-Yishai

Major-General Yoav Galant’s most prominent characteristic as a military man is his tendency to choose offense over other combat approaches. This was true on the tactical level, when Galant commanded the Flotilla 13 Navy commando unit, and it was also manifested through his strategic approach to resolving problems stemming from Hamas’ rule in Gaza.

Had it been up to him, Operation Cast Lead would have been launched a year to a year and a half earlier. He wouldn’t have waited until December 2009. Galant also attempted to convince Defense Minister Barak, Chief of Staff Ashkenazi, and his colleagues at General Staff Headquarters to implement an operational plan that was much broader and more ambitious than the one carried out in Operation Cast Lead. His plan was supposed to not only put an end to the rocket barrages directed at southern Israel, but also to terminate Hamas’ rule in Gaza.

Yet Galant’s proposals were rejected, by the defense minister among others, and the plan that was used in the operation was relatively “thin” and limited in scope. Barak took notice of Galant precisely because of the latter’s offensive approach. The defense minister’s decision to recommend that the government appoint the quiet, introverted general as the 20th chief of staff in IDF history conveys a clear, sharp message: The State of Israel does not intend to remain idle and wait to be attacked by rockets, missiles, and possibly unconventional weapons.

Should one of these strategic threats be realized, or be close to realization, the IDF will be utilized in an offensive, decisive manner and in full force in order to thwart or minimize the threat. This message is aimed not only for the IDF and for Israel’s citizens, but also for states such as Syria and Iran, for Hezbollah, and for the US Administration and European states as well.

Ashkenazi’s antithesis

The above approach is also accepted by the Ashkenazi-led current General Staff headquarters. The difference between Ashkenazi and Galant has to do with the decision-making process, and mostly with the willingness to take risks. Because of these differences, which culminated in bitter disputes between the two, Ashkenazi and Galant became rivals.

Galant is almost the antithesis of the cautious approach that characterizes Ashkenazi and made the current army chief so popular not only among the Israeli public, but in Washington as well. Barak, who often repeats the mantra “all options are on the table” in the Iranian context, making pilgrimages to see Ashkenazi in the hopes of finding a listening ear for the pleas to put off an Iran strike. We can assume this phenomenon will not repeat itself with Galant at the helm.  As to Galant’s skill as a military man, it appears nobody disputes the fact that he’s a suitable, fitting army chief appointment. Indeed, he only led one regional command and did not serve as deputy chief of staff, yet he has been credited with dozens of successful operations, which he led at various levels – including the successfully management of the Gaza war in his role as Southern Command chief.

Galant the person is a level-headed, restrained, and stubborn man. He is the strong, silent type of natural leader. His relatively old age, 52, also adds to his sense of authority. He is very rarely heard raising his voice or laughing out loud. However, those who don’t like him include many people who claim that he uses his authority to sow fear among objectors, that he’s arrogant, and that he comes up with creative ways to handle and neutralize his rivals.  In short, Galant – just like Ashkenazi – will be the kind of army chief that even major-generals would be scared to disagree with, not to mention disobey.

(Source: Ynet)

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Written by Theophyle

August 23, 2010 at 9:42 am

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