- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 14, 2006

JERUSALEM — Retired Israeli generals are demanding that they be brought back into service for military investigations and operational restructuring that are certain to follow the “embarrassing” performance of the Israeli ground forces in Lebanon.

Retired Maj. Gen. Uri Saguy, who led Israeli military intelligence in the mid-1990s, and retired Maj. Gen. Haim Erez, who commanded the first tank force to cross the Suez Canal in the Yom Kippur War, met in recent days with the chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, to ask that retired generals be included in IDF investigations of the monthlong war with the Shi’ite Hezbollah militia.

“If the chief of staff doesn’t do this,” Gen. Saguy said earlier this week, “we will turn to the political level. We are really concerned. We’re talking about the security of the state, and we have to lay aside egos. This isn’t the private army of the chief of staff or ours.”

Another prominent retiree, former IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon, called yesterday for the resignation of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and Gen. Halutz.

Gen. Saguy, who is widely respected and is normally restrained in his public comments, has been unusually critical of the high command since the war ended last month.

He hold reporters earlier this week that he had no complaints about the performance of the air force and navy in the war but was deeply troubled by the performance of the army and its commanders, which he described as “embarrassing.”

He cited not only operational mistakes, but also structural changes by the general staff. He did not elaborate.

Gen. Halutz met with about 100 retired generals last week to discuss the war. He took notes but did not offer a direct answer to the generals’ request to be brought back into service.

Gen. Saguy said there were generals who were willing to return to active duty — even at reduced rank — to help rebuild the army, down to brigade level.

Gen. Halutz is to meet with the generals again today to permit those who did not have a chance to speak the last time to have their say.

“If we don’t get a reply from him to our demands at this meeting,” said Gen. Saguy, “we will not sit still.”

Gen. Yaalon’s comments, published in yesterday’s editions of the Ha’aretz newspaper, were more direct.

Gen. Yaalon held Mr. Olmert responsible for an ill-fated battle that killed 33 Israeli soldiers in the final hours of the war. The sole purpose of the operation was to make it appear that Israel had won, he told the newspaper.

“That was a spin move,” Gen. Yaalon said. “It had no substantive security-political goal, only a spin move. It was meant to supply the missing victory picture. You don’t do that.”

When asked whether Mr. Olmert has to resign, Gen. Yaalon replied: “Yes. He can’t say he didn’t know.”

Gen. Halutz also must resign for “failing in the management of the war,” Gen. Yaalon said, and Mr. Peretz should be replaced because he does not have enough security experience.

Another retired general, Amram Mitzna, told Israel Radio that it had been a mistake to appoint a former commander of the air force as the IDF chief of staff, where he also was commander of ground forces.

It also was a mistake, Gen. Mitzna said, to have appointed as defense minister a former labor leader who had no knowledge of the defense establishment.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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