The commander of a reservist armor brigade whose conduct during the second Lebanon war was unsatisfactory will leave his command in the upcoming weeks and not in the summer, as originally planned.
GOC Northern Command was careful yesterday not to define the move as "relieving from duty," but decided that the officer will not be promoted or be allowed to take command of an active armor brigade. The brigade participated in fighting in the eastern front, in the region of Marjayoun, as part of a division-sized operation under the command of Brigadier General Erez Zuckerman.
The force was involved in fighting during the last week of the war when serious command and control problems emerged.
One of the force's battalions withdrew from Marjayoun without receiving specific orders from the brigade commander.
A number of tanks that tried to rescue another tank that was stuck in the field due to a technical failure were attacked with missiles, and a soldier was killed. The incident snowballed, and eventually the entire battalion became involved in rescue efforts. This was followed by a retreat to the border rather than a previously planned forward thrust to Marjayoun.
During a debriefing session held at division level, it emerged that the brigade commander had not authorized the battalion's retreat.
Moreover, due to the withdrawal, the brigade commander was left with his tank crew alone in Marjayoun, with just an armored personnel carrier supporting it.
In another incident, a battalion commander in the same brigade announced he could not handle the pressure, and asked to be relieved from command.
"Some of the missions ordered were simply not carried out," outgoing Chief of Staff Dan Halutz said earlier this week at a gathering of senior reservist officers in which lessons of the war were discussed.
"There is an imbalance between sticking with the mission and the value of human life," he continued. "It is unacceptable for a lauded brigade to stop its advance during a mission because it suffered one injured and one dead."
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