IDF Replaced Officer During Fighting After He Expressed Doubts Over Operation

Battalion commander felt rescue of downed tanks in daylight would expose his forces to Hezbollah missiles.

The commander of an armored battalion of reservists was relieved from command during the fighting in Lebanon at his own request. Senior IDF officers are set to discuss whether he should remain in his post.

The incident occured in a battalion of a reserves division on the eastern front in Lebanon.

In the course of an operation that commenced on August 9, a brigade-sized force, comprised mostly of reservists, began a nighttime offensive in the area of Marjayoun and al-Khiam. Several hours later, the battalion in question returned to the Israeli border. This all occured according to plan, a senior IDF source says.

During the operation, tanks in a different battalion were hit by anti-tank missiles and others were stuck in mud as a result of breakdowns.

In the morning hours, the battalion that had returned was ordered back into Lebanon to assist with the rescue of the marooned tanks.

The battalion commander expressed his dissatisfaction with the order because an operation in daylight would expose his tanks to Hezbollah missiles. The commander spoke with the Brigade and Division commanders and said he had doubts about continuing to command over the battalion.

At the IDF they are keen to stress that the officer did not refuse to obey the command, but rather "admitted" his capabilities. "He explained that he was finding it difficult to continue commanding his battalion, but he did not intend to go home. He will not receive a medal but he should also not be court martialed," a senior IDF source said.

To solve the problem, the previous battalion commander, who had retired a few months before the war, was called to take up the command of the battalion and joined the crew.

For now, the battalion commander continues to function in his post, but in the coming days senior officers will meet to discuss the issue.

The division commander says that the responsibility for what happened was his. "The mobilization of the reservists and their fighting are a source of pride. All the successes and mistakes stem from the way in which I commanded the forces and I am personally responsible for this. The men are the source of our strength. Even when weaknesses emerge because of the difficult fighting conditions, I support them in full."