New IDF Chief Nomination Ushers in Round of Appointments

The appointment of Yoav Galant as the next IDF chief of staff is expected to set off one of the largest reshuffles in the history of the General Staff.

Sunday's announcement that GOC Southern Command Yoav Galant will become the Israel Defense Forces' 20th chief of staff is expected to produce one of the largest reshuffles in the history of the General Staff. Most of the officers there will either take on new positions or retire.

The new appointments will be decided on in consultations between Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Galant and outgoing Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi.

IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, GOC Southern Command Yoav Galant, Defense Minister Ehud Barak
Tomer Appelbaum, Moti Kimche, Alon Ron

The next round of appointments will be extensive in part because many of the generals are already serving beyond the usual time allotted. The lack of turnover in the General Staff is attributed to Ashkenazi's unwillingness to make senior appointments and his inability to agree with Barak on who should take over each position.

Galant's appointment will create an immediate opening for the job of GOC Southern Command. In the coming months, Galant is expected to leave his post and enter a transitional period that will prepare him for the position of chief of staff, which he will officially assume in February.

In addition, GOC Northern Command Gadi Eizenkot said recently he did not intend to remain in the IDF if Galant were appointed chief of staff.

Galant's associates said on Sunday the new chief will make every effort to retain Eizenkot, an Ashkenazi loyalist who is also viewed as one of the General Staff's more experienced commanders. Galant is also keen to convince Eizenkot that the tensions of the recent race and the so-called Galant document are in the past.

To convince Eizenkot to stay, Galant will have to give him a position that will guarantee him a chance to become a candidate for chief of staff in four years. Two such possibilities include naming Eizenkot deputy chief of staff or appointing him director of Military Intelligence to replace Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, who is expected to retire after five grueling years.

Deputy to quit

The current deputy chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Benny Gantz, is almost certain to resign after being passed up for the top job. Two other candidates who vied to succeed Ashkenazi - GOC Central Command Avi Mizrahi and the IDF's military attache in the United States, Maj. Gen. Gadi Shamni - will also seek the position of deputy chief of staff.

Those who just lost out to Galant, particularly Eizenkot and Gantz, are among the names being mentioned as possible successors to Mossad chief Meir Dagan and Shin Bet security service head Yuval Diskin. Both men are expected to retire sometime within a year without having groomed a successor.

The leading candidates being mentioned to head the three soon-to-be-vacant regional commands are Maj. Gen. Tal Russo, head of the operations directorate, who is likely to replace Galant as GOC Southern Command; Maj. Gen. Sami Turgeman, commander of army headquarters; and GOC Home Front Command, Maj. Gen. Yair Golan.