The IDF and the Police After the Evacuation

The real and constant assignment of the army and police is not in Netzarim and Sa-Nur. This is an opportunity for reorganizing the system.

The real and constant assignment of the army and police is not in Netzarim and Sa-Nur. The troops and policemen should be commended for their performance last week, but Gaza is not the appropriate criterion, as the Entebbe rescue and bombing of Iraq's reactor did not prevent failures in Lebanon and the intifada. This is an opportunity for reorganizing the system. For example, the Border Police should be put in charge of securing the Green Line fence and preventing the smuggling of drugs from Jordan (the smuggling from Egypt pales by comparison).

Division 162, which is responsible for evacuating northern Samaria from its Jordan Valley base, has armored, mechanized and infantry brigades - the Nahal and Givati. The division replaced the Golan-based Division 36 at the top of the list, when the army transferred its focus from preparing for a large clash with the Syrian army to other fronts - two in the north (Syria and Lebanon) and in the territories.

While all eyes are on Sa-Nur and Homesh, the commander of Division 162, Brigadier General Tal Ruso, is busy with other military plans. Ruso, who used to command a reserve division, does not accept idees fixes held since the Yom Kippur War. He speaks of "urban" warfare, as distinct from "built-up area," because to him whether the target city is called Tehran, Damascus or Khan Yunis is insignificant. Ruso wants to have outmoded, obsolete rules reexamined. For example, if it is customary to operate two armored vehicles in certain parts of the territories, must both be tanks, or would it be sufficient to use an armored personnel carrier and a tank? In his opinion, the Israel Defense Forces must use fewer tanks, and those should be organized in a different way. One of the alternatives is to use only eight instead of 11 tanks per company, but with 15 crews, for easy turnover, and to have patrol and security missions without a tank.

Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Dan Halutz faces the challenge of speeding up necessary changes in the IDF's structure, on the basis of findings of teams he appointed and of officers like Ruso. In part, the changes are waiting for appointments to be made. When GOC Northern Command Major General Benny Gantz takes over the ground forces command, he will decide which changes he wants to make and whether he is interested in another major general beside him, as regulations provide.

Since the appointment during the War of Attrition of Shlomo Lahat as commander of the armored forces in Sinai, this arrangement of having a major general subject to a major general has proved awkward and problematic for both sides. Last decade, too, GOC Central Command Nehemia Tamari was less than thrilled when Judea and Samaria brigade commander Shaul Mofaz, his junior, received the rank of major general.

Gantz, who served for a while as major general under another major general (Gabi Ashkenazi in the Northern Command), is expected to show generosity to the brigadier general waiting at the head of the line, Ruso, Aviv Kochavi or Meir Kalifi-Amir.

Halutz must get rid of major generals who got stuck in the IDF general staff like nails without a head from the era of his predecessor, Moshe Ya'alon, and do so quickly. He will ask department heads that he does not hold in high esteem to quit after two years. The commander of the National Defense College, Eyal Ben-Reuven, who was disappointed by the appointment of other major generals to regional and ground forces commands, has announced his resignation.

Ben-Reuven has served in recent days as a silent consultant in Gaza for Brigadier General Uzi Moskowitz, commander of Division 340 and formerly his operations officer. Moskowitz's evacuation colleague, Brigadier General Gershon Hacohen of Division 36 is designated to command the college, as a lieutenant general. Unlike other officers, Hacohen aspired to this post and does not see it as an interim stop.

Halutz's position is better than that of Police Commissioner Moshe Karadi. The chief of staff has a deputy who manages the staff work. The commissioner has no deputy, nor was there a major general who coordinated the evacuation plan. Halutz also has more maneuvering space in senior appointments. Major generals who find their promotion blocked grumble but leave. Not so police major generals; they are wont to hang onto their jobs up to the age of 57, blocking the path of their underlings.

Karadi is considering organizing the National Police Headquarters in three branches - one for investigations and intelligence; one for policing, patrol and operations; and one for staff and logistics. But such reforms must be accompanied by a structural revolution. The police force is keeling under a bloated managerial layer. These managers must be replaced. The police must find a budgetary way to foster the professional ranks and reward them, without decorating their shoulders with even more kitschy tin symbols.