Monday, August 21, 2006

Reservists of the ISRAELI DEFENSE FORCE weigh in

Haaretz publishes the full text of a petition of complaint filed by the "Spearhead Brigade" of the IDF about their recent Sweepus Interruptus campaign in South Lebanon, through which effort the security of Israel from terrorist assault by Hezbollah was NOT achieved.

I provide it here in full, having been so struck by the impression that, with a few substitutions of critical nouns [place names and military titles] I suspect a great many of the rank and file, and of the officer corps, of the American military now or ever in Iraq would readily sign on to the wording of this statement if directed to the office of the Commander-in-Chief and his Secretary of Defense. (The resignation of the latter was just yesterday called for by increasingly independent Senator Joe Lieberman, marginalized Democrat of Connecticut. I concur completely, and, no, it's not too late to do any good.)

The IDF speaks:

The following is the text of a petition signed by IDF reservists who served in the Spearhead Brigade in Lebanon, sent to Defense Minister Amir Peretz and IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz in protest at the handling of the war by the government and senior military officials:
We, fighters and commanders at the Spearhead [Hod Hachanit] Brigade, were called up to enlist under an emergency mobilization order [Tzav 8] on July 30, 2006. Our attendance was complete in all battalions.

As we were signing on the battle equipment and weapons, we knew that we were signing for much more. We left behind wives and children, girlfriends and families. We put aside our jobs and livelihoods; we were prepared to carry out our mission under the most difficult of conditions, in heat, thirst or hunger.

At the back of his mind, each and every one of us knew, that for the just cause of protecting the citizens of Israel, we would even put our lives on the line.

But there was one thing we were not and would not be willing to accept: We were unwilling to accept indecisiveness. The war's aim, which was not defined clearly, was even changed in the course of the fighting.

The indecisiveness manifested itself in inaction, in not carrying out operational plans, and in canceling all the missions we were given during the fighting. This led to prolonged stays in hostile territory, without an operational purpose and out of unprofessional considerations, without seeking to engage in combat with the enemy.

The "cold feet" of the decision-makers were evident everywhere. To us the indecisiveness expressed deep disrespect for our willingness to join the ranks and fight and made us feel as though we had been spat on, since it contradicts the principles and values of warfare upon which we were trained at the Israel Defense Forces.

The heavy feeling that in the echelons above us there is nothing but under-preparation, insincerity, lack of foresight and inability to make rational decisions, leads to the question - were we called up for nothing?

We are now on the day after, and it seems that the immorality and the absence of any shame are the fig-leaves to be used in order to cover up for the blunders. The blunders of the past six years and the under-preparation of the army have been carried on our backs - the backs of the fighters. In order to face the next battle prepared - and this may happen soon - a thorough and fundamental change must take place.

The crisis of confidence between us as fighters and the higher echelons will not be resolved without a thorough and worthy investigative commission under the auspices of the state. When the commission completes its task, conclusions must be drawn both on the level of strategic planning and national security, and on the personal level of the parties involved.

We paid a heavy price in order to fight and come out of the battle victorious, and we feel this has been denied of us. We will all attend calls to enlist in the future for any mission we will be required to complete, but we would like to know that these missions will be part of a clear objective and will be carried out by striving to engage in combat.

As soldiers and citizens we expect a response at your earliest convenience,

We the undersigned

Fighters and officers of the Spearhead Brigade
Israel is a small country in which basically each and every c
itizen is in a "neighbour" relationship with all other citizens, and on the whole they have a crystal clear sense of every minute of their days being taken up in the task of their personal and national survival. America is too big and unwieldy a country and a culture to achieve a similar unity of purpose, and the production of such a statement as that above would be interpreted as simple factionalism, and perhaps unbecoming whining-- or, alternatively, as some kind of earth-shaking revolution and lip-foaming endorsement of mindless pacificism. Neither of these would do anybody a lick of good.

But the statement is food for thought. And I bet you a cookie (as a brilliant but, then, impecunious room-mate of mine used to say, having nothing more valuable to wager) it would taste satisfying, even sweet, on the lips of many a soldier and Marine who has felt the reverberation, and witnessed the carnage, of the IED in the Iraqi sand.