Gabi Ashkenazi 19th Chief Of Staff It’s official. The 19th Chief Of Staff took office yesterday. Gabi comes from a very different part of the armed forces, Golani. Golani is an infantry brigade and a very down to earth one at that. Comparing that background to the resigning Air Force Chief Of Staff, Dan Halutz, is like comparing well… the earth and sky. The appointment ceremony was yesterday on television. Halutz, thanked everyone, specifically mentioned Ehud Olmert but ignored Amir Peretz. That was the second time he made a point of showing his anger at the Miniter of Defence. In an earlier goodbye speech he mentioned “getting shot in the back by his number 2”, the assumption made was that he meant Kaplinsky, his second in command but he corrected that and said that was not his intention. In fact he made a point of embracing Kaplinsky, who reportedly was extremly offended by the remark. In light of this speech yesterday, I get the feeling it was all meant for Amir Peretz.

There is no doubt that Dan Halutz is a great man. He has contributed almost 40 years of his life to the armed forces and when he felt responsible and accountable, he did the right thing. Unlike Amir Peretz, who is holding on to the position and refusing to take responsibility for the mismanagement of his office and the risk he presents to the country in this sensitive position. He has no place, right or know how for the position of Minister of Defence, and if he was half the man that Halutz was he would have been the first to step down.

Ashkenazi was briefly my commander in the army. I can’t say I know him. The only thing I can say is that he is a down to earth guy, can be tough and is considered “one of the guys” (he can also play a mean soccer game). I think that having the army leadership going from the Air Force to Golani is karma in action. This last war brought us all down to the ground and it makes sense that the man to lead the reorganization of the army should come from the Infantry Brigade and especially “Golani”, a brigade named after the Golan Heights. I hope for peace but let’s face it, there will be a next phase in the North. When the next conflict starts up, and it will, I am hoping we will have a strong army waiting “on the ground” as well as in the air.

It’s interesting that both Chiefs, the new and the old, were raised in Moshav Hagor. It’s a good sign, if judging from Halutz, they have good people up there.

In the ceremony yesterday Amir Peretz had trouble placing the ranks on Ashkenazi. Later Ashkenazi received a note from Halutz saying that he wll have to switch them a round, they were placed on his shoulders backwards… I think that’s really symbolic of the politicians in charge.