IDF Ombudsman General Yitzchak Brik has once again warned that the IDF, in his opinion, is unprepared for the challenges it faces. Brik spoke Wednesday before the Knesset Oversight Committee, telling MKs that he was concerned that Israel may “repeat the catastrophe we had before the Yom Kippur War. The situation is serious enough that we need an external investigative committee, such as the Winograd Committee” which investigated the IDF’s level of preparedness during the Second Lebanon War.
According to many historians, the heads of the IDF claimed before the Yom Kippur War that they were ready for every eventuality, and that it was unlikely that Syria or Egypt would attack Israel, as they realized that the IDF had superior firepower and manpower. Brik told the committee that the claims by IDF leaders today echo those claims – but as an army insider, he knew that the army was not ready to meet major challenges by Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran. “I know the IDF better than any general in the army today,” Brik said. “We are facing a catastrophe akin to that before the Yom Kippur War, and I don’t want a repeat of that.”
Brik has been a longtime critic of top IDF brass. In November, Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkott said after a joint exercise between ground soldiers and the Air Force that the IDF is in as good shape as it has ever been. Commenting on the exercises, Eisenkott’s aide, Colonel Kobi Heller, said that “soldiers and officers exhibited a high degree of professionalism and this exercise proves that they are prepared for any scenario.”
In response, Brik said in a series of messages to members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that “all of the things you have been relying upon in terms of the country’s defense based on your conversations with top officials will not give you the real picture. Many of you don’t understand the situation. Many officers base their comments on inaccurate information, and those who know the truth are afraid to speak. All the slide shows that the army shows you cannot explain the seriousness of the gaps in the way it is run – with the lack of discipline, the failure to carry out orders, the lack of following up on operations, the organizational issues, and other problems.”
Commenting on Wednesday’s session, Committee chairperson MK Shelly Yechimovich said that although many people in the army were critical of Brik’s stance – with good reason – “I see no reason to silence the critical voices, especially when they come from the establishment itself and from a man with deep knowledge and vast experience, who is thinking only of the good of the country. Criticism and alternative views are the lifeblood of a functioning system. We have on occasion quieted those critics, and paid a price for it.”
In response to Brik’s comments, the IDF said in a statement that the army “is prepared for war, all of the officers say so, from the Chief of Staff to division heads. We agree with many of the details” of Brik’s criticism, “and are working on correcting them.”