´There is no room in the Middle East for the weak´ (JERUSALEM POST) By JPOST.COM STAFF, YAAKOV KATZ 05/14/12)
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Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel assumed command of the Israel Air Force on
Monday, saying at an official ceremony that "there is no room in the
Middle East for the weak."
Eshel, who previously headed the IDF Planning Directorate, took
command of the IAF from Maj.- Gen. Ido Nehushtan, who served four
years in the post.
The appointment of a new air force chief traditionally makes
headlines, but this time it is particularly intriguing due to the
possibility that the government will order the next commander to
oversee a strike on Iran’s well-protected and distant nuclear
Speaking at Hazor IAF base said that "Israel is in the midst of a fog
of uncertainty," adding that "the IDF is committed to ensuring the
political leadership as much maneuverability as possible."
"A strong IDF... is an insurance policy for a Jewish and democratic
state of Israel," Eshel said. "The IAF is strong, and it is ready to
cope with any scenario."
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz also spoke at the ceremony,
saying: "Looking to the future at the threats that are forming all
around us from near and far, it is incumbent upon the IDF and the IAF
to be able to respond with strength to any possible scenario."
Eshel served as deputy commander of the IAF from 2006 to 2008 under
Maj.-Gen. Eliezer Shkedy. Before that, he was head of the IAF’s Air
Wing, commander of the Tel Nof air base and head of the IAF
Operations Division. Locker is said to be a candidate to replace
Eshel or serve as the IDF attaché to the United States.
The father of three and a graduate of Auburn University in Alabama
and the Israeli National Defense College, Eshel volunteered for
flight training in 1977. After graduating from the prestigious and
arduous course, he quickly climbed the ranks.
He flew A-4 Skyhawks during the first Lebanon War and later became
commander of an F-4 Phantom squadron. Eshel became renowned for the
IAF’s 2003 Auschwitz flyover.
Within the IDF, he has enjoyed the respect of his counterparts for
his close-to three decades of service, during which he spearheaded a
revolutionary improvement in the level of inter-operability between
the IAF and ground forces.
Eshel recently voiced concern over the possible consequences of
Iran’s success in obtaining a nuclear weapon, claiming it would
severely impair Israel’s operational freedom. He also warned of the
possibility that Syria’s chemical weapons would be obtained by
terrorist groups like Hezbollah.
Eshel´s appointment was surrounded by controversy amid reports that
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was pressuring Gantz to tap his
military adviser, Maj.-Gen. Yohanan Locker, a former deputy IAF
commander, for the position. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post
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