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New IAF chief warns enemies not to test Israel (JERUSALEM POST) By YAAKOV KATZ, JPOST.COM STAFF 05/15/12) Source: http://www.jpost.com/Defense/Article.aspx?id=269864
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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."
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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.
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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 infrastructure.
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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."
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"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."
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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."
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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 05/15/12)
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