Yom Tov Samia's new book draws attention
January 27th, 2016, Granting the new book "Leadership in Moments of Truth" to The West Point's Dean Brigadier General Dr. TRAINOR together with Four Stars General Wesley Clark who wrote the forward to this book.
January 27th, 2016, Panel at West Point about Leadership together with Four Stars General Wesley Clark in front of 50 Cadets and 6 Professors of the Academy.
Article from JewishVoice Magazine Feb 09, 2016
The Book Foreword by Four-Star General (Retired) Wesley Clark
No modern nation has relied more on its armed forces than the state of Israel. From its war for independence in 1948 through its current struggles against terrorists, the history of Israeli Defense Forces and Israel are totally intertwined. Israel has depended on the Israel Defense Forces for its existence, for its security, for social integration of its diverse and growing population, as a source of cultural inspiration, economic achievements, and political leadership. Major General Yom Tov Samia’s book on leadership, based on solid scholarly work and replete with personal examples and testimonials, provides a compelling and insightful reflection on all these elements of Israel. His lessons are significant not only for his Israeli readers, but also for a much broader audience: for all those interested in the evolution of modern armed forces, the changing nature of warfare, the evolution of military institutions, and of course, for its reflections on the nature of leadership under prolonged stress.
Yom Tov’s biography reflects the journey of Israel, from scattered communities of largely East European, socialist-minded settlers, imbued with the Zionist spirit to seek their ancestral homeland, to a culturally diverse, modern industrial and military power, coursing with democratic vitality, and struggling with the social, cultural, economic, and security issues symptomatic of modern states; in some respects, even, Israel’s story provides a foretaste of the security issues that many Western countries are now grappling with. Yom Tov is one of eleven children, from a Sephardic Jewish family that immigrated into Israel from Libya in the 1950s. He joined the IDF as a soldier in 1972, rising throughout the ranks ultimately to Major General and command of the Southern region of the IDF, with responsibilities for Gaza Strip, the border with Egyptian Sinai, and part of the border with Jordan. After retiring in 2000, he worked in the private sector, leading large companies, and subsequently becoming an entrepreneur even while he continued duties as a reserve officer with the IDF, through the most recent operations in 2014.
His leadership lessons are broad and varied - ranging from training and integration of new recruits, to the management of civilian military relations and their impact on the armed forces. Along the way, Yom Tov takes us deep inside many of the most fascinating and, for the Western World, least understood aspect of Israel’s and the IDF’s journey,and into the modern problem of conflict and security operations among a civilian population. Certain aspects of Yom Tov’s memoir bear the closest study: his emphasis on military culture, for example, and how it is to be created and preserved. Here he deals with the IDF’s role as the cultural foundation for modern Israel, and the need to create a meritocratic institution recognizing and rewarding effectiveness, from a polyglot and socially diverse mixture of draftees. Another key aspect of Yom Tov’s leadership deals with the challenge of organizational creativity: how to achieve discipline and high standards, while encouraging team members to be thoughtful, creative and moral as well as physically courageous. Yom Tov sets a good example himself, in this respect, as he takes the reader through meticulous preparations and insightful learning in preparation for key operations when he was a battalion and brigade commander.
This is a man who has led from the front, and shared deeply in the risks of the soldiers he led. Additionally, his insights and experiences of operations in and around Gaza are particularly noteworthy for their focus on separating the enemy combatants from a civilian populace ranging from apathetic to openly hostile. These are lessons which Western armies must learn and relearn as they face the current challenges in the Mideast, and as they assist their own security forces at home.
It has been my privilege to visit Israel on a professional basis many times, both in uniform and as a businessman. I’ve met many of the renowned IDF leaders mentioned in the book, from Yitzhak Rabin to Ehud Barak, Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, Shaul Mofaz, and Gabi Ashkenazi. Some I’ve known well enough to consider good friends.
I cannot judge the details of Yom Tov’s recollections of them, or his assessments of their actions and impact. But the impact of the political upon the military sphere of endeavor, along with rivalries and clashes of ambitions, are always at the heart of the military profession, and Yom Tov’s insight and experiences provide rich tableaux for learning.
Military operations must always be directed to some political purpose, and they must be governed by the rules and guidelines to attain that purpose, whatever the underlying dynamic of conflict might be. Tamerlane may have effectively completed his conquests by scourging cities and erecting piles of skulls in testimony, but modern armies cannot and must not. International law, opinion, and democratic governance provide their own sets of restraints.
The overwhelming effectiveness of the IDF, its rapid adaptation to changing conditions of combat, quick adaptation of new technologies like unmanned aerial vehicles and heavily armored personnel carriers, and its extraordinary sensitivity to its own casualties have provided for Western nations and their armies a foretaste of the challenges to come. Much as some leaders strive to imbue the “warrior spirit” in their soldiers, the fierce and escalating violence which is warfare’s own dynamic must be tempered by respect and by the political aims which drive the operation. And it is in the interchange of political aims and restraints with the so-called “principles of war” that all of us who have grown up in the profession of arms have struggled with. Getting this right is both a matter of personalities and also a matter of prolonged education and reflection.
But, at the heart of the military-political interface, and top leadership, there is the matter of personalities. We all have them, and the higher our rank, the more exposed they are. Military men live for their achievements and their reputations - not for their paychecks and bonuses. Leaders are competitive, and none more so than the most
successful. How to manage the competitive spirit, and how to protect the troops and mission performance from rivalries and ambitions are timeless problems for military leaders, and the civilians who direct them and judge them. Hence there is much to be learned from Yom Tov’s candid descriptions of his own experiences in this realm.
Yom Tov’s leadership lessons reflect the themes that have marked the greatest successes of the IDF - innovative leadership from the front, careful preparation, risk taking, and courage. He has had a remarkable career, marked by courage, innovation, and thoughtful, highly principled leadership. It’s a record which he should be proud of, and with this translation from the Hebrew into English, the lessons he draws from his lifetime of experience are now available to the broader audience who seek them.