TEL AVIV (Feb. 2)
Maj. Gen. Dan Shomron, a versatile career soldier who commanded the airborne hostage rescue operation at Entebbe, Uganda, in 1976, was approved by the Cabinet Sunday as the next Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Force.
Shomron, 49, will succeed Lt. Gen. Moshe Levy after Independence Day next May to become the 13th IDF Chief of Staff. His appointment caps a military career which began in 1956 when, called up for duty, he volunteered for the paratroops.
Since then he has had experience in peacetime and war in the airborne and ground infantry, the armored corps and other combat branches of the IDF. He was decorated for bravery during the 1967 Six-Day War when he commanded a reconnaissance unit that was the first to break through Egyptian lines in the Gaza Strip and northern Sinai.
Born in 1937 at Kibbutz Ashdod Yaacov, Shomron is described by colleagues as an officer of exceptional bravery, innovative vision and extensive experience in the command and organization of military units both large and small.
He is considered eminently suited to guide the IDF into the last decade of the century when military forces will rely increasingly on high technology. Shomron has repeatedly expressed himself in favor of a small army equipped with the most sophisticated weaponry over a large force with less advanced equipment and methods.
He has spoken out against the Lavi jet fighter plane project on grounds that the money allotted to it would be better spent on purchasing state of the art equipment abroad, improved with Israel-made components.
As commander of the southern front in 1980, Shomron had the distasteful job of evacuating Jewish settlers from northern Sinai which was to be returned to Egypt under the terms of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty of 1979. He also played a major role in the redeployment of the IDF from Sinai to new bases in the Negev.
Shomron was studying at the University of California in Los Angeles when the Lebanon war broke out in June, 1982. He returned home immediately but was not given a command because of the opposition of then Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Rafael Eitan.
Shomron has not been a political general. But he has not refrained from criticizing fellow officers, including superiors, when he thought it was warranted. His most recent assignment was as head of the newly founded Ground Forces Command which he helped establish.