JERUSALEM -- Israel has appointed a plain-speaking combat veteran to command the war in Lebanon after a 30-year career mostly focused on fighting Hezbollah guerrillas.
In a sudden shake-up, Major General Moshe Kaplinski takes over for Major General Udi Adam, the commander of the northern front, as the senior battlefield officer.
Military analysts said Adam was seen as too cautious to score a decisive victory over Hezbollah. By sidelining Adam, Israel's military and political leadership also may have tried to answer critics of the army's failure to stop the relentless rocketing of northern Israel despite a month of fighting.
While Adam's military roots are in the Armored Corps, the 49-year-old Kaplinski's background in the infantry may be more suited to a ground offensive, especially in view of Hezbollah's recent success with antitank missiles.
In 1976, Kaplinski enlisted in the Golani Brigade, an infantry unit based in northern Israel with a history of battle with Syria and with irregular forces in Lebanon.
He was commander of the brigade's reconnaissance unit in 1982, the year Israel invaded Lebanon to drive out the PLO and pushed all the way to the outskirts of Beirut. Kaplinski was wounded early in the fighting but returned to the war; Israel occupied southern Lebanon for 18 years.
Kaplinski was a close associate of Ariel Sharon and was appointed his military secretary after Sharon, a former general, became prime minister in 2001.