1949 – IDF Service

In November 1949, Yitzhak Rabin was promoted to the position of commander of the battalion commanders’ course. Many of the first battalion commanders’ course participants were Palmach alumni, who Rabin had convinced to continue fulfilling command positions in the IDF, and thus preserve the spirit of the Palmach and its values. Rabin’s success in this position opened before him the pathway to promotions in the IDF.

In early 1951, he was promoted to Chief of Operations in the General Staff Branch. During this period, he stood out as an outstanding staff officer who was familiar with every detail in the many areas where he bore responsibility and was a senior partner in shaping the IDF’s defense doctrine.

As a candidate for senior command positions, he was sent in November 1952 to the United Kingdom to study at the British Army Staff College. Shortly following his return in 1953, Rabin was promoted by the new Chief of Staff, Moshe Dayan, as head of the Training Branch. In this position, he worked to integrate the experience gained in both the Palmach and the British Army, established the training infrastructure in the IDF, was one of the founders of the Command and Staff College (per the Hebrew acronym PUM), and set new standards for educating commanders.

In 1956, he was promoted to command the Northern Command. He was responsible, among other things, for securing Israeli control over demilitarized zones between Israel and Syria, preserving Israeli fishing rights in the Sea of Galilee, and defending the kibbutzim, moshavim, and other communities subject to shelling. During the October 1956 Sinai Campaign, he remained in the north to prepare the forces under his command in advance of a possible opening of an additional front.

In January 1958, when Haim Laskov was selected as Chief of Staff and Zvi Tsur, his deputy, Rabin sensed that his advancement in the military had been delayed and planned finally to leave the military for academic studies, but it was not to be. In April 1959, a radio broadcast mistakenly and without advanced knowledge announced the codenames of units recruited for a military exercise. The publication caused panic among the Israeli public and an emergency call-up of Egyptian and Syrian military units. Following the fiasco nicknamed “the Night of the Ducks,” the commander of the Operations Branch was relieved of duty, and Rabin was promoted to the position.