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  • Suez, 1973

    Trying to get a Non-WW2 thread in here with some life to it...

    The point has been made that the Egytians threw away a possible victory when they paused long enough for the Isrealis to deliver an effective counter-offensive in the Yom-Kippur war.

    What if they had gone Rommel-style, and charged straight for Gaza as soon as a couple of divisions had been assembled on the east side of the canal? The Syrian attack still looked threatening at that point, could they have over-run Isreal itself, and ended that nation's life that very week?

    Also, could they have landed troops near Gaza? They did have boats with Styx missles, that had already accounted for an Isreali Destroyer (a first) and the whole operation could have been pulled off at night, among a very friendly population.
    Submarines have never been able to fend off an amphibious invasion, Im not sure why, but subs do mcuh better at offensive operations, and were horribly innefective guarding the Phillipean Islands.
    Landing just a Regiment or two in Gaza might have been a Bridge Too Far, but it might have proven to be a terrible thorn in the side of a surprised Army that had already been thrown off balance... could the Isrealis have been tempted to throw away an Armored brigade in an unsupported assault on Gaza, as they were already doing in the Sinai front?

  • #2
    I do not think it would of went well for the Egytians. Rember when they did attack finally they got rolled up in short order once they left the SAM envelop that was projected from there side of the Suez. Israel would not of lost as many aircraft in those first few days. I am not sure how the Sagger anti tank missle would of performed in the meeting engagements they would of had with the early Israeli counter attacks.

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    • #3
      Yes, the "sword and shield" tactics were pretty static, but the Egyptians did have mobile launchers for both Saggers and SAMs.

      My argument is that they played it too safe, and got thier heads handed to them when they gave the enemy a chance to think about what they were doing.

      So, what if Saddat's army HAD over-run Isreal?
      Mass-murder?
      A negotiated settlement?
      Or something in between, and a lot less tension in the M.E. today, with a reduced Isreal (current borders, minus the Golan area) and Arabs with less of an ingrained inferiority complex... perhaps?

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      • #4
        In that environment air power was decisive. Once the Egyptians went out from under the protection of the large SAM batteries around the canal it was all over. Hand-held SAMs are more of a scare tool that a serious threat to a jet fighter. The Israelis nearly through the advantage away by counterattacking too early and too deep but got wise before they took too many losses.

        Victory in 1973 for the Arabs would have required investments into heavy, mobile AA like the Soviet armies in Europe had. But it is questionable whether the Soviets would have sold them any. Of course a couple squadrons of air superiority fighters would also do, but they are even less obtainable.

        I don't know enough about the local weather, but I don't think you can hope for a long enough period of non-fly weather in that area.

        Overall, the Soviets were willing to help Arab armies to a point. But they weren't willing to give them all the tools for a successful ground offensive. Wiping out Israel wasn't on the Soviets wish list.

        The only option left to the Arabs would have been to somehow make the Israelis **** off the West so that they stop giving them planes and parts. Doesn't make for a good powerpoint presentation in the Cairo military academy.
        Last edited by Redwolf; 24 Nov 08, 17:37.

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        • #5
          I think there's something to be said for the scenario the OP poses. The Israeli position on the Golan was extremely vulnerable and, had the Egyptians pushed hard, they might have forced the Israelis into some rash decisions. Sure, they might have been easily defeated, but that happened anyway.

          I agree that the Egyptians made a mistake.

          The only danger would be that the Egyptians actually succeed and Israel decides to use it's nuclear option.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Exorcist View Post
            Trying to get a Non-WW2 thread in here with some life to it...

            The point has been made that the Egytians threw away a possible victory when they paused long enough for the Isrealis to deliver an effective counter-offensive in the Yom-Kippur war.

            What if they had gone Rommel-style, and charged straight for Gaza as soon as a couple of divisions had been assembled on the east side of the canal? The Syrian attack still looked threatening at that point, could they have over-run Isreal itself, and ended that nation's life that very week?
            Its not necessary they charge straight for Gaza. Or advance out from under the anti aircraft protection. It would be enought to recognize the gap between the Egyptian 2d & 3rd Armys for the danger it was, and to properly deploy the reserves to counter attack the Israli attacks. In his auto biographphy Anwar Sadat makes it clear he and the others of the Egyptian military command failed to react properly to the Israli thrust between the Egyptian Armys. Their reserves were committed to slowly, to late, and in small groups. Preventing the Isralis from crossing the cannal, cutting off the 3rd Army, and inflicitng severe casualties on the IDF would have been suffcient to gain a stratigic victory.

            With the isarali counter attacks repulsed or failing to gain anything of operational significance Isreal would be be in a much shakier position for negotiating a cease fire. As it was the Israli leaders were willing to concede the east bank of the Suez cannal and allow the Egyptin Armys to remain where they stood. With their counter attacks fialed Israel is in a much more uncomfortable position.

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            • #7
              I'd think that if the Egyptians had been able to move forward (better logistics, better officer corps, having a plan, etc.) it is unlikely they would have overrun Israel per se, but even if the threat of this would happen the USA and the USSR would have stepped in to stop any further advance. the superpowers would not want to go to war for israel or arab nationalism.

              but I seriously doubt that Egypt had the means to push much further - the logistics would crumble.

              what Egypt could have done is mount better defence (i.e. defence in depth) with mechanized/armor mobile reserves to counter the Israeli counter-offensive that was sure to come and definitely get a better air force.

              yes, landings would be a good idea, landing of well trained-SOFs...

              but all this could well have been well beyond the training of the egyptians then.

              that said. they did fight well and the Israelis had a tough time in '73. many recent books stop to claim this war as an Israeli victory, but rather a strategic egyptian victory. it did cost Saddat's life in the end.
              "Freedom cannot exist without discipline, self-discipline, and rights cannot exist without duties. Those who do not observe their duties do not deserve their rights."--Oriana Fallaci

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              • #8
                Originally posted by piero1971 View Post

                but I seriously doubt that Egypt had the means to push much further - the logistics would crumble.
                I'll have to read Sadats bio again to check this, but I recall the limits of logistics was the reason he gave for stopping after crossing the cannal. The precise stopping line was dictated by the anti aircraft covering fires. But, even if it had been possible to create a mobile anti air defense the supply limit would have prevented a worthwhile advance across the Sinai.

                Originally posted by piero1971 View Post
                what Egypt could have done is mount better defence (i.e. defence in depth) with mechanized/armor mobile reserves to counter the Israeli counter-offensive that was sure to come and definitely get a better air force.
                Aside from Sadat I've came across several military writers who described a substantial Egyptian reserve, on both sides of the cannal. And, the use of the reserve in small fragments is frequently mentioned. The largest unit mentioned as counter attacking on the east side of the cannal was the 1st Tank divsion. Neither description of this which I read makes it clear if the entire divsion was committed to the attack.

                While in his book Sadat accepted ultimate responsibility for the failure to repel the Israli attack he identified the the role of Shazali, the Egyptian Minister of Defense as central. The Egyptians had adopted a highly centralized command system which placed a large portion of the operational decisions in Shazalis hands. The commanders of the three Egyptian armys were not the decsion makers within their area of operations . Rather they were executors or organizers of the operational decsions made by the Minister of Defense. Shazalis unwillingness to commit decisively to a counter attack to the Israli penentration of the gap between the 2d & 3rd Army prevented the Army comanders from acting decisively. From the tone of Sadats description I got the impression he regreted not dismissing and replacing Shazali at the that critical moment.
                Last edited by Carl Schwamberg; 26 Nov 08, 18:10.

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                • #9
                  Doesn't matter how good/bad or numerous your army is. If it is badly directed, it will lose.

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                  • #10
                    They didn't pause to regroup.

                    Their goal in advance was to take a significant-enough strip of land and force us to give up the Sinai peninsula.

                    Egypt's army was not yet ready to try and take on the entire country.

                    The Syrians, however, got to greedy.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Golani View Post
                      They didn't pause to regroup.

                      Their goal in advance was to take a significant-enough strip of land and force us to give up the Sinai peninsula.

                      Egypt's army was not yet ready to try and take on the entire country.

                      The Syrians, however, got to greedy.
                      Can you elaborate? The details behind your renark would be welcome.

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                      • #12
                        Well I obviously made that remark to sound abit scandalous to draw attention, but here's my 2 cent in a nutshell:

                        We (Israel) feel safe knowing that Egypt and Syria won't have sufficient resources to strike us agin untlil at least 1975, taking into consideration that their intended objective, as always, will be the destruction of Israel (what I'm saying is based on acctual intel reports, if I write something that is an assumption I'll note that-such as the following).

                        Sa'adat (spell?) knows that, he is also known to be a risk taker, that's why I find it hard to believe that he had any misgivings regarding attacking in full speed towards Tel-Aviv if he would have wanted it, so he devises a plan to gain back Sinai and more importantly the respect and honor his country lost after 1967 for an advantage position he could use for invading the heart of Israel in the future.

                        He knows Israel has no attraction to Sinai other than a defensive depth and that if he'll show the Israeli people how bloody holding Sinai can be, they will pressure the government to give it up.

                        That's why, for example, there was no real attampts to take the main passes of Sinai (Mitle, Gidi...) and hold them with AT units that proved to be so effective aginst our armor.

                        That's why Egyptian army took over most of the military instllation on the suez canal regardless of how non-important they were strategically(and how much it went aginst the Soviet doctrine they practiced, as opposed to the Syrians who were after impailing Israel and baypassed the outposts on the boarder) and simply stopped for themselves.

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                        • #13
                          Oded... thanks for that.

                          Sa'adat. is one rendering of the name in Latin letters. I use the contracted rendering more common here in the US. Thats the way it is prited in the US version of his suto biography.

                          I have no idea what it would have taken to form a mobile army for the Egyptians to use to strike as far as the Sinai passes or beyond. I'd guess that organizing and equipping such a force would not go unnoticed by Israli intel. analysis.
                          Last edited by Carl Schwamberg; 27 Nov 08, 11:03.

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                          • #14
                            I just used the name we use here, It's hard to translate names so I just wrote it the way it sounds to me...

                            Don't bet on the early 70's Israeli intel, with all do respect, they proved what they where worth...
                            Infect from all the anlysis back than, just the lower ranking closer to the front ones actually warned about the upcoming war, the higher ranking ones dismissed it as a big arab countries field exercise.

                            And lastly I dont think mobilizing such a force to delay and/or stop armor columns in the sinai passes would take much effort.

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                            • #15
                              Interesting. I knew there was a failure in intelegence analysis, and not just by the Iralis. US leaders were caught off guard as well.

                              Originally posted by Golani View Post
                              And lastly I dont think mobilizing such a force to delay and/or stop armor columns in the sinai passes would take much effort.
                              I was thinking of a larger army size group, meant to go there and stay against a substantial counter strike. That would require a considerable supply transport, and the non existant mobile anti air weapons to protect it. But if I am reading your post correctly you are refering to a smaller unit designed as a delaying or blocking mission. Correct?

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