1969-1970: War of Attrition - History

1969-1970: War of Attrition - History


We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

> World History > Middle East > 1962- Algeria Granted Independence

1962- Algerian Granted Independance

Algerian Nationalists organized in the FLN (Front de Liberation National) began an armed rebellion against French rule in Algeria. The rebellion gained momentum throughout the 1950's. After DeGaulle became President of France in 1959, he offered Algeria the option of a referendum to determine whether the people wanted independence from France. Cease-fire negotiations began between the government and the FLN.

French Nationalists attempted to derail the peace process staging two revolts in Algeria: the first in 1960 and the second in 1961 by the OAS (Organization de L'Armee Secrete). The revolt by the OAS was suppressed within a few days, but the OAS continued to oppose the independence of Algeria until the bitter end.

On July 1st, Algerians voted overwhelmingly for independence. On July 3rd, Algeria declared its independence. In September, Be Bella became Premier.


1969-1970: War of Attrition - History

Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and Brig. General Raful Eitan (1968)

The Arab states suffered a great loss of credibility following the June 1967 Six Day War when they lost badlyto the much smaller Israeli forces. This was especially true for Egypt which had to endure Israeli troops entrenched on the east bank of the Suez Canal. the The canal was closed to shipping, and Israel was occupying the Sinai, a large piece of Egyptian territory. Israel built the Bar Lev Line, strong fortifications along the Suez Canal defense line. In addition to hostilities with Egypt, the War of Attritionincluded attacks along all three fronts (Egypt, Syria/Lebanon and Jordan) ever since the June 1967 cease-fire. For example, terrorists continuously infiltrated into the Jordan Valley, leading to IDF helicopter-borne search operations.


Nasser responded by maintaining a constant state of military activity along the canal–the so-called War of Attrition, Various dates are given for the start of this war, but it reallybegan immediately after the cease fire of the Six Day war, in July of 1967. There was shellingand sniper fire along the Suez front continuously, with escalating activity which peaked from late1968 through August 1970. The period included a naval battle on October 21, 1967, when Egypt sank the Israeli destroyer Eilat, killing 47, with the first successful employment of antiship missiles with homing warheads.

Nassar was determined to test Israel’s ability and determination to hold onto its gains from the June 1967 Six Day War. Given the wide disparity in the populations of Israel and Egypt, Israel could not long tolerate trading casualties one-for-one with the Egyptians. Therefore, the Israeli government, led by Golda Meir, pursued a policy of “asymmetrical response”– retaliation on a scale far exceeding the individual attack.

On March 3, 1969, Egyptian President Gamal Abd El-Nasser announced that the ceasefire agreement with Israel was null and void. The Egyptians opened a heavy artillery barrage along the entire length of the Canal on March 8, 1969, in a well-planned and premeditated offensive. In April, the Egyptians advanced two SA-2 missile batteries to the Canal, limiting the IAF’s freedom of action in the skies. In early July of 1969, the IAF initiated a series of air battles against Egypt’s MiGs near the Suez. About 20 MiGs were shot down in these dogfights. From July 20th onwards, the IAF began a series of attacks against Egypt’s SAMs. The IAF carried out roughly 500 sorties against the SAMs, until – by late November – they had been crippled.

In an attempt to pressure the Egyptians to stop the fighting, the IAF began attacking strategic targets deep within Egypt. Between January and April 1970, 118 sorties were carried out against radar stations, SAMs and military camps in Egypt.

In March 1970 the Soviet Union began to install in Egypt SA-3 missile batteries manned by Soviet personnel. In April it became known that Soviet pilots were flying operational missions from air bases in Egypt. The heavy involvement ofthe Soviets in Egypt and the United States support of Israel increased the chance ofa super-power confrontation in the Middle East. To avoid this, the US became more active in attempting to reach a cease-fire agreement (See the Rogers Plan).

On August 7th 1970, Israel and Egypt accepted the American proposal, that led to a ninety-day cease-fire between the sides. But subsequent US efforts to negotiate an interim agreement to open the Suez Canal and achieve disengagement of forces were unsuccessful.

On August 7, 1970 the Soviets and Egyptians deployed sophisticated ground-to-air SAM-2 and SAM-3 missiles in the restricted 32-mile-deep zone along the west bank of the Suez Canal,in a 78-mile band between the cities of Ismailia and Suez. This was a clear violation of the cease-fire agreement, which barred the introduction or construction of any military installations in this area.


Contents

Israel's victory in the Six-Day War left the entirety of the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula up to the eastern bank of the Suez Canal under Israeli control. Egypt was determined to regain Sinai, and also sought to mitigate the severity of its defeat. Sporadic clashes were taking place along the cease-fire line, and Egyptian missile boats sank the Israeli destroyer INS Eilat on October 21 of the same year.

Egypt began shelling Israeli positions along the Bar Lev Line, using heavy artillery, MiG aircraft and various other forms of Soviet assistance with the hope of forcing the Israeli government into concessions. [22] Israel responded with aerial bombardments, airborne raids on Egyptian military positions, and aerial strikes against strategic facilities in Egypt.

The international community and both countries attempted to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict. The Jarring Mission of the United Nations was supposed to ensure that the terms of UN Security Council Resolution 242 would be observed, but by late 1970, it was clear that this mission had been a failure. Fearing the escalation of the conflict into an "East vs. West" confrontation during the tensions of the mid-Cold War, the American president, Richard Nixon, sent his Secretary of State, William Rogers, to formulate the Rogers Plan in view of obtaining a ceasefire.

In August 1970, Israel, Jordan, and Egypt agreed to an "in place" ceasefire under the terms proposed by the Rogers Plan. The plan contained restrictions on missile deployment by both sides, and required the cessation of raids as a precondition for peace. The Egyptians and their Soviet allies rekindled the conflict by violating the agreement shortly thereafter, moving their missiles near to the Suez Canal, and constructing the largest anti-aircraft system yet implemented at that point in history. [22] [23]

The Israelis responded with a policy which their Prime Minister, Golda Meir, dubbed "asymmetrical response", wherein Israeli retaliation was disproportionately large in comparison to any Egyptian attacks. [22]

Following Nasser's death in September 1970, his successor, Anwar Al-Sadat, continued the ceasefire with Israel, focusing on rebuilding the Egyptian army and planning a full-scale attack on the Israeli forces controlling the eastern bank of the Suez Canal. These plans would materialize three years later in the Yom Kippur War. Ultimately, Israel would return Sinai to Egypt after the two nations signed a peace treaty in 1979.

Various military historians have commented on the war with differing opinions. Chaim Herzog notes that Israel withstood the battle and adapted itself to a "hitherto alien type of warfare." [24] Ze'ev Schiff notes that though Israel suffered losses, she was still able to preserve her military accomplishments of 1967 and that despite increased Soviet involvement, Israel had stood firm. [25]

Simon Dunstan notes that, although Israel continued to hold the Bar Lev Line, the war's conclusion "led to a dangerous complacency within the Israeli High Command about the resolve of the Egyptian armed forces and the strength of the Bar-Lev Line." [19] On the tactical level, Kenneth Pollack notes that Egypt's commandos performed "adequately" though they rarely ventured into risky operations on a par with the daring of Israel's commandos, [26] Egypt's artillery corps encountered difficulty in penetrating the Bar-Lev forts and eventually adopted a policy of trying to catch Israeli troops in the exterior parts of the forts. [27]

The Egyptian Air Force and Air Defense Forces performed poorly. [26] Egyptian pilots were rigid, slow to react and unwilling to improvise. [28] According to U.S. intelligence estimates, Egypt lost 109 aircraft, most in air-to-air combat, while only 16 Israeli aircraft were lost, most to anti-aircraft artillery or SAMs. [28] It took a salvo of 6 to 10 SA-2 Egyptian anti-aircraft missiles to obtain a better than fifty percent chance of a hit. [28]

July 1, 1967: An Egyptian commando force from Port Fuad moves south and takes up a position at Ras el 'Ish, located 10 miles south of Port Said on the eastern bank of the Suez Canal, an area controlled by the Israelis since the ceasefire on June 9, 1967. An Israeli armored infantry company attacks the Egyptian force. The Israeli company drives off the Egyptians but loses 1 dead and 13 wounded. [29] However, another source claims that an Israeli attack on Port Fuad was repulsed. [19] According to Zeev Maoz, the battle was decided in favor of the Egyptians. [30]

July 2, 1967: The Israeli Air Force bombs Egyptian artillery positions that had supported the commandos at Ras Al-'Ish. [31]

July 4, 1967: Egyptian Air Force jets strike several Israeli targets in Sinai. An Egyptian MiG-17 is shot down. [32]

July 8, 1967: An Egyptian Air Force MiG-21 is shot down by Israeli air defenses while on a reconnaissance mission over el-Qanatra. Two Su-7s equipped with cameras are then sent out to carry out the mission, and manage to complete several turns over Sinai without any opposition. Two other Su-7s are sent for another reconnaissance mission hours later, but are attacked by Israeli Air Force fighter jets. One Su-7 is shot down. [32]

July 11–12, 1967: Battle of Rumani Coast – The Israeli Navy destroyer INS Eilat and two torpedo boats sink two Egyptian torpedo boats off the Rumani coast. No crewmen on the Egyptian torpedo boats are known to have survived, and there were no Israeli casualties. [33]

July 14, 1967: Artillery exchanges and aerial duels erupt near the Suez Canal. Seven Egyptian fighter aircraft are shot down. [34]

July 15, 1967: An Israeli Air Force Mirage III is shot down by an Egyptian MiG-21. [35]

October 21, 1967: Two missile boats from the Egyptian Navy sinks the Israeli destroyer INS Eilat with anti-ship missiles, killing 47 sailors. [23]

October, 1967: In retaliation to the sinking of the Eilat, Israeli artillery bombards oil refineries and depots near Suez. In a series of artillery exchanges throughout October, the Egyptians sustain civilian casualties. Egypt evacuates a large number of civilians in the canal region. [36]

January 31, 1968: Five Israeli soldiers were wounded and one Israeli and two Egyptian tanks were destroyed in a clash in the canal zone. Israeli and Jordanian forces also exchanged fire without known casualties. [37]

March 21, 1968: In response to persistent PLO raids against Israeli civilian targets, Israel attacks the town of Karameh, Jordan, the site of a major PLO camp. The goal of the invasion was to destroy Karameh camp and capture Yasser Arafat in reprisal for the attacks by the PLO against Israeli civilians, which culminated in an Israeli school bus hitting a mine in the Negev. [38] However, plans for the two operations were prepared in 1967, one year before the bus incident. [39] When Jordan saw the size of the raiding forces entering the battle it was led to the assumption that Israel had another goal of capturing Balqa Governorate to create a situation similar to the Golan Heights. [40] [41] Israel assumed that the Jordanian Army would ignore the invasion, but the latter fought alongside the Palestinians and opened heavy fire that inflicted losses upon the Israeli forces. [42] This engagement marked the first known deployment of suicide bombers by Palestinian forces. [43] The Israelis were repelled at the end of a day's battle, having destroyed most of the Karameh camp and taken around 141 PLO prisoners. [44] Both sides declared victory. On a tactical level, the battle went in Israel's favor, [45] and the destruction of the Karameh camp was achieved. [46] However, the relatively high casualties were a considerable surprise for the Israel Defense Forces and was stunning to the Israelis. [47] Although the Palestinians were not victorious on their own, King Hussein let the Palestinians take credit. [47] [48] [49]

June 1968: The war "officially" begins, with sparse Egyptian artillery bombardment of the Israeli front line on the east bank of the Suez Canal. More artillery bombardments in the following months cause Israeli casualties. [22]

August 20, 1968: Israeli and Jordanian forces engaged in a battle along the Sea of Galilee involving artillery, mortars, and machine guns. [50]

September 8, 1968: An Egyptian artillery barrage kills 10 Israeli soldiers and injures 18. Israel responds by shelling Suez and Ismaïlia. [32]

October 30, 1968: Israeli helicopter-borne Sayeret Matkal commandos carry out Operation Shock, destroying an Egyptian electric transformator station, two dams along the Nile River and a bridge. [32] The blackout causes Nasser to cease hostilities for a few months while fortifications around hundreds of important targets are built. Simultaneously, Israel reinforces its position on the east bank of the Suez Canal by construction of the Bar Lev Line. [51]

November 3, 1968: Egyptian MiG-17s attack Israeli positions, and are met by Israeli interceptors. One Israeli plane is damaged. [32]

December 1, 1968: Israeli helicopter-borne commandos destroy four bridges near Amman, Jordan. [32]

December 3, 1968: The Israeli Air Force bombs PLO camps in Jordan. The Israeli jets are intercepted by Hawker Hunters of the Royal Jordanian Air Force, and an Israeli fighter jet is damaged during the brief air battle. [32]

March 8, 1969: Egypt strikes the Bar Lev Line with artillery fire and airstrikes, causing heavy casualties. Israel retaliates with raids deep into Egyptian territory, causing severe damage. [22]

March 9, 1969: The Egyptian Chief of Staff, General Abdul Munim Riad, is killed in an Israeli mortar attack while visiting the front lines along the Suez Canal.

May–July 1969: Heavy fighting takes place between Israeli and Egyptian forces. Israel loses 47 dead and 157 wounded, while Egyptian casualties are far heavier.

July 18, 1969: Egyptian commandos raid Israeli military installations in Sinai. [32]

July 19–20, 1969: Operation Bulmus 6 – Israeli Shayetet 13 and Sayeret Matkal commandos raid Green Island, resulting in the total destruction of the Egyptian facility. Six Israeli soldiers and 80 Egyptian soldiers are killed. Some Egyptian casualties are caused by their own artillery.

July 20–28, 1969: Operation Boxer – Nearly the entire Israeli Air Force attacks the northern sector of the Canal, destroying anti-aircraft positions, tanks and artillery, and shooting down eight Egyptian aircraft. An estimated 300 Egyptian soldiers are killed, and Egyptian positions are seriously damaged. Israeli losses amount to two aircraft. Egyptian artillery fire is reduced somewhat. However, shelling with lighter weapons, particularly mortars, continues.

August 1969: The Israeli Air Force flies about 1,000 combat sorties against Egypt, destroying dozens of SAM sites and shooting down 21 aircraft. Three Israeli aircraft are lost. [32]

September 9, 1969: Operation Raviv – Israeli forces raid Egypt's Red Sea coast. The raid is preceded by Operation Escort, with Shayetet 13 naval commandos sinking a pair of Egyptian torpedo boats that could have threatened the Israeli raiding party. Three commandos are killed when an explosive device detonates prematurely. Israeli troops backed up by aircraft captured Egyptian armor, and destroy 12 Egyptian outposts. The Egyptians suffer 100–200 casualties, and a Soviet general serving as a consultant to the Egyptians is also killed, while one Israeli soldier is lightly injured. An Israeli plane is shot down during the raid, and the pilot's fate is still unknown.

September 11, 1969: Sixteen Egyptian aircraft carry out a strike mission. Eight MiGs are shot down by Israeli Mirages and a further three Su-7s are lost to Israeli anti-aircraft artillery and HAWK surface-to-air missiles. [26]

October 17, 1969: The United States and Soviet Union begin diplomatic talks to end the conflict.

December 9, 1969: Egyptian aircraft, with the assistance of newly delivered P-15 radars, defeats the Israelis in an aerial engagement, shooting down two Israeli Mirages. Later in the evening, an Egyptian fighter flown by Lt. Ahmed Atef shot down an Israeli F-4 Phantom II, making him the first Egyptian pilot to shoot down an F-4 in combat. [52] The same day, the Rogers Plan is publicized. It calls for Egyptian "commitment to peace" in exchange for the Israeli withdrawal from Sinai. Both parties strongly reject the plan. Nasser forestalled any movement toward direct negotiations with Israel. In dozens of speeches and statements, Nasser posited the equation that any direct peace talks with Israel were tantamount to surrender. [53] President Nasser instead opts to plead for more sophisticated weaponry from the Soviet Union to withstand the Israeli bombings. The Soviets initially refuse to deliver the requested weapons. [54]

December 26–27, 1969: Israel launches Operation Rooster 53, carried out by paratroopers transported by Sikorsky CH-53E and Super Frelon helicopters. The operation results in the capture of an Egyptian P-12 radar at Ras Gharib and carrying it to Israel by two CH-53 Sea Stallion Helicopters. The operation enabled Israeli and American learning of the latest Soviet radar technology, and caused a huge morale impact on the Egyptians.

January 7, 1970: Israel launched Operation Priha, a series of air raids against military targets in the Egyptian heartland. A total of 118 sorties were ultimately undertaken between January 7 and April 13. Also on January 7, a Soviet adviser to an Egyptian infantry brigade was killed in an Israeli attack. [55]

January 22, 1970: President Nasser secretly flies to Moscow to discuss the situation. His request for new SAM batteries (including the 2K12 Kub and Strela-2) is approved. Their deployment requires qualified personnel along with squadrons of aircraft to protect them. Thus, he needed Soviet military personnel in large numbers, something the Kremlin did not want to provide. Nasser then threatens to resign, implying that Egypt might turn to the United States for help in the future. The Soviets had invested heavily in President Nasser's regime, and so, the Soviet leader, General-Secretary Leonid Brezhnev, finally obliged. The Soviet presence was to increase from 2,500 to 4,000 in January to 10,600–12,150 (plus 100–150 Soviet pilots) by June 30.

January 22, 1970: Operation Rhodes. Israeli paratroopers and naval commandos are transported by IAF Super Frelon helicopters to Shadwan Island where they kill 70 Egyptian soldiers and take 62 more prisoner at the loss of 3 dead and 7 wounded. The soldiers dismantle an Egyptian radar and other military equipment for transport back to Israel. IAF aircraft sink two Egyptian P-183 torpedo boats during the operation. [56]

January 26, 1970: Israeli aircraft attacked an Egyptian auxiliary ship in the Gulf of Suez, damaging it and causing it to ground on a reef. [57]

January 28, 1970: Israeli bombing killed six Soviet personnel, three in an attack on a building in a suburb of Cairo that housed Soviet advisors and three in a SAM complex at Dashur. [55]

February, 1970: Two Israeli auxiliary vessels were sabotaged by Egyptian frogmen in Eilat harbor. A supply ship sank while a coastal landing craft sustained damage but was beached by its crew before sinking. There were no casualties. In response, Israeli warplanes sank an Egyptian minelayer in the Gulf of Suez, carried out raids against Egyptian military positions in the canal zone, and struck two military targets deeper into Egyptian territory. Egyptian aircraft also raided Israeli positions along the Suez Canal, injuring three Israeli soldiers. Four days of fighting took place between Israeli and Syrian forces as well. [58] [59] Israeli fighter jets accidentally struck an industrial plant at Abu Zaabal, killing 80 workers. [60]

February, 1970: An Egyptian commando platoon attempts to set up an ambush in the vicinity of the Mitla Pass but is discovered. The entire unit is either killed or captured. [26]

February 9, 1970: An air battle between Israeli and Egyptian warplanes takes place, with each side losing one plane. [32]

March 15, 1970: The first fully operational Soviet SAM site in Egypt was completed. It is part of three brigades which the Soviet Union sends to Egypt. [61] Israeli F-4 Phantom II jets repeatedly bomb Egyptian positions in Sinai.

April 8, 1970: The Israeli Air Force carried out bombing raids against targets identified as Egyptian military installations. A group of military bases about 30 kilometers from the Suez Canal was bombed. However, in what becomes known as the Bahr el-Baqar incident, Israeli F4 Phantom II fighter jets attack a single-floor school in the Egyptian town of Bahr el-Baqar, after it was mistaken for a military installation. The school is hit by five bombs and two air-to-ground missiles, killing 46 schoolchildren and injuring over 50. [62] [63] This incident puts a definite end to the campaign, and the Israelis instead then concentrate upon Canal-side installations. The respite gives the Egyptians time to reconstruct its SAM batteries closer to the canal. Soviet flown MiG fighters provide the necessary air cover. Soviet pilots also begin approaching IAF aircraft during April 1970, but Israeli pilots have orders not to engage these aircraft, and break off whenever Soviet-piloted MiGs appear.

April, 1970: the Kuwaiti Armed Forces suffered their first Kuwaiti fatality on the Egyptian front. [64]

May, 1970: An Israeli fishing boat was sunk by the Egyptian Navy, killing two of its crew. The Israeli Air Force launched a heavy series of bombing raids against Egyptian targets throughout the canal zone and shot down five Egyptian warplanes. Israeli aircraft sank an Egyptian destroyer and minelayer. Two Israeli soldiers were killed by Egyptian shelling and a civilian Israeli frogman was also killed by explosives planted by Egyptian frogmen while removing underwater wreckage at the port of Eilat. [65] During the final days of the month, the IAF launched major air raids against Port Said, believing a large amphibious force is assembling in the town. On the 16th an Israeli aircraft was shot down in air combat, probably by a MiG-21. [66]

May 3, 1970: Twenty-one Palestinian guerrillas were killed by Israeli troops in the Jordan Valley. [59]

May 20, 1970: Israeli troops repulsed an Egyptian commando raid in the canal zone. The Egyptian raiding party retreated under cover of Egyptian artillery fire and Israeli forces responded with artillery fire and airstrikes. Seven of the Egyptian commandos were killed and the Israeli account claimed that the Egyptians also suffered casualties from Israeli retaliatory shelling and airstrikes. Israeli losses were two killed and one injured. Israeli and Jordanian forces also exchanged mortar fire in the northern Beisan Valley. [67]

May 30, 1970: 15 Israeli soldiers are killed, 8 are wounded, and 2 are presumed captured on the same day in three separate ambushes. Israeli armored patrols were ambushed twice on the Suez Canal by Egyptian guerillas, resulting in 13 Israeli soldiers dead, 4 wounded, and 2 missing and presumed taken prisoner. In the Jordan Valley, north of Jericho, an army patrol was ambushed by Arab guerillas, resulting in 2 dead and 4 wounded. It was not known whether the clashes resulted in any Arab casualties. [68]

June 1970: An Israeli armored raid on Syrian military positions resulted in "hundreds of Syrian casualties." [1]

June 25, 1970: An Israeli A-4 Skyhawk, in an attack sortie against Egyptian forces on the Canal, was attacked and pursued by a pair of Soviet MiG-21s into Sinai. According to the Soviets, the plane was shot down, while the Israelis said it was damaged and forced to land at a nearby airbase. [61]

June 27, 1970: The EAF continued to launch air raids across the canal. On June 27 around eight Egyptian Su-7s and MiG-21s attacked Israeli rear areas in Sinai. According to Israel, two Egyptian aircraft were shot down. An Israeli Mirage was shot down, and the pilot was captured. [69]

June 1970: The Kuwaiti Armed Forces suffered sixteen fatalities on the Egyptian front. [64]

June 30, 1970: Soviet air defenses shot down two Israeli F-4 Phantoms. Two pilots and a navigator are captured, while a second navigator is rescued by helicopter the following night. [32]

July 18, 1970: An Israeli airstrike on Egypt caused casualties among Soviet military personnel.

July 30, 1970: A large-scale dogfight occurred between Israeli and Soviet aircraft, codenamed Rimon 20, involving 12 to 24 Soviet MiG-21s (besides the initial 12, other MiGs were "scrambled", but it is unclear if they reached the battle in time), and 12 Israeli Dassault Mirage IIIs and four F-4 Phantom II jets. The engagement took place west of the Suez Canal. After luring their opponents into an ambush, the Israelis shot down four of the Soviet-piloted MiGs. A fifth was possibly hit and later crashed en route back to base. Four Soviet pilots were killed, while the IAF suffered no losses except a damaged Mirage. [61] The Soviets responded by luring Israeli fighter jets into a counter-ambush, downing two, [70] and deploying more aircraft to Egypt. Following the Soviets' direct intervention, known as "Operation Kavkaz", [61] Washington feared an escalation and redoubled efforts toward a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

Early August, 1970: Despite their losses, the Soviets and Egyptians managed to press the air defenses closer to the canal, shooting down a number of Israeli aircraft. The SAM batteries allowed the Egyptians to move in artillery which in turn threatened the Bar Lev Line.

August 7, 1970: A cease-fire agreement was reached, forbidding either side from changing "the military status quo within zones extending 50 kilometers to the east and west of the cease-fire line." Minutes after the cease-fire, Egypt began moving SAM batteries into the zone even though the agreement explicitly forbade new military installations. [19] By October there were approximately one hundred SAM sites in the zone.

September 28, 1970: President Nasser died of a heart attack, and was succeeded by Vice President Anwar Sadat.

According to the military historian Ze'ev Schiff, some 921 Israelis, of which 694 were soldiers and the remainder civilians, were killed on all three fronts. [71] Chaim Herzog notes a slightly lower figure of just over 600 killed and some 2,000 wounded [72] while Netanel Lorch states that 1,424 soldiers were killed in action between the period of June 15, 1967 and August 8, 1970. Between 24 [73] and 26 [74] Israeli aircraft were shot down. A Soviet estimate notes aircraft losses of 40. One destroyer, the INS Eilat, was sunk.

As with the previous Arab–Israeli wars of 1956 and 1967, Arab losses far exceeded those of Israel, but precise figures are difficult to ascertain because official figures were never disclosed. The lowest estimate comes from the former Egyptian Army Chief of Staff, Saad el Shazly, who notes Egyptian casualties of 2,882 killed and 6,285 wounded. Historian Benny Morris states that a more realistic figure is somewhere on the scale of 10,000 soldiers and civilians killed. Ze'ev Schiff notes that at the height of the war, the Egyptians were losing some 300 soldiers daily and aerial reconnaissance photos revealed at least 1,801 freshly dug graves near the Canal zone during this period. Among Egypt's war dead was the Egyptian Army Chief of Staff, Abdul Munim Riad. [71]

Between 98 [73] and 114 [74] Egyptian aircraft were shot down, though a Soviet estimate notes air losses of 60.

Several Egyptian naval vessels were sunk. The Palestinian PLO suffered 1,828 killed and 2,500 were captured. [71] Jordan's intervention on behalf of the PLO during the Battle of Karameh cost it 40–84 killed and 108–250 injured. An estimated 58 Soviet military personnel were killed and four to five Soviet-piloted MiG-21 aircraft were shot down in aerial combat. [75] Syrian casualties are unknown but an armored raid by Israeli forces against Syrian positions in June 1970 led to "hundreds of Syrian casualties." [1] Cuban forces, which were deployed on the Syrian front, were estimated to have lost 180 dead and 250 wounded. [17]


Timeline [ edit | edit source ]

Israeli naval personnel celebrate their victory after an engagement with Egyptian naval forces near Rumani.

July 1, 1967: An Israeli armored infantry company attacks an Egyptian force entrenched at Ras el 'Ish, located 10 miles south of Port Said. The Israeli company drives off the Egyptians but loses 1 dead and 13 wounded. ⎧] However, another source claims that an Israeli attack on Port Fuad was repulsed. ⎝]

July 2, 1967: The Israeli Air Force bombs Egyptian artillery positions that had supported the commandos at Ras Al-'Ish. ⎨]

July 4, 1967: Egyptian Air Force jets strike several Israeli targets in Sinai. An Egyptian MiG-17 is shot down. ⎩]

July 8, 1967: An Egyptian Air Force MiG-21 is shot down by Israeli air defenses while on a reconnaissance mission over el-Qanatra. Two Su-7s equipped with cameras are then sent out to carry out the mission, and manage to complete several turns over Sinai without any opposition. Two other Su-7s are sent for another reconnaissance mission hours later, but are attacked by Israeli Air Force fighter jets. One Su-7 is shot down. ⎩]

July 11–12, 1967: Battle of Rumani Coast - The Israeli Navy destroyer INS Eilat and two torpedo boats sink two Egyptian torpedo boats off the Rumani coast. No crewmen on the Egyptian torpedo boats are known to have survived, and there were no Israeli casualties. ⎪]

July 14, 1967: Artillery exchanges and aerial duels erupt near the Suez Canal. Seven Egyptian fighter aircraft are shot down. ⎫]

October 21, 1967: The Egyptian Navy sinks the Israeli destroyer INS Eilat, killing forty-seven sailors. ⎡]

October, 1967: In retaliation to the sinking of the Eilat, Israeli artillery bombards oil refineries and depots near Suez. In a series of artillery exchanges throughout October, the Egyptians sustain civilian casualties. Egypt evacuates a large number of the civilian population in the canal region. ⎬]

President Nasser of Egypt (with binoculars), surveys positions at the Suez Canal in November 1968

1968 [ edit | edit source ]

March 21, 1968: In response to persistent PLO raids against Israeli civilian targets, Israel attacks the town of Karameh, Jordan, the site of a major PLO camp, but is met with resistance by Jordanian and PLO forces. Despite hours of fighting, Israeli troops consolidate their hold on the Karameh camp with the aid of artillery and airstrikes, blowing up 175 houses. They then fight their way back to Israeli territory, taking with them as much military equipment as they can, along with 120–150 prisoners. Both sides suffered significant casualties and material losses, but Jordanian and PLO losses were far greater than Israel's.

June 1968: The war "officially" begins, with sparse Egyptian artillery bombardment of the Israeli front line on the east bank of the Suez Canal. More artillery bombardments in the following months cause Israeli casualties. ⎠]

September 8, 1968: An Egyptian artillery barrage kills 10 Israeli soldiers and injures 18. Israel responds by shelling Suez and Ismaïlia. ⎩]

October 30, 1968: Israeli helicopter-borne Sayeret Matkal commandos carry out Operation Helem (Shock), destroying an Egyptian electric transformator station, two dams along the Nile River and a bridge. ⎩] The blackout causes Nasser to cease hostilities for a few months while fortifications around hundreds of important targets are built. Simultaneously, Israel reinforces its position on the east bank of the Suez Canal by construction of the Bar Lev Line. ⎭]

November 3, 1968: Egyptian MiG-17s attack Israeli positions, and are met by Israeli interceptors. One Israeli plane is damaged. ⎩]

December 1, 1968: Israeli helicopter-borne commandos destroy four bridges near Amman, Jordan. ⎩]

December 3, 1968: The Israeli Air Force bombs PLO camps in Jordan. The Israeli jets are intercepted by Hawker Hunters of the Royal Jordanian Air Force, and an Israeli fighter jet is damaged during the brief air battle. ⎩]

1969 [ edit | edit source ]

F-4E Phantom of the Israeli Air Force. The aircraft was used to good effect as "flying artillery" during the war. Roundel markings on nose credit this aircraft with three aerial kills.

Soviet/Egyptian S-125 anti-aircraft type missiles in the Suez Canal vicinity

Israeli troops at the Firdan Bridge by the Suez Canal, 1969

March 8, 1969: Egypt strikes the Bar Lev Line with artillery fire and airstrikes, causing heavy casualties. Israel retaliates with raids deep into Egyptian territory, causing severe damage. ⎠]

March 9, 1969: The Egyptian Chief of Staff, Abdul Munim Riad, is killed in an Israeli mortar attack while visiting the front lines along the Suez Canal.

May–July 1969: Heavy fighting takes place between Israeli and Egyptian forces. Israel loses 47 dead and 157 wounded, while Egyptian casualties are far heavier.

July 18, 1969: Egyptian commandos raid Israeli military installations in Sinai. ⎩]

July 19–20, 1969: Operation Bulmus 6 – Israeli Shayetet 13 and Sayeret Matkal commandos raid Green Island, resulting in the total destruction of the Egyptian facility. Six Israeli soldiers and 80 Egyptian soldiers are killed. Some Egyptian casualties are caused by their own artillery.

July 20–28, 1969: Operation Boxer – Nearly the entire Israeli Air Force attacks the northern sector of the Canal, destroying anti-aircraft positions, tanks and artillery, and shooting down eight Egyptian aircraft. An estimated 300 Egyptian soldiers are killed. It also manages to reduce the artillery bombardment somewhat. However, shelling with lighter weapons, particularly mortars, continues.

August 1969: The Israeli Air Force flies about 1,000 combat sorties against Egypt, destroying dozens of SAM sites and shooting down 21 aircraft. Three Israeli aircraft are lost. ⎩]

September 9, 1969: Operation Raviv – Israeli forces raid Egypt's Red Sea coast. The raid is preceded by Operation Escort, with Shayetet 13 naval commandos sinking a pair of Egyptian torpedo boats that could have threatened the Israeli raiding party. Three commandos are killed when an explosive device detonates prematurely. Israeli troops backed up by aircraft captured Egyptian armor, and destroy 12 Egyptian outposts. The Egyptians suffer 100–200 casualties, and a Soviet general serving as a consultant to the Egyptians is also killed, while one Israeli soldier is lightly injured. An Israeli plane is shot down during the raid, and the pilot's fate becomes unknown.

September 11, 1969: Sixteen Egyptian aircraft carry out a strike mission. Eight MiGs are shot down by Israeli Mirages and a further three Su-7s are lost to Israeli anti-aircraft artillery and HAWK surface-to-air missiles. ⎮]

October 17, 1969: The United States and Soviet Union begin diplomatic talks to end the conflict.

December 9, 1969: Egyptian aircraft, with the assistance of newly delivered P-15 radars, defeats the Israelis in an aerial engagement, shooting down two Israeli Mirages. Later in the evening, an Egyptian fighter flown by Lt. Ahmed Atef shot down an Israeli F-4 Phantom II, making him the first Egyptian pilot to shoot down an F-4 in combat. ⎯] The same day, the Rogers Plan is publicized. It calls for Egyptian "commitment to peace" in exchange for the Israeli withdrawal from Sinai. Both parties strongly reject the plan. President Nasser instead opts to plead for more sophisticated weaponry from the Soviet Union to withstand the Israeli bombings. The Soviets initially refuse to deliver the requested weapons. ⎰]

December 26–27, 1969: Israel launches Operation Rooster 53, carried out by paratroopers transported by Sikorsky CH-53E and Super Frelon helicopters. The operation results in the capture of an Egyptian P-12 radar at Ras Gharib and carrying it to Israel by 2 CH-53 Sea Stallion Helicopters. The operation enabled Israeli and American learning of the latest Soviet radar technology, and caused a huge morale impact on the Egyptians.

1970 [ edit | edit source ]

Soviet medal issued to Soviet soldiers who served in Egypt during the War of Attrition

Israeli war ribbon signifying participation in the War of Attrition

January 22, 1970: President Nasser secretly flies to Moscow to discuss the situation. His request for new SAM batteries (including the 3M9 Kub and Strela-2) is approved. Their deployment requires qualified personnel along with squadrons of aircraft to protect them. Thus, he needed Red Army personnel in large numbers, something the Kremlin did not want to provide. Nasser then threatens to resign, implying that Egypt might turn to the United States for help in the future. The Soviets had invested heavily in President Nasser's regime, and so, the Soviet leader, General-Secretary Leonid Brezhnev, finally obliged. The Soviet presence was to increase from 2,500–4,000 in January to 10,600–12,150 (plus 100–150 Soviet pilots) by June 30.

January 22, 1970: Operation Rhodes. Israeli paratroopers and naval commandos are transported by IAF Super Frelon helicopters to Shadwan Island where they kill 70 Egyptian soldiers and take 62 more prisoner at the loss of 3 dead and 7 wounded. The soldiers dismantle an Egyptian radar and other military equipment for transport back to Israel. IAF aircraft sink two Egyptian P-183 torpedo boats during the operation. ⎱]

February, 1970: An Egyptian commando platoon attempts to set up an ambush in the vicinity of the Mitla Pass but is discovered. The entire unit is either killed or captured. ⎮]

February 5, 1970: Israeli auxiliary ships are damaged in the Port of Eilat during a raid by Egyptian frogmen. ⎲]

March 15, 1970: The first fully operational Soviet SAM site in Egypt is completed. It is part of three brigades which the Soviet Union sends to Egypt. ⎳] Israeli F-4 Phantom II jets repeatedly bomb Egyptian positions in Sinai. On February 9, an air battle takes place, with each side losing one plane. ⎩]

April 8, 1970: Israeli Air Force F4 Phantom II jets kill forty-seven Egyptian schoolchildren at an elementary school in what is known as Bahr el-Baqar incident. The single-floor school was hit by five bombs and two air-to-ground missiles. ⎴] This incident put a definite end to the campaign, and the Israelis instead then concentrate upon Canal-side installations. The respite gives the Egyptians time to reconstruct its SAM batteries closer to the canal. Soviet flown MiG fighters provide the necessary air cover. Soviet pilots also begin approaching IAF aircraft during April 1970, but Israeli pilots have orders not to engage these aircraft, and break off whenever Soviet-piloted MiGs appear.

May, 1970: During the final days of the month, the IAF launch major air raids against Port Said, believing a large amphibious force is assembling in the town. On the 16th an Israeli aircraft is shot down in air combat, probably by a MiG-21. ⎵]

May 3, 1970: Twenty-one Palestinian guerrillas are killed by Israeli troops in the Jordan Valley ⎲]

June 1970: An Israeli armored raid on Syrian military positions results in "hundreds of Syrian casualties." ⎜]

June 25, 1970: An Israeli A-4 Skyhawk, in an attack sortie against Egyptian forces on the Canal, is attacked and pursued by a pair of Soviet MiG-21s into Sinai. According to the Soviets, the plane was shot down, while the Israelis claim that it was damaged and forced to land at a nearby airbase. ⎳]

June 27, 1970: The EAF continued to launch air raids across the canal. On June 27 around eight Egyptian Su-7s and MiG-21s attack Israeli rear areas in Sinai. According to Israel, two Egyptian aircraft were shot down. An Israeli Mirage was shot down, and the pilot was captured. ⎶]

July 18, 1970: An Israeli airstrike on Egypt causes casualties among Soviet military personnel.

June 30, 1970: Soviet air defenses shoot down two Israeli F-4 Phantoms. Two pilots and a navigator are captured, while a second navigator is rescued by helicopter the following night. ⎩]

July 30, 1970: A large-scale dogfight occurs between Israeli and Soviet aircraft, codenamed Rimon 20, involving twelve to twenty-four Soviet MiG-21s (besides the initial twelve, other MiGs are "scrambled", but it is unclear if they reach the battle in time), and twelve Israeli Dassault Mirage IIIs and four F-4 Phantom II jets. The engagement takes place west of the Suez Canal. Ambushing their opponents, the Israelis shoot down four of the Soviet-piloted MiGs. A fifth is possibly hit and later crashes en route back to base. Four Soviet pilots are killed, while the IAF suffers no losses except a damaged Mirage. ⎳] Following the Soviets' direct intervention, known as "Operation Kavkaz", ⎳] Washington fears an escalation and redoubles efforts toward a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

Early August, 1970: Despite their losses, the Soviets and Egyptians manage to press the air defenses closer to the canal, shooting down a number of Israeli aircraft. The SAM batteries allow the Egyptians to move in artillery which in turn threatens the Bar Lev Line.

August 7, 1970: A cease-fire agreement is reached, forbidding either side from changing "the military status quo within zones extending 50 kilometers to the east and west of the cease-fire line." Minutes after the cease-fire, Egypt begins moving SAM batteries into the zone even though the agreement explicitly forbids new military installations. ⎝] By October there are approximately one-hundred SAM sites in the zone.

September 28, 1970: President Nasser dies of a heart attack, and is succeeded by Vice President Anwar Sadat.


General Overviews

No single study is solely devoted to a general overview of this period. Gawrych 2000 (cited under the Egyptian Side) comes close when discussing Egyptian-Israeli rivalry during this seven-year period. Gelber 2017 is the first in a three-book project that aims to offer an all but “total history” of the period, at least in terms of the military, diplomatic, and internal Israeli aspects of the period. Other overviews exist but only within the context of general histories of the conflict that sometimes start with the rise of Zionism and the Arab national movement at the end of the 19th century. In this category, Morris 2001 offers a solid history of the military aspects of the conflict. Dupuy 1978 is a concise history of the three wars, as is Herzog and Gazit 2005 but covered primarily from the Israeli perspective. Shlaim 2014 is a good account of the futile political process that started in the aftermath of the Six Day War. Van Creveld 2002 and Maoz 2006 are analytical studies of Israel’s national security doctrine and the history of the Israel Defense Force (IDF). On the Arab side, Pollack 2002 is very useful in analyzing the performances of the armies of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan in the wars of 1967 and 1973 and the War of Attrition. With a lack of better sources on the Syrian military performance in 1967 and 1973, this contribution is essential. Kober 2002 provides a solid analysis of Arab coalition behavior in the three conflicts. The superpower involvement in the conflict during this period is well covered in Ashton 2007.

Ashton, Nigel J. The Cold War in the Middle East: Regional Conflict and the Superpowers, 1967–1973. London: Routledge, 2007.

Examines various aspects of regional developments, primarily American and Soviet involvement in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Of special interest are the pieces by Adamsky on the causes of the American and Israeli intelligence failure to warn against the Soviet intervention in the War of Attrition and by James on Nasser’s decision-making process in this war.

Dupuy, Trevor N. Elusive Victory, the Arab-Israeli Wars, 1947–1974. New York: Harper and Row, 1978.

A balanced, clear, concise, and professional study of Arab and Israeli military performances in the 1967, 1969–1970, and 1973 wars. Although it is somewhat outdated and the Syrian angle is the least covered, this is still one of the best sources available on the subject.

Gelber, Yoav. Ha’Hatasha: Ha’Milhama She’Nishkeha. Tel Aviv: Dvir, 2017.

The first volume of a planned three-volume study that is expected to cover core aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict between the end of the Six Day War and the beginning of the 1973 Yom Kippur war. This first volume presents the international efforts to resolve the conflict following the Six Day War, and Israel’s response to them. The second big theme in the book is the 1969–1970 War of Attrition between Israel and Egypt. Other chapters deal with some of the internal effects in Israel such as the status of the military following the Six Day War and the War of Attrition. Translated as: “Attrition: The forgotten war.”

Herzog, Chaim, and Shlomo Gazit. The Arab-Israeli Wars: War and Peace in the Middle East. New York: Vintage, 2005.

Herzog, who wrote the chapters on the wars of 1967, 1969–1970, and 1973, was an IDF general, ambassador in the UN, and Israel’s president. Consequently, these chapters present a detailed and authoritative description of the three wars from the Israeli perspective.

Kober, Avi. Coalition Defection: The Dissolution of Arab Anti-Israeli Coalitions in War and Peace. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2002.

This study of Arab coalitions since 1948 explains the influence of a low-profile engagement by Syria and Jordan in 1967, the reluctance of the Eastern front to enter a war with Israel in 1969–1970, and Egyptian and Syrian defection attempts in 1973.

Maoz, Zeev. Defending the Holy Land: A Critical Analysis of Israel’s Security and Foreign Policy. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2006.

Three chapters of this book provide an interesting and critical analysis, which often involves counterfactual methodology, of Israel’s national security policy and military conduct during the 1967–1973 period.

Morris, Benny. Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881–2001. New York: Vintage, 2001.

A solid, detailed account of the three wars and their political background, based partially on primary sources. Morris’s ability to combine a balanced analytical discussion with excellent command of events make this part of his book the best concise history of the 1967–1973 period.

Nadal, Chaim. Bein Shtey Milhamot, 1967–1973. Tel Aviv: Ma’arachot, 2006.

A study written by a former Israeli general and historian. The study reviews significant aspects in Israeli military development and buildup following the Six Day War, including the civil-military interaction, operational planning, and resource allocation in the IDF.

Pollack, Kenneth M. Arabs at War: Military Effectiveness, 1948–1991. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2002.

Based partially on a 1996 Yale dissertation, this study constitutes a rather rare case of a systematic analysis of Arab military performance since 1948. As such, it provides a good discussion of the way the three wars were fought by the armies of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria and the main causes for their military successes and failures.

Shlaim, Avi. The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World. New York: Norton, 2014.

Shlaim, a revisionist historian, challenges the traditional approach to the conflict that blamed the Arabs for its continuation. In his discussion of the 1967–1973 period, he presents a convincing argument to show that while Jordan and Egypt came very close to accept the “land for peace formula, Israel rejected it, thus making the 1973 war inevitable.

van Creveld, Martin. The Sword and the Olive: A Critical History of the Israeli Defense Force. New York: Public Affairs, 2002.

A thorough and authoritative study by a renowned military historian of the way the IDF prepared for the three wars, how its performance in each war influenced military buildup and planning for the next one, and how military plans had been ultimately carried out.

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.


Both sides used attrition warfare in an attempt to weaken the other. [3] Both Egypt and Israel thought that by wearing down the other they would gain an advantage in later negotiations. [3] Egypt wanted its territory back from Israel. The leader of Egypt, Gamal Abdel Nasser, thought that by waging a low-grade war against Israel, he would exhaust their resources and get them to give up the territory. [3] Israel wanted to secure its hold on the Sinai and annex it to Israel. [3]

In the end, neither side achieved their goals. Egypt did not force an Israeli withdrawal. Israel still occupied the Sinai. Both sides claimed they won the war. The Israeli death toll included 5,000 soldiers and 600 civilians. [4] Approximately 6,000 soldiers and 1700 civilians were wounded. Egypt lost about 4,000 soldiers and 900 officers. [5] Another 2,000 Egyptian soldiers and 200 officers were captured. [5] Egypt lost about 60% of its military equipment. [5] The Suez Canal remained closed to shipping. [5]


War of Attrition

caption=The Israeli-Egyptian war of Attrition was centered largely on the Suez Canal
date=June 1968 &ndash August 7 , 1970 ( ceasefire )
place= Sinai Peninsula (Israeli control)
casus=Arab defeat from 1967 War and Egyptian refusal to recognize Israel under the terms of the Khartoum Resolution
territory=
result= Egypt and Israel each considered themselves victorious
combatant1=
combatant2=

commander1=
commander2=
strength1="unknown"
strength2= Egypt ian: "unknown"
Soviet advisors: 10,700&ndash15,000 [Russian Aviation and Air Power in the Twentieth Century, Robin D. S. Higham, John T. Greenwood, Von Hardesty, Routledge, 1998, p.227]
casualties1=1,424 soldiers and >127 civilians killed
2,000 soldiers and 700 civilians wounded cite web
url = http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/myths/mf8.html
title = Myths & Facts Online: The War of Attrition, 1967–1970
accessdate = 2007-03-03
last = Gard
first = Mitchell
publisher = Jewish Virtual Library
] cite web
url = http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/History/Modern+History/Centenary+of+Zionism/The+Arab-Israeli+Wars.htm
title = The Arab-Israeli Wars
accessdate = 2007-03-03
publishdate = 2003-09-02
last = Lorch
first = Netanel
publisher = Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
]
15–16 aircraft lost cite web
url = http://www.acig.org/artman/publish/article_263.shtml
title = War of Attrition
last = Cooper
first = Tom
date = 2003-09-24
publisher = Air Combat Information Group
accessdate = 2007-03-07
]
casualties2=

5,000 Egyptian soldiers and civillians killed. (estimate [ [http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/warstat4.htm Twentieth Century Atlas - Death Tolls] ] )
3 Soviet pilots killed
101–113 aircraft lost cite web
url = http://www.acig.org/artman/publish/article_263.shtml
title = War of Attrition
last = Cooper
first = Tom
date = 2003-09-24
publisher = Air Combat Information Group
accessdate = 2007-03-07
] The War of Attrition ( _he. מלחמת ההתשה, _ar. حرب الاستنزاف) was a limited war fought between the Israel i military and forces of the Egypt ian Republic and the Palestine Liberation Organization from 1967 to 1970. It was initiated by the Egyptians as a way of forcing the Israelis to negotiate on favourable terms the return of the Sinai from the Israelis, who had been in control of the territory since the mid-1967 Six-Day War . This objective was not realized, however, and instead the hostilities ended with a ceasefire signed between the countries in 1970 with frontiers remaining in the same place as when the war began, with no real commitment to serious peace negotiations.

Egyptian Front

The Israel Defense Force 's (IDF) unanticipated victory and the Egyptian army's rout during the "Six-Day War" put the Sinai peninsula , up to the eastern bank of the Suez Canal , in Israeli hands. Egypt 's army, the most powerful in the Arab world, yearned for retaliation. Sporadic clashes were taking place along the cease-fire line, and Egyptian missile boats sank the Israeli destroyer "INS Eilat" on October 21st of the same year. Egypt began shelling Israeli positions along the Bar Lev Line , making use of heavy artillery, MiG aircraft and various other forms of assistance from the Soviets with the hope of forcing a war-weary Israeli government into making concessions. cite web
url = http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-219430/Israel
title = Israel: The War of Attrition
accessdate = 2007-03-03
publisher = Encyclopedia Britannica
] Israel responded with bombardment and ground raids on Egyptian military positions, aerial raids on strategic facilities in Egypt itself.

The rationale of the Egyptian President, Gamal Abdel Nasser , was explained by journalist Mohamed Hassanein Heikal :

quotation
"If the enemy succeeds in inflicting three-thousand casualties in this campaign, we can go on fighting nevertheless, because we have manpower reserves. If we succeed in inflicting ten-thousand casualties, he will unavoidably find himself compelled to stop fighting, because he has no manpower reserves."

The international community and both countries attempted to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict. The Jarring Mission of the United Nations was supposed to ensure that the terms of UN Security Council Resolution 242 would be observed, by late 1970, it was clear that this mission had been a failure. Fearing the escalation of the conflict into an "East vs. West" confrontation during the tensions of the mid- Cold War , the American President, Richard Nixon , sent his Secretary of State, William Rogers , to formulate the Rogers Plan in view of obtaining a ceasefire. In August of 1970, Israel, Jordan , and Egypt agreed to a ceasefire under the terms proposed by the Rogers Plan. The plan contained restrictions on missile deployment by both sides, and required the cessation of raids as a precondition for peace. The Egyptians and their Soviet allies rekindled the conflict by violating the agreement shortly thereafter, moving their missiles near to the Suez Canal, and constructing the largest anti-aircraft system yet implemented at that point in history.

The Israelis responded with a policy which their Prime Minister , Golda Meir , dubbed “asymmetrical response,” wherein Israeli retaliation was disproportionately large in comparison to any Egyptian attacks. The strategy worked, as it showed Israel's willingness to sustain losses, and its ability to inflict greater casualties, proportionally, against Egypt and its Soviet allies. Following Nasser’s death in September 1970, his successor, Anwar al-Sadat , ceased open hostilities with Israel, focusing instead on rebuilding the Egyptian army and planning a full-scale attack on Israeli forces across the Suez Canal. The military crossing of the Suez Canal by Egyptian Forces took place three years later and was a complete success, and was the trigger for the fourth Arab-Israeli war, known by the Arabs as the October War or by the Israelis as the Yom Kippur War . This war was ultimately also a political success for Sadat, despite Egyptian military setbacks that occurred after the initial successful crossing, as it forced the Israelis to the negotiating table, after withdrawing all their forces from the east bank of the Suez Canal , months after the war, in 1974. [ Rabinovich, 493 ] Ultimately, Sinai would return to Egypt.

Jordan and the PLO

Following the Six-Day War of 1967, a wave of Palestinian refugees entered Jordan, further strengthening the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) which was already powerful in Jordan at the time. King Hussein ’s agreement to the Rogers Plan upset the PLO, as it constituted official recognition of the State of Israel, in breach of the terms of a prior arrangement, the Khartoum Resolution . Consequently, the PLO began fighting against the Jordanian government, and engaged in a series of terrorist attacks against Israel, including plane hijackings and the infamous " Munich Massacre " during the 1972 Summer Olympics . The Syrian Arab Republic provided aid to the PLO against the Jordanian government, but Israel, by positioning troops along the Jordan River , appeared to preempt a Syrian incursion into Jordanian territory by threatening a retaliatory invasion. This is believed by many to have averted direct Syrian involvement in the conflict. With American and Israeli assistance, the Jordanian King expelled the PLO from Jordan during 1970, in what would become known as "Black September". With the PLO expelled to Lebanon , the Jordanian front of the War of Attrition was closed.

July 1 , 1967 : Egyptian Army artillery fires on an Israeli armored infantry company near the Suez Canal. The Israeli unit commander is killed and thirteen Israeli troops are wounded [ Herzog and Gazit, p. 196 ] .

October 21 , 1967 : Egyptian naval forces sink the Israeli destroyer INS "Eilat", killing forty-seven.

June of 1968: The war "officially" begins, with sparse Egyptian artillery bombardment of the Israeli front line on the east bank of the Suez Canal. More artillery bombardments in the following months kill Israeli soldiers.

October 30 , 1968: Israeli heli-borne commandos (" Sayeret Matkal ") destroy Egypt's main electricity supply. The blackout causes Nasser to cease hostilities for a few months while fortifications around hundreds of important targets are built. Simultaneously, Israel reinforces its position on the east bank of the Suez Canal by construction of "the Bar Lev Line". cite web
url = http://www.sis.gov.eg/En/Pub/magazin/fall1998/110208000000000003.htm
title = Book Review: At Noon The Myth Was Shattered
accessdate = 2007-03-04
publisher = Egyptian State Information Service
]

March 3 , 1969 : Nasser officially voids the ceasefire of October 1968. cite web
url = http://www.palestinefacts.org/pf_1967to1991_warofattrition.php
title = Palestine Facts: What was the War of Attrition during 1969-1970?
]

March 8 , 1969 : Egyptian artillery begins massive shelling of the Bar Lev Line resulting in many Israeli casualties. Soviet MiG-21 fighters are employed in the attack. The IDF retaliates with deep raids into Egyptian territory, causing severe damage.

May-July 1969: Forty-seven IDF soldiers are killed and one-hundred and fifty-seven wounded. Although Egypt suffers many times more casualties than Israel, it continues its aggressive stance. Israel manages to sustain the high casualty rate but is hard-pressed to find a definite solution to the conflict.

July 20 , 1969 and July 24 , 1969: Nearly the entire Israeli Air Force (IAF) bombs the northern Canal sector, destroying anti-aircraft positions, tanks and artillery. The aerial offensive continues until December and reduces the Egyptian anti-aircraft defense to almost nothing. It also manages to reduce the artillery bombardment somewhat. However, shelling with lighter weapons, particularly mortars, continues.

October 17 , 1969: The USA and USSR begin diplomatic talks to end the conflict.

December 9 , 1969: The Rogers Plan is publicized. It calls for Egyptian "commitment to peace" in exchange for the Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai. Both parties strongly reject the plan. President Nasser instead opts to plead for more sophisticated weaponry from the Soviet Union to withstand the IAF bombings. The Soviets initially refuse to deliver the requested weapons. cite web
url = http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Foreign+Relations/Israels+Foreign+Relations+since+1947/1947-1974/9+Statement+by+Secretary+of+State+Rogers-+9+Decemb.htm
title = 9 Statement by Secretary of State Rogers- 9 December 1969
accessdate = 2007-03-04
publisher = Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
]

January 22 , 1970 : President Nasser secretly flies to Moscow to discuss the situation. His request for new SAM batteries (including the 3M9 Kub and Strela-2 ) is approved. Their deployment requires qualified personnel along with squadrons of aircraft to protect them. In effect, he needs Soviet troops in large numbers, something the Kremlin did not want to provide. Nasser then threatens to resign, implying that Egypt might turn to Washington for help in the future. The Soviets had Invested heavily in President Nasser's regime, and so, the Soviet leader, General Secretary Brezhnev, finally obliged. The Soviet presence was to increase from 2,500–4,000 in January to 10,600–12,150 (plus 100–150 Soviet pilots) by June 30 .

March 15 , 1970: The first fully-operational Soviet SAM site in Egypt is completed. It is part of three brigades which the USSR sends to Egypt.

June 30 , 1970: Following the Soviets' direct intervention, known as " Operation Kavkaz " , Washington fears an escalation and redoubles efforts toward a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

April 8 , 1970: Israeli bombardment kills forty-seven Egyptian schoolchildren at an elementary school, putting a definite end to the campaign, the Israelis instead then concentrate upon Canal-side installations. The respite gives the Egyptians time to reconstruct its SAM batteries closer to the canal. Soviet flown MiG-fighters provide the necessary air cover. Soviet pilots also begin approaching IAF aircraft during April 1970, but Israeli pilots have orders not to engage these aircraft, and break off whenever Soviet-piloted MiGs appear.

June 25 , 1970: An Israeli A-4 "Skyhawk", in an attack sortie against Egyptian forces on the Canal, is pursued by a pair of Soviet-piloted MiG-21 s into the Sinai. The "Skyhawk" is shot down or, according to the Israelis, hit and forced to land at a nearby air base. In response, Israel plans and executes an ambush of Soviet-piloted MiGs.

July 30 , 1970: A large-scale dogfight, involving eight to twenty MiG-21s (besides the initial eight, other MiGs are "scrambled", but it is unclear if they reach the battle in time), eight Mirage III and eight F-4 Phantom II jets takes place, west of the Suez Canal. Ambushing their opponents, the Israelis down four Soviet-piloted MiGs, and, according to some sources, a fifth is hit and crashes en route back to its base. Three Soviet pilots are killed, while the IAF suffers no casualties except a damaged Mirage.

Early August, 1970: Despite these losses the Soviets and Egyptians manage to press the air defenses closer and closer to the canal. The Soviet operated SAMs shoot down a number of Israeli aircraft. Israelis do not respond effectively. The SAM batteries allow the Egyptians to move in artillery which in turn threatens the Bar Lev Line.

August 7 , 1970: A cease-fire agreement is reached, forbidding either side from changing "the military status quo within zones extending 50 kilometers to the east and west of the cease-fire line." Minutes after the cease-fire, Egypt begins moving SAM batteries into the zone even though the agreement explicitly forbids new military installations. By October there are approximately one-hundred SAM sites in the zone.

September 28 , 1970: President Nasser dies of a heart attack, and his Vice President, Anwar al-Sadat , takes the reins. Sadat agrees to end the War of Attrition and almost immediately begins planning for the Yom Kippur War which would take place three years later.

Bibliography

*cite book | author=Benny Morris. | title=Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881–1999 | publisher=Knopf | year=1999 | 0-679-42120-3
*Bar-Simon Tov, Yaacov. "The Israeli-Egyptian War of Attrition, 1969–70". New York: Columbia University Press, 1980.
*Chaim Herzog and Shlomo Gazit. "The Arab-Israeli Wars: War and Peace in the Middle East". New York: Vintage Books, 2004.
*cite book |author=Whetten, Lawrence L. |title=The Canal War: Four-Power Conflict in the Middle East |publisher=MIT Press |location=Cambridge, Mass |year=1974 |isbn=0-262-23069-0
*cite book | author=Rabinovitch. | title=The Yom Kippur War: The Epic Encounter That Transformed the Middle East.|id=ISBN 0-8052-4176-0

* Operation Bulmus 6
* 1978 Camp David Peace Accords between Egypt and Israel
*1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty
* Arab-Israeli conflict

* Ahmad Ismail Ali
* Saad El-Shazly
* Chaim Bar-Lev
* Leonid Brezhnev
* Moshe Dayan
* Mohammed Fawzi
* Gunnar Jarring
* Pavel Kutakov
* Uriel Menuhin
* Gamal Abdel Nasser
* Nikolai Podgorny
* Yitzhak Rabin
* Abdul Munim Riad
* William Rogers
* Anwar Sadat
* Ariel Sharon
* Joseph Sisco
* Matvei Vasilievich Zakharov
* Fouad Zikri

External links

* [http://www.acig.org/artman/publish/article_263.shtml War of Attrition, 1969–1970] , ACIG, retrieved January 2 2007
* [http://www.us-israel.org/jsource/Society_&_Culture/69iaf.html Jewish Virtual Library]
* [http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/archives/67-97/sup8.htm The Three Year War, General Mohamed Fawzi]
* [http://www.skywar.ru/rvi.html Russia versus Israel]

Wikimedia Foundation . 2010 .

Look at other dictionaries:

war of attrition — noun A conflict in which both sides are worn down over a long period, with no decisive battles • • • Main Entry: ↑war * * * a prolonged war or period of conflict during which each side seeks to gradually wear out the other by a series of small… … Useful english dictionary

War of Attrition — (1969 70) In the first years after the Six Day War (1967), Israel retained control of the Occupied Territories, and despite various efforts, no significant progress was made toward the achievement of peace. The Palestinians became more active… … Historical Dictionary of Israel

war of attrition — war of at trition plural wars of attrition n a struggle in which you harm your opponent in a lot of small ways, so that they become gradually weaker … Dictionary of contemporary English

war of attrition — noun a war in which there are no major battles but a series of skirmishes intended to weaken the enemy … Australian-English dictionary

war of attrition — pestering and endless hostile activities that are done so as to tire out the enemy … English contemporary dictionary

war of attrition — noun (C) a struggle in which you harm your opponent in a lot of small ways, so that they become gradually weaker … Longman dictionary of contemporary English

War of Attrition (disambiguation) — War of Attrition may refer to: *War of Attrition, a limited war fought between Israeli military, and the forces of Egypt and the Palestine Liberation Organization and from 1968 to 1970 *Attrition warfare, the military strategy of wearing down the … Wikipedia

War of attrition (game) — In game theory, the war of attrition is a model of aggression in which two contestants compete for a resource of value V by persisting while constantly accumulating costs over the time t that the contest lasts. The model was originally formulated … Wikipedia

War of Attrition (album) — Infobox Album | Name = War of Attrition Type = studio Artist = Dying Fetus Released = March 6th, 2007 Producer = Dying Fetus Genre = Technical death metal Brutal death metal Length = 36:50 Label = Relapse Reviews = *Allmusic Rating|3.5|5… … Wikipedia

Attrition — may refer to: *Physical wear *Loss of personnel by retirement *Attrition (medicine, epidemiology), the loss of participants during an experiment *Attrition (dental), the loss of tooth structure by mechanical forces from opposing teeth *Attrition… … Wikipedia


Weapons of War: The Five Deadliest Air Defense Missiles

An old threat is becoming even deadlier—and portable.

The use of ground-based missiles to engage planes and defend air space is a relatively recent phenomenon. First explored by Germany in World War II, all the major powers quickly raced to develop them in the postwar period. The first confirmed kill by a surface-to-air missile was in 1959.

The size and scope of surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems, which restrict vehicle-mounted SAMs to standing armies, means that their use was restricted to conventional wars. As a result, SAM use has been generally infrequent, with the exception of the Arab-Israeli Wars, the Vietnam War, and other conflicts with conventional forces on both sides.

The rise of man-portable air defenses (MANPADS), shoulder-fired systems capable of engaging low-flying aircraft, has extended their use to guerrillas, terrorists, and other nonstate actors. These highly mobile, concealable missiles have been used to target both military and civilian aircraft, in war and peacetime. The proliferation of MANPADS is on a troubling uptick, as instability in Syria and Libya cause both to lose control of their missile arsenals.

There are two ways we could measure overall air defense missile lethality: by number of aircraft actually shot down, and by estimated effectiveness. For the purposes of this article, we’ll use both. Thanks to advances in electronics, missiles are always getting more effective and can defend against many different air-based threats, so it would be easy to load up the list with the latest and (theoretically) best systems. That, however, would neglect some older missiles that have proven effective in the past.

SA-75 “Dvina” (NATO: SA-2 Guideline)

First mention on this list goes not to the most modern missile, but the longest lived. Designed in 1953, the SA-75 “Dvina” surface-to-air missile has been in continuous operation worldwide for more than fifty years.

Originally a fixed air-defense system to counter fast, high-altitude American bombers, the SA-2 was a mainstay of Voyska PVO, the Soviet Air Defense arm. A long, two-stage radar-guided missile, the SA-2 used the P-12 early warning radar (NATO name: “Spoon Rest”) and the RSN-75 “Fan Song” missile control radar. In 1959 the S-75 “Desna” mobile variant became operational, and an improved version, the S-75M “Volkov” was deployed in 1961. “Volkov” could engage targets from 7 to 43 kilometers to an altitude of 98,000 feet.

Exported by the Soviet Union, the SA-2 Guideline served in the vanguard of socialism from Cuba to Mongolia. The SA-2 participated in the Six-Day War, the Vietnam War, the Yom Kippur War, the Iran-Iraq War, the 1991 Gulf War, the Yugoslavian Civil War, and the War in Abkhazia. The SA-2 scored the first ever air defense missile kill, shooting down a Taiwanese RB-57D reconnaissance plane over China in 1959. A salvo of three SA-2s brought down CIA pilot Francis Gary Powers and his U-2 spy plane over Sverdlovsk, Russia in 1960.

The SA-2 formed the backbone of North Vietnam’s high and medium altitude air defense, where it was known as the “flying telephone pole” among American pilots. North Vietnam reported a staggering 5,800 SA-2 launches which downed a total of 205 American aircraft. In 1965 SA-2s scored one hit per fifteen launches by 1972, due to American advances in tactics, electronic warfare and defensive systems, the ratio had worsened to one hit per fifty launches.

The SA-2 still serves in twenty countries, often modernized to extend service life. The system’s latest kill is thought to be in 1993, against a Russian Su-27 Flanker in the Abkhazia War. A half-century reign of effectiveness on the modern battlefield is no mean feat.

9K32 Strela (NATO: SA-7 Grail)

The SA-7 Grail is the AK-47 of air defense missiles: cheap, lightweight and prone to falling into the wrong hands. The first generation of Soviet man-portable air defense missiles (MANPADS), the SA-7 is a twenty-one-pound missile contained in a launcher the length and width of a rolled-up movie poster. Supersonic, the SA-7 is capable of a maximum speed of 1,260 miles an hour with a range of 14,750 feet.

The SA-7 was meant to provide air defense against low-flying NATO attack aircraft. It was liberally issued to frontline Soviet Army units: motor rifle (mechanized), air assault, naval infantry and engineer companies were all equipped with an SA-7 firing team. A NATO aircraft flying over a Soviet battalion would cross paths with as many as three SA-7s.

That sort of battlefield saturation was necessary because, like all first generation MANPADS, the SA-7 was relatively primitive. Egyptian troops during the 1969-1970 War of Attrition scored 36 hits out of 99 launches, including possibly the first MANPADS intercept ever of an Israeli A-4 Skyhawk. The missile’s small warhead meant most planes were only damaged, not shot down, and training and aircraft modifications dramatically lowered the missile’s effectiveness during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

Like other first generation MANPADS, a major downside of the SA-7 was the infrared guidance system, which needed to lock onto the hot exhaust of an aircraft. The SA-7 was only capable of locking onto the tail of an aircraft as it was departing the battlefield—after it had expended its ordnance. The Afghan mujahedeen fighting Soviet occupation forces during the 1980s disliked the SA-7, claiming it would rather lock onto the sun than the exhaust of a jet or helicopter.

In addition to standing armies, the SA-7 has been employed by terrorist and insurgent groups around the world, from Syria to Northern Ireland and Spain. Rebel groups in Syria are reported to be armed with SA-7s captured from the regime, and at least one was launched at an Israeli helicopter over the Gaza Strip in 2012. During the Rhodesian Bush War, two Air Rhodesia airliners were shot down by rebels armed with SA-7s.

2K12 Kub (NATO: SA-6 Gainful)

A veteran of conflicts in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, the SA-6 Gainful came to prominence in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. The SA-6 is a radar-guided missile mounted on a tracked launcher. The SA-6 has a remarkably large engagement envelope for a missile designed in the late 1950s, capable of intercepting aircraft at ranges from 2.5 to 15 miles, and from 164 to 45,000 feet.

The SA-6 became famous during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, when Egypt invaded the Sinai Peninsula. The Egyptian military had up to 32 SA-6 batteries and used them to cover the advance of the Egyptian Second and Third Armies. A new system not previously encountered by the West, SA-6 radar emissions could not be detected by Israeli Air Force radar warning receivers.

The Israeli Air Force, caught unprepared by the Arab armies’ surprise attack, was unable to suppress enemy air defenses before going into action. In the first three days of war the IAF lost nearly fifty planes, most to the SA-6. The SA-6 was so effective that by the third day of the war the Israeli Air Force commander ordered aircraft to stay away from the Suez Canal unless absolutely necessary.

The IAF had assumed the role of “flying artillery” for the Israeli Army, and the SA-6 in many cases prevented Israeli ground forces from being supported by air. The SA-6 continued to be a threat until Egyptian air defenses were dismantled by a combination of air attack and the Israeli counteroffensive. By the end of the war the Israeli Air Force lost an estimated 40 F-4 Phantoms and A-4 Skyhawks to the SA-6 (not counting other missiles or anti-aircraft artillery) or about 14 percent of the IAF’s inventory of both planes.

The SA-6 has served in nearly thirty countries, and still serves with twenty-two. The threat the SA-6 poses to Western aircraft was diminished considerably after captured missiles were analyzed and countermeasures against them devised. The SA-6 has shot down two American F-16 Vipers, one over Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War and another over Bosnia in 1995. The SA-6’s most recent “kill” was in a friendly fire incident in Poland in 2003, when a Polish missile battery accidentally shot down a Polish Air Force Su-22 Fitter attack jet during exercises.

FIM-92 Stinger

The Stinger missile is typical of the second generation of MANPADS. The Stinger made its name in the mountains of Afghanistan, where it was highly effective against Soviet helicopters and aircraft, and its use may have shortened the war.

Like the SA-7, the Stinger was designed for American ground forces to defend themselves from enemy ground attack aircraft. Unlike the SA-7, the Stinger has an “all-aspect” engagement capability—that is, it can detect and launch against aircraft at all angles, not just from the rear. This finally gave American air defense teams the ability to shoot down an enemy aircraft before it made an attack run, or force an aircraft to abort a run.

Newer versions of the Stinger incorporate a dual-seeker operating in the infrared and ultraviolet bands. Infrared countermeasures that formerly worked to confuse infrared seeking missiles, such as flares, don’t work in the ultraviolet band. Stinger has a large warhead than previous generation missiles, making it more likely to actually down tactical aircraft instead of merely damage them.


Timeless Lessons from the October 1973 Arab-Israeli War

This week marks the forty-fourth anniversary of the beginning of the 1973 Arab-Israeli War. Known as the Yom Kippur War in Israel and the Ramadan or October War in Egypt and Syria, the dramatic events of October 1973 profoundly altered the course of Middle East politics, eventually leading to the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty and Cairo’s realignment away from the Soviet Union and toward the United States. Indeed, the 1973 war serves as a textbook case study in the use of military means for political ends, and provides still other lessons for modern warfare that remain as fundamental today as they were forty-four years ago. The occasion of this anniversary provides an opportunity to highlight some of these enduring lessons, as well as to apply them to America’s present national security challenges.

Historical Context: Crossing the Suez

On October 6, 1973, Egypt and Syria successfully launched coordinated surprise attacks against Israeli forces in the Sinai Peninsula and Golan Heights, respectively. The attacks were a direct reaction to Israel’s dramatic victory in June 1967, when in six days the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) executed a preemptive military campaign that resulted in the capture of the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the Golan Heights from Syria, and the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan. The 1973 war was an attempt to reverse that humiliation and regain lost territory, and no moment would come to symbolize the post-1967 redemption of Arab national honor more than the Egyptian military’s daring and ingenious crossing of the Suez Canal.

At approximately 1405 hours on Saturday, October 6, just after Syrian MiGs began dropping bombs in the Golan, thousands of Egyptian forces in rubber dinghies crossed the Suez Canal under cover of air and artillery fire. Sophisticated new air defense systems neutralized Israel’s air force. Along the eastern bank of the canal stood Israel’s vaunted Bar-Lev Line, a sixty-foot high sand barrier defended by some sixteen outposts. The IDF calculated it would take the Egyptians at least twenty-four hours to blast breaches in the sand using explosives the Egyptians sliced their way through using high-pressure water cannons in less than five. In the meantime, engineer battalions assembled pontoon bridges to transport heavy equipment over the water, while commandos equipped with cutting-edge, Soviet anti-tank weapons streamed into the desert to blunt Israel’s armored counterattack.

By October 7, Egypt had thrown over 100,000 troops and 1,000 tanks across the canal. Regardless of what happened next, the epic crossing of the Suez had restored Arab dignity and, as Sadat later wrote, “exploded forever the myth of an invincible Israel.”

How did this early battle lead to the transformation of the regional and even global balance of power? What can we learn from the war that ensued? Below I highlight three takeaways relevant for today’s national security practitioner.

Lesson 1: Begin with the Political End in Mind

Egyptian President Anwar Sadat played his hand almost perfectly. He had held a tenuous grip on power since succeeding the populist Gamal Abdul Nasser in 1970, and was especially vulnerable to popular frustration over his country’s “no-war, no-peace” stalemate with Israel over the Sinai Peninsula: the Egyptian military was not strong enough to retake it by force, but neither Israel nor the superpowers seemed in a hurry to negotiate a resolution.

Sadat concluded that his only option was a limited war that forced his adversaries into a political process. In the event, the successful opening attack earned him the domestic political capital to negotiate with Israel, while it also confronted Israel and the United States with the dangers of ignoring Egyptian interests. On the war’s first day National Security Advisor and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger Agranat Commission, laid blame on Israel’s military leadership for its “obdurate adherence to what was known as ‘the conception,’ according to which a) Egypt would not launch war against Israel before she had first ensured sufficient air power to attack Israel in depth . . . and b) that Syria would only launch an all-out attack on Israel simultaneously with Egypt.” The commission’s criticisms may be true, but they do not shed light on the underlying question of why Israel’s military leaders refused to be swayed.

One compelling set of explanations can be found in the Nobel Prize-winning research of two psychologists who identify ways in which the human brain is hard-wired to systematically err by relying on mental shortcuts over “rational,” probabilistic judgment under certain conditions. (Incidentally, the psychologists, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, were Israelis who left their academic posts in America to serve in the 1973 war.)

Confirmation bias, for example, refers to the human tendency to seek, favor, or interpret information in a way that is compatible with ones preexisting beliefs. In 1973, Israel’s military intelligence leaders clung to interpretations of intelligence that validated their “conception” while dismissing alternative views. Take for example military intelligence chief Gen. Eli Zeira’s wholesale acceptance of Egyptian disinformation that its military was conducting a routine exercise during the first week of October.

Throughout that period the Israelis observed activities unusual for an exercise, including canceled leave for officers, the preparation of boat launches on the canal, and stockpiling of emergency ammunition and supplies. But when suspecting officers put forward alternative interpretations their assessments were rejected. “The situations you see are not the ones I see,” Gen. Zeira reprimanded one of his officers who raised an October 1 early morning alarm. Another officer in the field wrote a memo questioning the exercise thesis that his superiors refused to send up the chain. Meanwhile, conflicting data was explained away: when Israel learned that the Soviet Union was evacuating its citizens in Egypt and Syria on October 5, the IDF chief of staff speculated it was due to a Soviet-Arab dispute Minister of Defense Moshe Dayan chalked it up to misplaced fears of an Israeli attack.

An overconfidence effect also played a role. Research shows that feelings of confidence do not necessarily correlate with accurate judgments. “Organizations that take the word of overconfident experts can expect costly consequences,” writes Kahneman, adding, “An unbiased appreciation of uncertainty is a cornerstone of rationality—but it is not what people and organizations want.” Unfortunately for Israel, Gen. Zeira was uninterested in uncertainty. As he himself testified after the war, “The best support that the head of [military intelligence] can give the chief of staff is to provide a clear and unambiguous assessment . . . the clearer and sharper the estimate, the clearer and sharper the mistake—but this is a professional hazard.”

The Blunder, as it came to be known in Israel, was not merely an intelligence failure, but also a failure of preparation. The Israelis were wildly outnumbered on both the Sinai and Golan, and not entirely for lack of resources. Rather, Israel’s stunning victories against Arab forces in 1948, 1956, and 1967 had produced among its leaders an impression of Israeli military superiority and of Arabs as poor fighters. Chief of Staff Gen. Elazar summed up this dynamic when he told his staff, “We’ll have one hundred tanks against [Syria’s] eight hundred. That ought to be enough.”

Lastly, the Israelis also suffered from what is known as a peak-end effect. Once again, Kahneman: “Our memory . . . has evolved to represent the most intense moment of an episode of pain or pleasure (the peak) and the feelings when the episode was at its end.” IDF leaders’ recollection of past Arab-Israeli wars came to be dominated by memories of dramatic operational successes and victorious end-states, yet the Israelis possessed plenty of data that belied this confidence. According to the historian Abraham Rabinovich, the Egyptians fought reasonably well in 1948, and the blowout in 1967 was hastened by a premature Egyptian fallback that, while perhaps a poor decision, was not necessarily indicative of capability. What’s more, the Egyptian military inflicted significant losses upon the IDF during the 1969–1970 War of Attrition.

Indeed, after 1967 both Cairo and Damascus acquired from their Soviet patron sophisticated new weapons that narrowed their capability gap with the Israelis. In the summer of 1973 the Israeli Air Force commander briefed Elazar and Dayan on his assessment that Egypt’s formidable SAM-6 air defense system severely restricted his freedom of maneuver. Egypt and Syria also acquired revolutionary new anti-tank systems that Israel was ill-equipped to counter and developed an advantage in armored night-fighting capability.

All told, Israeli defenses in 1973 relied on presumptive superiority in intelligence and aerial and armored combat capabilities. Despite the information available beforehand, they would not learn of the deficiencies in each of these layers until it was too late.

Lesson 3: Consider Your Enemy’s “Out”

The wise statesman knows never to let a crisis go to waste, and so in this case did Henry Kissinger expertly manage hostilities in order to preserve the opportunity for postwar diplomacy.

Kissinger’s wartime strategy was twofold: first, demonstrate the futility of Soviet-supported Arab militarism by preventing the defeat of a US ally and second, maintain contact with the warring parties in order to shape events. If managed well, the United States could initiate postwar diplomacy with credit in the bank with both parties—with Israel for having stood by its defense and with the Arabs for restraining Israel’s anticipated advance after mobilizing reserve units.

Regarding the first strategy, Kissinger, among other things, orchestrated a massive US military resupply airlift that helped Israel turn the tide of the war. As for the second strategy, Kissinger spoke to his Egyptian counterparts nearly every day of the conflict, assuring Cairo that the United States would commit to a political process after the war. Words turned to action when he came to the rescue of Egypt’s 22,000-strong Third Army, which Israel had surrounded on the west bank of the canal during the war’s waning days.

The destruction of the Third Army would have led to a cascade of disasters: a serious risk of superpower conflict, Egypt’s loss of the national dignity regained from crossing the canal, and the destruction of any chance for further postwar diplomacy. Thus Kissinger intervened, threatening US support to Israel: “There is a limit beyond which you cannot push [President Nixon]. . . . You play your game and you will see what happens,” he told Israel’s ambassador to the United States. When the Israeli ambassador protested, highlighting the danger that the surviving Egyptian army could pose in the future, Kissinger replied, “I have to say again your course is suicidal. You will not be permitted to destroy this army. You are destroying the possibility for negotiations, which you want.”

Israel would eventually relent, and on October 25 both warring parties finally agreed to a ceasefire. The Egyptians had been allowed to survive the war with honor intact and faith in the United States, paving the way for postwar diplomacy.

Lessons for Today

These lessons from the 1973 Arab-Israeli War—linking military action to political goals, guarding against cognitive biases and, when appropriate, recognizing opportunities to improve one’s own lot by acknowledging the interests of an adversary—are fundamental to the successful conduct of war and peace in any time and place.

President Donald Trump recently acknowledged the importance of this first lesson, for example, when he announced on August 20 that the threshold for US military withdrawal from Afghanistan would henceforth be conditions- rather than time-based. This is sensible, though a reluctance to outline these conditions and an emphasis on applying military over diplomatic tools to this problem set raise questions about the present alignment between resources and goals. Elsewhere, the Department of Defense has confirmed that it is considering providing Ukraine with lethal “defensive weapons” for its fight against Russian-backed separatists, even as the head of US Army forces in Europe is on record saying that such weapons would “not change the situation strategically in a positive way.” Washington must remain disciplined in aligning its military efforts with realistic political goals.

Guarding against cognitive biases requires less foreign policy prescription than organizational measures to systematically mitigate the foibles of human intuition. Such mechanisms have permeated many areas of life, from private business and medicine to movies and sports, and the CIA website makes clear that the intelligence community is no exception. It is less clear whether US policymaking institutions are equally equipped. Confirmation bias notoriously contributed to the Bush administration’s hunt for evidence that Iraq possessed WMD, and recent reports that the Trump administration is fishing for information to support preconceived notions of Iranian non-compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action are just as dangerous.

In fact, the Iran deal is significant precisely because it gives Tehran a face-saving path to curb its nuclear activities. There are times to annihilate an implacable enemy, to be sure, but frequently the national security interest dictates the grudging acceptance that one’s own security is intertwined with that of an adversary. The current administration would be wise to study this lesson as it develops its approach to North Korean intransigence. If it is the case that North Korea’s nuclear activities are motivated primarily by factors of regime security, then history teaches us that Washington’s best way forward is to scale back the fiery rhetoric and provide Pyongyang with an off-ramp from the current trajectory of mutual escalation.

These are just a few of the takeaways from the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, a conflict rich in tactical, operational, and strategic achievement. This week, as the parties to that conflict celebrate their victories and commemorate their losses, students of modern warfare have the opportunity to revisit this pivotal moment in history and examine its enduring lessons for any future battlespace.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the US government.


Casualties

According to military historian Ze'ev Schiff, some 721 Israelis, of which 594 were soldiers and the remainder civilians, were killed on all three fronts. [ 43 ] Chaim Herzog notes a slightly lower figure of just over 500 killed and some 2000 wounded [ 44 ] while Netanel Lorch, states that 1,424 soldiers were killed in action between the period of June 15, 1967 and August 8, 1970. Between 14 [ 45 ] and 16 [ 46 ] Israeli aircraft were shot down. A Soviet estimate notes aircraft losses of 30. One destroyer, the INS Eilat, was sunk.

As with the previous Arab-Israeli wars of 1948, 1956 and 1967, Arab losses far exceeded those of Israel but precise figures are difficult to ascertain because official figures were never disclosed. The lowest estimate comes from the former Egyptian Army Chief of Staff, Saad El Shazly, who notes Egyptian casualties of 2,882 killed and 6,285 wounded. Historian Benny Morris states that a more realistic figure is somewhere on the scale of 10,000 soldiers and civilians killed. Ze'ev Schiff notes that at the height of the war, the Egyptians were losing some 300 soldiers daily and aerial reconnaissance photos revealed at least 1,801 freshly dug graves near the Canal zone during this period. Among Egypt's war dead was the Egyptian Army Chief of Staff, Abdul Munim Riad. [ 43 ]

Between 98 [ 45 ] and 114 [ 46 ] Egyptian aircraft were shot down though a Soviet estimate notes air losses of 60. A number of Egyptian naval vessels were sunk. The PLO suffered 1,828 killed and 2,500 captured. [ 43 ] Jordan’s intervention on behalf of the PLO during the Battle of Karameh cost it 84 killed and two aircraft lost. An estimated 58 Soviet military personnel were killed and five Soviet piloted Mig 21 aircraft were shot down in aerial combat. [ 47 ] Syrian casualties are unknown but an armored raid by Israeli forces against Syrian positions in June 1970 led to "hundreds of Syrian casualties." [ 16 ] Cuban forces, which were deployed on the Syrian front, were estimated to have lost 180 dead and 250 wounded. [ 15 ]


Watch the video: 1982 Israeli Air Force gave a lesson to Syria