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Here is the next what if/could it? thread, this time turning to a brand new conflict. It has been touched on a long time ago in one of the cold war threads, but I decided to make a dedicated thread about it.
NOTE: This really goes without saying, but this is purely a military history and art of warfare discussion, keep all political aspects to an absolute minimum in terms of what would be required for an Israeli defeat on the battlefield and at the peace table.
This war has gone by many names:
The Arab-Israeli War of 1973
The October War
The Ramadan War
The Yom Kippur War (my personal preference)
Of all the Arab-Israeli Wars since 1948, I personally find this one the most fascinating in terms of the art of warfare, weaponry and technology, as well as its strong connection to the cold war.
Following Israel's crushing victory over Egypt, Syria and Jordan in 1967's Six Day War, the Arab military forces were humiliated and itching for the opportunity to get their lost land back. Chiefly, Syria wanted the Golan Heights back, and Egypt wanted the Sinai back. Jordan took a much more neutral stance by this time.
Israel was very over confident that they could thwart any effort by their neighbors to attack into these territories. They believed that they had the best forces in the region in all departments other than numbers.
This had changed by late 1973. Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and his generals came up with a rather brilliant plan to attack Israeli forces and achieve a victory to get the lost territory back.
The plan was for Egypt to attack east across the Suez Canal into the Sinai, but only advance a few miles after crossing, then fortify their positions. The reason for this was that the Egyptians knew that they could not go toe-to-toe with the Israeli military, particularly it's air force. So the plan was to seize all the land on the immediate opposite side of the canal and use their soviet provided Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) batteries to create an impenetrable air defense umbrella to neutralize the Israeli Air force. This, combined with usage of RPGs and AT-3 Sagger missiles to neutralize Israeli armored counter attacks. This, they hoped, would allow them to wear down the Israelis in an attrition war and force them to the peace table from a position of weakness, where Egypt could negotiate successfully to get the Sinai back.
The second part of this plan was for Syria to simulatiously attack the Golan Heights, with the goal of quickly overrunning the heights and fortifying to hold back Israeli counter attacks, ideally with the same projected results as in the Sinai.
All of this centered on the date of the attack, October 6th 1973. On that day on the Hebrew calendar was the holiest day of the Jewish year: Yom Kippur, the day of atonement. The thinking was that with the bulk of the Israeli population ether at home or in their places of worship, they would be in a relaxed state and more vulnerable to attack, and most critically, it would theoretically mean that the Israelis would take longer to mobilize their full force of reservists, which would be needed to win another war.
It is now known that Israel had intelligence of the incoming attack, but chose to not launch a preemptive strike, due to the political fallout from when they launched their preemptive war in 1967.
When the attacks were launched on the afternoon of October 6th, they actually were quite successful. One snag was that attacking on the holiest day actually helped the Israelis mobilize, due to the fact that there was no civilian traffic on the roads, it was ridiculously easy for couriers on motorcycles and jeeps to drive around announcing the attack and calling up the reservists for the national emergency.
Even with the Israelis mobilizing faster than expected, the attack went quite well for the Egyptians in the Sinai, but the Syrians were driven back on the Golan Heights, as Israeli high command considered that the greater threat due to the closer proximity to the Israeli heartland.
The turning point of the war came three days after the start, when the Syrians begged the Egyptians to attack to relieve pressure on the Golan front. However, attacking meant their troops would be leaving their SAM umbrella. They did so, and suffered heavy losses from Israeli tank reinforcements and airpower.
Ultimately the Syrians were driven out of the Golan Heights and close to Damascus, and the Israelis managed to counterattack in the Sinai and actually cross the Canal and encircle Egypt's third Army. The war ended on October 25th 1973, with the war lasting 19 days.
The war was a decisive Israeli victory, and ultimately led to a formal peace treaty with Egypt, and the formal peaceful return of the Sinai in 1982. However on the Golan Front, it officially remains an unresolved conflict to this day, as Israel still holds the heights.
The question I pose is, if Egypt did not attack outside the SAM umbrella to support the effort on the Golan Heights, could Israel have lost the war?
I think Israel was going to win on the Golan front regardless, as they held better ground and were able to mobilize reserves there quickly. However, if the Egyptians had held their positions, I think on the Sinai front, it is possible that Israel could have been ground down in an attrition campaign and forced to accept disadvantageous peace terms from Egypt, and have effectively lost the war.
What do you think? Lets discuss this and other alternate possibilities of the Yom Kippur War!
Another question could be: Would Soviet intervention have given Egypt and Syria a victory, with the US having been exhausted from the Vietnam War.
"we have officially entered into pre-whinning about our games."- Cogre
I will always respect differing opinions on here, so long as they are presented maturely and in a civil manner
"No Battleplan ever survives contact with the enemy"- Helmuth Von Moltke the Elder