I just finished some M60's and M113s in the Drab scheme that seemed common in the late 60's and early 70's. I originally started these as part of a planned "World War 74 campaign." It never got off the ground, but I still have my notes in the off-chance I run into others who enjoy the time period as much as I do. As such I present the background to the war that almost was...
It began with the 73' war. There was a short period, with the Syrians and Egyptians threatening to overwhelm them, where the Israelis were purportedly preparing to unleash their nuclear arsenal. This potentially would have tipped the balance towards global conflict. In the US, Nixon was distracted by Watergate and essentially left Kissinger in charge of the US response to the crisis. The US Army was only recently disengaged from the Viet Nam conflict, and morale and readiness were abysmal. There were a number of events that could have driven the situation to global war.:
- Mustafa Barzani (supported by the Shah of Iran) was preparing to lead another Kurdish insurrection against Saddam and his Baath regime in Baghdad.
- Turkey would invade Cyprus the following coming summer.
- The Soviet interest in expanding their influence within the Middle East would result in significant tension in the latter stage of the 73 war..
- The Arab oil embargo that followed the conflict had a global economic impact.
|Syrian forces mass on the Border|
- During the war, the USSR was prepared to deploy several Airborne divisions as peacekeepers to the region, and the US threatened nuclear escalation in response…..
|Israeli 7th Armored Brigade Arrayed along the Golan Heights|
Going through my old game notes I found a re-fight we did on the Syrian Front of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war (AKA The Yom Kippur War or The October War) using Modern Spearhead. In the original scenario we gave the Syrian 9th ID player the option of using Chemical Weapons to achieve a breakthrough if things bogged down. He responded with opening his attack with a chemical preparatory bombardment and routing the Israeli 7th Armored BDE in a short bloody fight. As a one-off game it was entertaining, but how do you turn this into a campaign….
(These are things that might have occurred.)
Prior to 061200OCT73
- A GRU intelligence estimate of the Israeli nuclear facility in Dimona determines that it is "incapable of producing sufficient quantities of enriched uranium to support a serious nuclear weapons program." The assessment was passed on to Nasser and Assad in the late 1960s.
- A later KGB study refuting this estimate is never forwarded to Sadat or his allies.
- Soviets make good on their promise to deliver 30 MIG-23s to the Egyptian AF in the summer of 1973
- The head of Israeli Intelligence is killed in Auto accident in Europe on 05OCT09, this results in a delay of IDF mobilization up to 12 hours prior to the onset of hostilities.
|Syrian forces advance.|
- The Egyptian Air Force conducts a follow up raid after their initial airstrikes to destroy/disrupt IAF and Hawk AD Batteries. Egyptian losses are heavy, but devastate IDF Air Defense capabilities.
- A handling accident in a Syrian ammo handling area results in the release of several liters of Blister agent, several Syrian soldiers are killed. Fearing the political repercussions, the local commander was quick to claim the casualties were the result of an Israeli chemical attack.
|IAF Jet is downed during the battle|
- Claiming Israeli first use, Syrian forces deploy chemical weapons in the Golan Heights. The Egyptians follow suit soon after.
|Vapor Clouds spread across the Israeli positions.|
- The Syrian 9th Infantry Division achieves early penetration of the Israeli 7th AR BDE with the use of Non-persistent chemical agents. Israeli positions are overrun within hours on the 6th.
- The Syrian 1st Armor Division passes through Syrian 9th ID oriented on seizure of Nafah and Safed.
|Syrian Armor deploys to exploit the penetration of Israeli lines|
- Syrian 7th Infantry Division seizes Tel Fahar
- Israeli 188th Armor BDE holds briefly against the Syrian 5th ID (-) but is forced to withdraw as 7th BDE evaporates to the North.
- Syrian 5th ID and 42nd Armor Brigade attack SW to seize El Al and Harab
- Syrian Air Force and SSMs execute Persistent chemical attacks against IAF Air Fields and Staging areas for the Laner and Peled Armor Divisions.
- Egyptian forces conduct similar deep attacks along the southern front.
Syrian Mechanized Forces sweep through Israeli positions
- Syrian Forces overrun Israeli positions North of the sea of Galilee. A chemical attack on forces North of Tiberias results in substantial civilian casualties.
- Defense Minister Moshe Dayan relays to PM Golda Meir "This is the fall of the Third Temple" US Intelligence believes this is the code phrase to request Nuclear Release.
- In a near simultaneous strike, Israeli nuclear weapons are used to destroy significant political and military targets in Egypt, Syria and Iraq. The prime minister's reasoning is two fold: 1) demonstrate Israeli resolve to resist to the end and 2) deliver a single massive strike before world pressure would undoubtedly prevent any follow up attacks. Targets include:
- Damascus (Baath Party HQ)
- Syrian Military HQ IVO Damascus
- Egyptian HQ IVO Cairo
- El-Mansoreh Airbase, Egypt
- Baghdad (Baath Party HQ)
- Afas Airbase, Syria
- Aswan Dam, Egypt
- HQ Syrian 3rd AD
- HQ Egyptian 3rd Army
- HQ Iraqi 1st AD
- Ismailia AB
- The Israeli army is ordered to focus on the destruction of Arab mechanized forces as quickly as possible in anticipation of the impending UN cease-fire.
- The Israeli army meets rapid success in light of the spreading confusion on both fronts. The remains of the Egyptian 3rd army are encircled and destroyed. The 2nd army disintegrates under the dual pressure of combat and desertion as soldiers attempt to return to their decimated homes.
- Public outcry is Immediate. A UN resolution is passed demanding a cease fire for the evening of the 14th. The Soviet delegation follows this up with a pledge to conduct limited nuclear strikes against Israeli targets in response to any further use of Nuclear or Chemical munitions.
- The Egyptian, Syrian and Iraqi central governments collapse.
- In Egypt, the loss of power and flooding created by the destruction of the Aswan dam, results in significant civilian casualties and the collapse of the Egyptian economy. Civil unrest rapidly dissolves into civil war.
- Mustafa Barzani, seizing the initiative, declares Kurdish independence from the Baghdad central government. Syrian and Turkish Kurds declare the birth of a new Kurdistan and attempt to secede from their parent governments.
- Peshmerga forces seal the Kurdistan border, widespread reports of genocide follow as the `de-Baath-ification' of Mosul and Kirkuk begin.
- A coalition of Shia dissident groups seize power centered on Basra, declare independence from the central government. The Iranian Shah orders all coordination for aid to Iraq to flow through this group granting them regional legitimacy.
- OPEC, claiming tacit support in the West for Israel's "Arab Genocide," announce a complete Oil embargo for Western Europe and North America. The effects of the resulting energy crisis causes a collapse in world markets.
- Soviet airborne forces are deployed to Syria, Iraq and Egypt as 'peace-keepers' to buttress their surviving Moscow-Friendly governments. Kurdish forces come into active conflict with Soviet forces in Northern Iraq and Syria.
- Fearing growing Soviet influence in the region, the Shah requests military assistance from the west to `secure the Iranian border to prevent the chaos from spilling over.'
- Iraqi regular army forces, supported by Soviet air assets and artillery, crush Shia resistance in the South. Refugees pour into Iran, and across the Kuwaiti border.
- Saudi Arabia reverses the earlier embargo, requesting British military aid against Soviet or Iraqi Encroachment
- As diplomatic efforts fail, and citing Kurdish attacks out of Northern Iran, Soviet Armored forces attempt to seize an operational corridor across Northern Iran and Eastern Turkey to link up with their forces in Iraq and Syria. Iranian and US Forces move to oppose this move…..