“Now I’m going to tell you something very severe. En brera. No alternative. The battle tomorrow will be life and death. Each man will assault to the end, taking no account of casualties. There will be no retreat. No halt, no hesitation. Only forward assault.”
~ General Israel Tal.
The fate of a nation hangs in the balance. Israel cannot lose even a single battle. One defeat would mean the destruction of the tiny Jewish state. Not waiting to be attacked by the Arab forces massing on its borders, Israel strikes first.
Hundreds of tanks sweep across the borders, punching deep into the enemy defences, seeking out the enemy tanks. The infantry follow behind, assaulting the fortifications, clearing the way for the advance to continue.
|A bare six days later, the war was over. A thousand tanks lay strewn across the desert. Tens of thousands of soldiers lay dead and wounded. Israel had survived, but the Arabs vowed that there would be no peace with Israel.|
What is Fate of a Nation?
|Israeli Defence Force|
As a small, newly-formed country surrounded by enemies vowing to destroy it, Israel placed a lot of importance on its army. Every male (and many females) was conscripted into the Defence Force as a way of integrating them into the new nation. As with most revolutionary forces, there was a strong emphasis on individual initiative and using shock and surprise to overcome stronger opponents.The Israeli special rules reflect these factors. A War of Survival makes an Israeli force unlikely to give up short of being wiped out. Few Against Many allows them to use their individual initiative to outmanoeuvre their foes. Every Soldier is a Leader allows new leaders to spring from the ranks to replace fallen commanders. In addition, 24-hour Battle allows the Israelis to push the fight into the night, taking advantage of their superior training to defeat the enemy in the darkness.The flip side of all of these powerful special rules is that an Israeli force will always be small, severely outnumbered by their opponents. Every loss is a heavy blow. An Israeli player must be clever and cunning to survive and win.
P’lugah Tan’kim (Tank Company)
Along with the expansion, the armoured forces gained the most modern equipment Israel could source. Initially this was limited to up-gunned M50 ‘French’ Sherman and Israeli-designed M51 Isherman tanks armed with powerful new French guns, but as Soviet influence increased in the Arab states, modern British and American tanks became available too.
The British Centurion tank mounted one of the most powerful anti-tank weapons available, the L7 105mm gun, in a well-protected chassis. The survivability of these tanks made them a clear choice amongst Israeli mothers for their sons to serve in! The American M48 tank was as well armoured and considerably faster than the Centurion, and even if its 90mm gun wasn’t quite as potent as the British 105mm, it is still very effective against any Arab tank.
Regardless of which tank they crewed, Israeli tankers made sure that their guns were accurately sighted at every moment and made a fetish of accurate gunnery. This is reflected in their Gunnery First special rule that allows them to re-roll misses at long range if they don’t move.
A P’lugah Tan’kim is a powerful striking force fielding the very best crews in modern and powerful tanks.
|P’lugah Sayur (Patrol Company)|
Well before the Israeli army had any tanks worthy of the name, they fell in love with armed jeeps. Fast and mobile, a Palsar always leads the advance, taking the fight to the enemy. When the main
force is delayed, the long-range patrols punch through the enemy, carrying the fight deep into their rear areas.While they are trained as reconnaissance troops, the Sayeret weren’t into sneaking and hiding. Their approach was always to attack, throwing themselves into the fray against vastly superior forces and relying on speed, aggression, and skill to survive. This is reflected in their special rules that
allow them to make spearhead moves at the beginning of the game, and give their unarmoured jeeps a greater survivability.While the core of a Palsar is it’s machine-gun-armed jeeps and half-tracks, they usually an array of powerful friends to back them up: heavy and light tanks (including the unusual French AMX-13),
recoilless anti-tank guns mounted on jeeps, 120mm mortars in half-tracks, and virtually the full array of Israeli troops.
A P’lugah Sayur is not for the faint hearted. With the right mix of aggression and cunning it can beat any foe. Used rashly though, it’s lightly-protected troops will be destroyed in short order.
|P’lugah Ch’ir Mamochan (Motorised Infantry Company)|
Infantry had long been the mainstay of the Israeli Defence Force. By 1967, a large number of battalions had been motorised with American M3 half-tracks in all of their many variants (the Israelis did not distinguish between the M2, M3, M5, disarmed M14, etc.). These battalions provided the armoured and mechanised brigades with infantry capable of keeping up with the tank forces.Even more battalions remained on foot, using civilian buses to take them to war, but marching and fighting on foot. In the hilly terrain of Jordan and against the mountainous Golan Heights, half-tracks would often be of little value, making the dismounted infantry the main combat force.The P’lugah Ch’ir Mamochan (Motorised Infantry Company) has options to field your infantry in half-tracks or field them on foot. In both cases they have plenty of support from light and heavy mortars, half-track and jeep-mounted anti-tank guns, artillery, tanks, and aircraft.
In a world populated by plenty of tanks on both sides, infantry may seem an anachronism. However, Israeli infantry are well equipped to deal with tanks, having Belgian Blindicide bazookas and plenty of Mecar anti-tank rifle grenades, along with their jeep-mounted recoilless anti-tank guns and half-tracked tank killers. In any sort of terrain, Arab tanks need to be very wary of getting too close. Equally importantly, the infantry are the best method for digging the Arabs out of their fortified defences, especially in rough terrain or built-up areas like Jerusalem or Gaza.
A P’lugah Ch’ir Mamochan is a solid force that can take and dish out a lot of punishment. It’s not as flashy as a tank company, but under good leadership it can take on all comers and win.
|P’lugah Tzanhanim (Paratrooper Company)|
Israel’s Tzanhanim, paratroopers, were conceived of as its elite force, with a higher proportion than any other arm
operating with the regular army rather than the reserves. Between the wars, the paratroopers kept their fighting edge by
launching almost all of the Israeli raids into Jordanian territory in retaliation for the Palestinian attacks.Although Israel planned an airborne drop on the airfield at El Arish, the tanks reached it by the first evening, cancelling
the drop. As a result, the Tzanhanim fought the whole war on the ground aside from a few small helicopter insertions.
One brigade even spearheaded the ground attack in the Sinai mounted in half-tracks!Although organised much like the normal infantry, the paratroopers had lighter supporting weapons, relying more on
man-packed machine-guns and mortars and jeep-mounted guns than the infantry. You can field your P’lugah Tzanhanim either on foot or in half-tracks. Being fearless, these troops can be expected to tackle any foe without hesitation.
A P’lugah Tzanhanim is a lethal blend of skill and ruthless determination, an ideal force for the elite commander.
|United Arab Republic Sinai Field Army (AKA Egyptian Army)|
The United Arab Republic (as Egypt was known at the time), has an axe to grind. The Egyptian Army was humiliated twice by Israel, once in 1948, and then again in 1956. The new Soviet-backed republican army didn’t intend to be humiliated a third time. This time it had the latest Soviet equipment, and plenty of it, along with Soviet advisors to show it how to use its new weapons.Unfortunately, the leadership still exhibited the same faults, leading to another defeat. Despite making explicit threats to annihilate Israel and mobilising a huge army on Israel’s border, the Egyptian leadership didn’t really expect a war. When the Israelis decided not to wait for them to change their mind, the generals were stunned and shocked. By the end of the first day, panicked orders had gone out for the Sinai Field Army to retreat to the Suez Canal, abandoning the field.This order was premature as half of the Sinai Field Army (including most of its counterattack force) hadn’t engaged the enemy, and those that had been attacked fought hard, despite the surprise and the confusion of their superiors.
The United Arab Republic special rules bring this dichotomy to the gaming table. The Mothabara (Perseverance) special rule allows them to re-roll failed Motivation Tests to counterattack in assaults, reflecting their determination to hold what they have. The Qadri (Fatalism) special rule means that even if their officers fail a morale check and ‘obey the order to get back to the Suez as fast as possible’, the rank and file may fight on.
Combined with Quality of Quantity that means you field a full battalion rather than just a company, this makes the Arab forces very stubborn, although a bit tactically clumsy. As a UAR player, you need to keep the big picture in mind, delivering coordinated sledgehammer blows to smash your opponent. Don’t worry too much about casualties. There are plenty of fellahin (peasants) to replace them and the Soviet Union will always send more equipment if you need it.
|Kateybat Debabbat (Tank Battalion)|
When the King was deposed, Egypt’s new republican government turned away from its alliance with Britain and towards the Soviet Union. In response, they were given large numbers on new tanks, both WWII-era T-34/85 medium and IS-3 heavy tanks and more modern T-54 and T-55 medium tanks to supplement the handful of early model British Centurion tanks they already had. The armour of the T-54 and T-55 is the equal of any British or American tank and their 100mm gun will penetrate anything on the battlefield. On top of this, Soviet technology such as stabilisers and infra-red night-fighting equipment allow the latest T-55 tanks to fight on the move or at night with little penalty.Lacking an educated population (oreven one familiar with machinery), the UAR followed the Soviet approach of centralised control. This allowed them to field far more tanks than the Israelis at the cost of less tactical flexibility. The Taa’a (Obedience) special rule gives you cheaper tanks, but makes all of the tanks in each company move and fight together. A Kateybat Debabbat gives a player overwhelming force, fielding large numbers of powerful tanks. The challenge to the player is to overcome the inertia of their subordinates to orchestrate victory.Kateybat Moshaa Mekaneekey (Mechanised Infantry) Matching their armoured force, the Soviet provided the United Arab Republic with large numbers of BTR-152 six-wheeled armoured transporters. The Soviet Union also supplied plenty of recoilless guns, anti-tank guns, and artillery to support them. These allowed them to mechanise several brigades of infantry to support their tank attacks.
In the event, the mechanised brigades were ordered to withdraw before making contact with the enemy, so we can only speculate how well they would have done. However, given that they were backed by IS-3 heavy tanks (which the Israelis had great difficulty in penetrating) and modern T-54 and T-55 tanks, along with the fact that they have plenty of anti-tank weapons, they could have made a good showing given a chance. If they’d been used in their intended role of an attack into southern Israel, their ability to hold ground gained by the armoured brigades against Israeli counterattacks (whether by tanks or infantry) would have been a vital part of any United Arab Republic plan.
A Kateybat Moshaa Mekaneekey is a flexible force. Everything in it is highly mobile, allowing it to concentrate its force in both the attack and defence. The Kateybat Moshaa Mekaneekey intelligence briefing is not included in the printed book. It is available from the Flames Of War Digital app.
|Kateybat Moshaa (Infantry Battalion)|
The United Arab Republic’s Sinai Field Army had more than a decade to prepare for war with Israel after their defeat in 1956. They spent this time well in terms of establishing fortified defences along every possible avenue of advance. These were laid out in the Soviet style with layers of minefields and barbed wire, backed with two or three trench systems for the defending infantry. The infantry’s own T-34/85 tanks were dug in supporting the infantry, along with their anti-tank guns. Next was a massive artillery park, waiting to pound the attacking forces as they tried to penetrate the defences.Behind this shield waited the sword, a powerful counterattack force of heavy tanks. If that wasn’t enough to fully restore the situation, armoured brigades equipped with the latest T-54 and T-55 tanks waited in reserve to finish off the weakened Israeli attackers.Although these defences didn’t stop the Israelis when the balloon went up, they did cause them considerable delay and casualties. If the reserve forces had been able to counterattack instead of being intercepted by an Israeli armoured brigade finding a way through ‘impassable’ terrain, the plan might have worked.
A Kateybat Moshaa has a unique style of play. Secure behind their fortifications, the player can plan out their counterstrike to destroy the enemy.
|Jordan Arab Army|
Despite doing well in 1948 in Israel’s War of Independence, Jordan had little desire to fight its neighbour again. As a small and relatively poor country, Jordan had no illusions about its ability to defeat Israel on its own. In line with this caution, Jordan massively expanded and modernised its army in the wake of the 1956 Suez Crisis. By 1967, it was in may ways the most modern of the contending
armies.Once pressured by the United Arab Republic’s President Nasser into joining the war against Israel, Jordan committed its best troops to the battle. These fought tenaciously, holding their positions until forced out at the point of a bayonet. This is reflected by the Jordanian Lions special rule that allows them to re-roll Motivation Tests to counterattack in assaults. Unfortunately, the Jordanian Arab Army showed many of the faults of the other Arab armies in having a huge gulf between the Hashemite Bedouin officers and their largely Hadari and Palestinian soldiers. The Israelis reported capturing very few officers when they finally stormed well-defended positions. The Qadri (Fatalism) special rule reflects
this as, even if their officers fail a morale check and retire to the Jordan, the rank and file may fight on.
Sareya Mudara’aa (Armoured Squadron)
The Jordan Arab Army used their own variety of British doctrine and used modern British and American tanks in its two armoured brigades and the handful of independent squadrons supporting the key infantry brigades. The 40th and 60th Armoured Brigades were equipped with the same American M48 medium tank as their Israeli opponents (although the Israelis all of their M48 tanks in the Sinai as it happened). The independent squadrons had British Centurion tanks. Unlike the other armies, they had no old WWII-era tanks.In line with their plan for the war, Operation Tariq, a Sareya Mudara’aa always defends, forcing the Israelis to attack into the face of their powerful modern guns. Their capabilities are further enhanced by the Professional Traditions special rule which reflects the British emphasis on accurate fire. Jordanian tanks can re-roll misses at long range if they don’t move. A Sareya Mudara’aa provides an Arab player with the opportunity to field Western tanks in a Western style army.
|Sareyat Mosha’aa Mekaneekey (Mechanised Infantry)|
The armoured brigades each had a battalion of infantry mounted in the latest American M113 armoured personnel carriers. These operated to cover the flanks of the (battalion-sized) armoured regiments, with one battalion fighting a defensive action against an outflanking Israeli tank force near Jenin.Like the armoured squadron, the mechanised infantry always defend. The infantry are equipped with reliable M1 Garand rifles and Bren light machine-guns, backed up by M20 Super Bazookas and M40 106mm recoilless anti-tank guns mounted on jeeps to keep tanks at bay. With some tank and artillery support, they are well positioned to hold any ground, and counterattack as needed.A Sareyat Mosha’aa Mekaneekey has all of the advantages of mobility, while not being required to attack, giving it a serious advantage.
The Sareyat Mosha’aa Mekaneekey intelligence briefing is not included in the printed book. It is available from the Flames Of War Digital app.
Sareyat Mosha’aa (Infantry Company)
Unfortunately, the planned counterattack forces were diverted to support fictitious Egyptian advances, leaving the defences isolated until they eventually fell. As a player though, you have the opportunity to see what would have happened if the Jordanians had been able to implement Operation Tariq (Victory) as planned. Could you, with a free hand and proper support, have held Jerusalem?
A Sareyat Mosha’aa gives you a series of strong defensive positions, with a solid force of powerful modern tanks to defeat any penetrations.
|Syrian Arab Army|
Although Syria was heavily involved in the events leading up to the Six-Day War, they sat out the first four days, then attempted to get a United Nations imposed ceasefire before Israel could spare the forces to attack them. Even when Israel attacked, the Syrian leadership felt secure behind the defences of the Golan Heights, situated atop a rocky, mountainous slope, accessible only by goat tracks.The defences were in the Soviet style with lines of mines and barbed wire protecting bunkers and dug-in tanks, all backed by a large artillery park. Interestingly, the tanks were mostly old WWIIera German tanks like the Panzer IV, and the StuG and Jagdpanzer assault guns.Kateybat Moshaa (Infantry Battalion)
The Syrian defences along the Golan Heights cost the Israelis dearly. They lost more tanks fighting their way up the heights than they did against either of their other opponents. Like the United Arab Republic, the Syrian Arab Army deployed armoured brigades behind the Golan Heights as counterattack reserves. Had they made their counterattacks, the cost could have been much higher. Unfortunately for the Syrians, the leadership followed the now familiar pattern and panicked, ordering a retreat back to Damascus that quickly turned into a rout. A Syrian Kateybat Moshaa is similar to those in the Sinai, with the difference that it allows you to field interesting tanks like the Panzer IV!
The Syrian Kateybat Moshaa intelligence briefing is not included in the printed book. It is available from the Flames Of War Digital app.
If you wanted to try a ‘what if’ game and field a Syrian armoured counterattack force, you could use the UAR Kateybat Debabbat as they were organised and equipped identically.