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Historical Israel-Arab wars Discuss the strategies and the situation of the historical Israeli-Arab wars from 1948-1982 and it's implications on Israel.

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  #1  
Old 05-25-2008, 09:16 PM
Berger Berger is offline
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Default Question about Yom Kippur war

This is a question which has puzzled me for some time:

When you read about the Yom Kippur, two facts are usually made apparent:

1.) Golda Meir decided not to pre-emptively attack the Arab countries shortly before the war began. This apparently was a tough decision, and thus there must have been significant intelligence to suggest an Arab attack was possible.

2.) When the Arabs actually attacked, the IDF was caught by surprise, and was vastly outnumbered on both fronts, leading to disastrous early losses for Israel.

Now these two facts contradict each other. If Golda knew there was a significant possibility of an Arab attack, even if she didn't decide to pre-empt, why didn't she order a full-alert status to the IDF and call up the reserves, prepare for counter attacks, etc? Why did the army have to be completely outnumbered, just because she didn't want to pre-empt? Why couldn't she have just made a compromise and fully prepared the IDF for attack? Doesn't make any sense.

Thanks!
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Old 05-25-2008, 10:56 PM
*titanium* *titanium* is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Berger View Post
This is a question which has puzzled me for some time:

When you read about the Yom Kippur, two facts are usually made apparent:

1.) Golda Meir decided not to pre-emptively attack the Arab countries shortly before the war began. This apparently was a tough decision, and thus there must have been significant intelligence to suggest an Arab attack was possible.

2.) When the Arabs actually attacked, the IDF was caught by surprise, and was vastly outnumbered on both fronts, leading to disastrous early losses for Israel.

Now these two facts contradict each other. If Golda knew there was a significant possibility of an Arab attack, even if she didn't decide to pre-empt, why didn't she order a full-alert status to the IDF and call up the reserves, prepare for counter attacks, etc? Why did the army have to be completely outnumbered, just because she didn't want to pre-empt? Why couldn't she have just made a compromise and fully prepared the IDF for attack? Doesn't make any sense.

Thanks!
Iv'e wondered this myself. I know that the reason that she decided against a pre emptive attack was because the USA (kissinger?) said that if Israel attack first they will not get any assistance what so ever. Why was the army not put on high alert? Maybe they did not think the threat was eminant enough to call up reserves, especially since it was yom kippur. Golda Meir resigned after the war, which leads me to the conclusion that there was no 'reason' not to put the army on high alert, and that it was simply a huge mistake. What was it, 600 Israeli soldiers in the Barlev line at the time of the attack? One of the main lines of defence was to cover the suez with oil and set it on fire, but they did not count on the egypt plugging up the oil pipes with concrete.
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Old 05-26-2008, 02:00 AM
joejd12 joejd12 is offline
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well.... i know the reason golda decided not to pre-emptively attack Syria and Egypt was because she was almost certain that such a pre-emptive attack would not eliminate the threat posed on israel and that even if we had pre-emptively attacked a long and bloody war would have still followed, so she decided that we could not afford to appear as the aggressors because the chances that we would need airlifts and assistance from other countries was high...

as to why our forces werent put on a high alert, well, that has to do with one thing, money...

the Egyptians and Syrians had planned on attacking us earlier than when they ended up doing so, but our intelligence reported their troop movements and our forces were put on a high alert (im pretty sure reserves were called up too), and so they postponed their attack and the military command in israel was sure that they were simply exercising near the border and were not planning any such attack, so when the egyptians and syrians prepared for an attack for the second time, most of golda meirs advisors advised againt calling up the reserves and said that the arabs were simply flexing muscles and exercising their troops (though i know of at least one advisor who said that we must call up the reserves, his story was told over and over again for several decades now), and so golda decided not to call up the reserves because doing so costs enormous amounts of money and it was also a religious holiday....
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Old 05-26-2008, 02:18 AM
Berger Berger is offline
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Originally Posted by *titanium* View Post
Iv'e wondered this myself. I know that the reason that she decided against a pre emptive attack was because the USA (kissinger?) said that if Israel attack first they will not get any assistance what so ever. Why was the army not put on high alert? Maybe they did not think the threat was eminant enough to call up reserves, especially since it was yom kippur. Golda Meir resigned after the war, which leads me to the conclusion that there was no 'reason' not to put the army on high alert, and that it was simply a huge mistake. What was it, 600 Israeli soldiers in the Barlev line at the time of the attack? One of the main lines of defence was to cover the suez with oil and set it on fire, but they did not count on the egypt plugging up the oil pipes with concrete.
Too bad the oil pipe defenses didn't work, it probably would have done a lot to repel the Egyptions. The sand-walls also failed because the Egyptions had a plan and really wanted to win this one. Then again it could be it happened only because of the poor state of readiness of the IDF.

But yeah, I just can't see any reason why there shouldn't have been a general order of readiness for the IDF. Nothing I've read indicates that people even realize this is an issue. I wonder what the docterine of the IDF today would say about a similar situation...Hopefully it is fixed...
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Old 05-26-2008, 02:23 AM
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Originally Posted by joejd12 View Post

the Egyptians and Syrians had planned on attacking us earlier than when they ended up doing so, but our intelligence reported their troop movements and our forces were put on a high alert (im pretty sure reserves were called up too), and so they postponed their attack and the military command in israel was sure that they were simply exercising near the border and were not planning any such attack, so when the egyptians and syrians prepared for an attack for the second time, most of golda meirs advisors advised againt calling up the reserves and said that the arabs were simply flexing muscles and exercising their troops (though i know of at least one advisor who said that we must call up the reserves, his story was told over and over again for several decades now), and so golda decided not to call up the reserves because doing so costs enormous amounts of money and it was also a religious holiday....

Thanks, that is informative. But I still don't see it as an excuse. Golda still consciously made the decision not to pre-empt, and Kissinger even sent her a note not to, so it was unlikely just a run of the mill millitary decision. Secondly, although it may be costly to call up the reserves everytime there is a possible threat, it is still far cheaper than losing disastrously because of not being prepared, especially considering Israel could have lost the war completely. That is just basic economics, and it is shameful that Golda and her advisors couldn't understand something so basic.
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Old 05-26-2008, 03:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Berger View Post
Thanks, that is informative. But I still don't see it as an excuse. Golda still consciously made the decision not to pre-empt, and Kissinger even sent her a note not to, so it was unlikely just a run of the mill millitary decision. Secondly, although it may be costly to call up the reserves everytime there is a possible threat, it is still far cheaper than losing disastrously because of not being prepared, especially considering Israel could have lost the war completely. That is just basic economics, and it is shameful that Golda and her advisors couldn't understand something so basic.

while i completely agree with the points you stated in your post, you must consider the state of mind most israelis were in at the time.

we had just defeated the egyptians and syrians in the 6 day war and were infected with the so called "victory disease", they believed we simply COULD NOT lose, we thought the arab armies were not capable of fighting a modern war and could not challenge our superior forces.

your question also made me think about one other factor, we had nukes....


our leaders probably felt like they could count on our nuclear arsenal if our army failed to protect us, which raises the question of why they didnt just nuke the arab states as soon as they attacked us (probably obvious reasons like internation pressure, afraid of internation anger etc.) it sure as hell would have solved a lot of problems for us.... in fact, we would not be in teh situation we are in today had they nuked them....
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Old 05-26-2008, 04:07 PM
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Golda Meir may have been many things but one thing she was for sure was a woman of great courage and determination. I say this because it took both to go to President of the United States Richard Nixon and face him down in such a way so as make him understand Israel’s needs as his own. To make him come to the aid of Israel as he ordered after that meeting with her was unprecedented and I give her all the credit which is due her after in such a critical time as the Yom Kippur War. Operation Nickel Grass, the airlift to Israel lasted 32 days. The US airlift of 22,305 tons to Israel was impressive, nevertheless. The C-141s flew 421 missions to Israel, delivering 11,632 tons of equipment and supplies, while the C-5s flew 145 missions and delivered 10,673 tons of cargo. Some 48 percent of the total tonnage was moved on Galaxy flights, yet they flew only 25 percent of the missions. Another example of the impact of the airlift on the war was the effectiveness of the TOW and Maverick missiles. According to the Defense Intelligence Agency, these weapons were responsible for the majority of Israeli tank kills (Arab losses were estimated at 1,900 tanks during the war). Since the TOW and Maverick were not present in the Israeli inventory in any significant numbers before the war began, it is apparent that the missiles delivered by airlift the difference.


Due to the “"NSSM 40," files and information the US Government had been gathering for years it knew that Israel had been developing “the bomb” at Dimona. Even, I your forum moderator was approached by Army Intelligence to gather any information from the Israeli Air Defense officers I was training with at Fort Bliss, Texas. The Israelis were stationed at Dimona and they were here in the USA during the summer of 1971 however I refused despite the Army’s pressure to co-operate as I liked these men and felt both a bond and trust with them. They were also the first Jews I had ever met. The way I heard the story, Golda Meir let Nixon know that Israel did not want to be the first ones in the Middle East to use nuclear weapons. Israel would win the war by Israeli sacrifice but before Israel would let her enemies "drive them into the sea" as their Muslim nation neighbors so often threatened "they would turn every Muslim capital city into a smoking cinder." Now that is not fact but just a rumor mind you but if I had been Golda that sounds like a fair assessment of the situation to me.

Last edited by Paparock; 05-26-2008 at 04:20 PM..
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Old 05-26-2008, 06:29 PM
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rafi rafi is offline
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Paparock,

I just spoke to that point in the other thread about the YK War. The proximity in time between the rumor starting that Israel was fueling missiles and the time the airlifts began was an amazing coincidence.

Not that I'm suggesting a confirmation of anything you spoke of as being true, but did we meet in Wichita Falls during the time you described? I may or may not have been there in the early 70s training on equipment that may or may not ever have been given to the IAF.

Last edited by rafi; 05-27-2008 at 12:40 AM..
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Old 05-27-2008, 01:51 AM
haamimhagolan haamimhagolan is offline
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It has been widely reported that when Chief of Staff General David Elazar met with Defense Minister Moshe Dayan at 5:50 on the morning of Yom Kippur - by which time the reality of the impending invasion should have been readily apparent - Gen Elazar recommended that Israel's reserves be immediately mobilized. His request was refused, in the belief that a full mobilization would "alarm" the Arab world and be seized upon as a pretext for war. Dayan would only agree to a partial mobilization of 50,000 to 60,000 men. The two of them bickered until they finally brought the matter to Prime Minister Golda Meir, who approved a compromise mobilization plan for up to 120,000 men. By the time that this notice for a partial call-up of reserves was approved, it was between 9:00 and 10:00. The invasion of course, came at 14:00.[1][2][3]

Requests by Israel's Air Force Chief Benny Peled to launch a preemptive air strike were similarly denied. If Israel's political echelons were afraid that a full mobilization would be too provocative for the international community to stomache, they certainly would not countenance a preemptive air raid.


References:
[1] Abraham Rabinovich, The Yom Kippur War (New York, Shocken Books, 2004), p. 87-89.
[2] Chaim Herzog, The Arab-Israeli Wars (New York, Vintage Books, 1984), p. 230.
[3] Jerry Asher and Eric Hammel, Duel for the Golan (Pacifica, California, Pacifica Military History, 1987), pp. 69-74.
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Old 05-27-2008, 02:22 AM
haamimhagolan haamimhagolan is offline
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The whole episode reminds me of a well known joke about an American, a Britishman, and an Israeli who are captured by cannibals. Each is given one last request before they are to be butchered and eaten. When they get to the Israeli, the Israeli asks for "A kick in the ass." The cannibals are confused by this strange request, but comply nonetheless, after which the Israeli pulls out a pistol and begins shooting until all of the cannibals are either dead or have fled.

The American and Britishman are of course grateful to have survived their brush with death, but have to ask the Israeli: If you had a gun, why didn't you just use it? To which the Israeli replied, "I didn't want to be accused of being the aggressor."
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Old 05-27-2008, 10:59 AM
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from what I have read it wasn't Golda Meir so much as the defense minister and army chiefs who delayed any build up and despite Israel's record against it's neighbours certain military types and politicians still doubted that they could defeat the Arabs.
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Old 12-23-2008, 05:08 AM
ira ira is offline
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Originally Posted by haamimhagolan View Post
It has been widely reported that when Chief of Staff General David Elazar met with Defense Minister Moshe Dayan at 5:50 on the morning of Yom Kippur - by which time the reality of the impending invasion should have been readily apparent - Gen Elazar recommended that Israel's reserves be immediately mobilized. His request was refused, in the belief that a full mobilization would "alarm" the Arab world and be seized upon as a pretext for war. Dayan would only agree to a partial mobilization of 50,000 to 60,000 men. The two of them bickered until they finally brought the matter to Prime Minister Golda Meir, who approved a compromise mobilization plan for up to 120,000 men. By the time that this notice for a partial call-up of reserves was approved, it was between 9:00 and 10:00. The invasion of course, came at 14:00.[1][2][3]

Requests by Israel's Air Force Chief Benny Peled to launch a preemptive air strike were similarly denied. If Israel's political echelons were afraid that a full mobilization would be too provocative for the international community to stomache, they certainly would not countenance a preemptive air raid.


References:
[1] Abraham Rabinovich, The Yom Kippur War (New York, Shocken Books, 2004), p. 87-89.
[2] Chaim Herzog, The Arab-Israeli Wars (New York, Vintage Books, 1984), p. 230.
[3] Jerry Asher and Eric Hammel, Duel for the Golan (Pacifica, California, Pacifica Military History, 1987), pp. 69-74.

At the time there was the belief that the Airforce could hold back any invasion until the reserve forces could be mobilised. The Barlev line (outposts on the canal and armor directly behind the canal) were there only to be a holding force until the reserves arrived. It was the job of air power to hold back any mass invasion.

The same was true on the Golan Heights. The real miscalculation was in the inability of the Airforce to stop the forward movement of the arab armies.

Once the full force of the Israeli reserves faced the Arab armies the tide was turned. This was a supreme feat because because the army had to be mobilised and moved to two fronts with an Airforce which initially failed in it's prime mission to stop the onslaught of the first thrust of the Arab forces.
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Old 12-25-2008, 04:14 PM
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rafi rafi is offline
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Ira,
I'm not sure I agree with your criticism of the IAF. (surprised?)

Some great insight has already been brought forth, including:

1. Golda's belief that the world would finally see who was the bad guy and who the good guy (yeah, well, how'd that work out)

2. The IDF was in fact still in La La land regarding being Supermen. One year after the Yom Kippur War we were right back to that as well.

3. The Palestinians were making BIG bucks. In 1973 in Jericho on a Saturday night you couldn't find parking! The bakeries in Nazareth had 1 and 2 hour lines at 3 AM. Where we waited on line in shorts n t-shirts, unarmed.

4. The IDF problems:
a. no real discipline
b. irregular practices
c. excessive leaves given for major holidays
d. relatively poorly reinforced borders

In the end it was the individual soldier who saved the country. Within 48 hours reserve manpower was at 100%, and oddly enough, at hour 96 the manpower was at 112%. Guys bullied themselves onto their old bases and simply climbed on any equipment that wasn't currently manned. Civilians began laying boards on the streets of Tiberias so the tanks to could coordinate in the streets in preparation for the climb north.

My point is, that given the situations it had to work with, the IAF did a remarkable job in the early hours. The bases didn't have the manpower, or supplies staged properly for them to do any better.

The failure then, as in 2005 was in the leadership.

HaDag Masreach Meh HaRosh.

Transliteration is a famous proverb - A fish stinks from it's head.
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Old 12-26-2008, 03:44 PM
haamimhagolan haamimhagolan is offline
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The real miscalculation was in the inability of the Airforce to stop the forward movement of the arab armies.
There were a lot of miscalculations that led to the sorry state of readiness that the Israel Defense Force found themself in during the opening hours of the Yom Kippur War. One of the central ones, however, was the presumed willingness of the Israeli leadership to authorize a preemptive air strike that would (in theory) have cleared the Syrian and Egyptian missile defenses throughout the front.

The Heyl HaAvir had developed a pair of elaborate plans, code named Tagar and Dougman V, that were aimed at eradicating the anti-aircraft defenses on the Egyptian and Syrian fronts. The plans hinged, however, on the ability to dedicate the entire air force to eliminating the opposing missile batteries before they were called upon to perform close air support and interdiction missions.[1]

When the decision was made to deny the IDF the option of preemption, those plans died with it. Instead, Israeli pilots were asked to fly directly into the path of a fully operational air defense network - on both fronts - in an attempt to slow the advance of the Egyptian and Syrian armored formations. At that time electronic warfare was in its infancy, and the Israelis were completely dependent on the US for the limited suite of electronic countermeasures at their disposal. Israeli pilots fell in droves, or were forced to prematurely drop their payloads and abort missions while they evaded incoming Egyptian and Syrian missiles. The Israelis lost 102 aircraft during the Yom Kippur War, over half of which were lost in the opening four days. Losses were particularly high among the Skyhawk squadrons, which were dedicated to close air support.[2] Taken in total, nearly one out of every four Israeli combat aircraft was lost during that war.[3] The ability of the Heyl HaAvir to halt the Egyptian and Syrian advances on the ground had been severely curtailed by their heavy losses, and by their inability to reliably deliver payloads in the face of the Egyptian and Syrian anti-aircraft defenses.

Following the Yom Kippur War, many changes were made. The Israelis decided that they needed to develop their own electronic countermeasures, and not rely on the United States to supply them with what they needed. Israel's Air Force Intelligence was overhauled to provide timely target identification to the flight crews fighting the battle. But the fundamental lesson should still remain: Relying on the political echelons to make the right choices in the hours preceding the opening of hostilities can be a costly mistake.

References
[1] Ehud Yonay, No Margin for Error: The Making of the Israeli Air Force (New York, Pantheon Books, 1993), pp. 325-329.
[2] Lon Nordeen, Fighters Over Israel (New York, Orion Books, 1990), pp. 146-147.
[3] The Middle East Conflicts, ed. by John Pimlott (New York, Crescent Books, 1983), p. 82
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Old 12-27-2008, 05:16 PM
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Originally Posted by haamimhagolan View Post
Following the Yom Kippur War, many changes were made. The Israelis decided that they needed to develop their own electronic countermeasures, and not rely on the United States to supply them with what they needed. Israel's Air Force Intelligence was overhauled to provide timely target identification to the flight crews fighting the battle.
Israel also chose to begin development of remotely piloted vehicles (sometimes also known as "drones"), and quickly became the world leader. When Ronald Reagan reactivated the Iowa class battleships, they went to sea with Israeli made RPVs (the IAI "Pioneer") to perform the targeting role, as no US alternative was then available. (As an aside, from what I have heard, these early Israeli RPVs performed poorly in a salt water environment and suffered from electromagnetic interference with other systems aboard the ships.)

The US response to the effectiveness of Soviet SAMs was stealth.

Both RPVs and stealth remain with us today.
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Old 01-24-2009, 10:24 PM
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Arab started this war by full coordination with usa .presedent sadat god bless hime was behind design
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Old 01-24-2009, 11:44 PM
haamimhagolan haamimhagolan is offline
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Arab started this war by full coordination with usa .presedent sadat god bless hime was behind design
What are you trying to imply? That Egypt coordinated the war with the US? Maybe I'm not understanding your English. Please clarify.
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Old 01-25-2009, 01:06 AM
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I asked my father what he remembers, before the war he had been alerted but was told not to worry. The fact that we are not jewisg allowed him to be at his base the night of attack, He fought in Saini and we lived in Gallil. I remeber him going, when he left there were few soldiers going. ( most jews near us were religious) He was very worried he told my older brother to take me to wilderness if we saw anyone coming near our home who was not a haradi. :) My point is the cost prevented any real preperations and most sodliers were not at station.
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Old 02-04-2009, 05:39 PM
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Originally Posted by jayboy View Post
from what I have read it wasn't Golda Meir so much as the defense minister and army chiefs who delayed any build up and despite Israel's record against it's neighbours certain military types and politicians still doubted that they could defeat the Arabs.
Whatever Golda's intentions, she let Kissinger and Dayan influence her against her better instincts. CoS Eleazar argued for a full call-up, agreed to a partial call-up, and still issued orders to callup above and beyond what Dayan authorized.

I still think Dayan should have taken the fall from the Agranat Commission and not Dado.

As for Dougman and Tagar, I question whether they would have accomlished their goals since the IDF didn't have adequate (or any) ECMs at the outset. The problems they faced during the war would have been extant during a pre-emptive strike too.
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Old 02-05-2009, 12:01 AM
haamimhagolan haamimhagolan is offline
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As for Dougman and Tagar, I question whether they would have accomlished their goals since the IDF didn't have adequate (or any) ECMs at the outset. The problems they faced during the war would have been extant during a pre-emptive strike too.
I would agree that the ECM suite available at the time was less than ideal. Both Dougman V and Tagar were mammoth operations that required all of the available (American supplied) ECM pods to be operated in unison to blanket the target area. There are a variety of Israeli officers, however, who were convinced that some sort of preemption would still have been better than waiting for the Arabs to attack first.

The other big hurdle was the question of operational intelligence. After the war, Peled insisted that Israel's Air Force Intelligence take a more proactive role in tracking mobile targets - rather than waiting on Military Intelligence to supply the much needed, up-to-date targeting information.
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