CDG 40 – Battle of Jerusalem, 1967
On June 5, 1967, Israel, believing a new attack by Arab coalition forces was imminent, launched pre-emptive strikes against Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian air forces, destroying most of the Arabs’ planes while they were still on the ground.
Jordanian ground forces quickly attacked Jerusalem, a city holy to Jews, Muslims and Christians, which had been divided into an Israeli section and an Arab section since the 1948 war. Israel’s leaders saw the Jordanian attack as a chance to launch a two-pronged counterstrike that could wrest the Old City and East Jerusalem from Arab control.
In this Armchair General Command Decision Game, you assume the role of Col. Mordechai "Motta" Gur, commander of the Israeli 55th Parachute Brigade, which was preparing for a jump into Egypt when word arrived ordering the battalion to move by land and form the northern pincher of the Israeli counterattack. One soldier mutters disgustedly, "It will be a combat jump from the back of a bus," but frustration fades as the troops learn this is to be an offensive action, not a defensive one. They have not been trained for city fighting but are capable of sound, independent and determined action.
Their firepower includes 9mm Uzi submachine guns for close work and 7.62 FN/FAL assault rifles, which can also fire rifle grenades. Each squad has a heavy-barreled, bipod version of the assault rifle that is capable of automatic fire. Every company has FN MAG 7.62mm machine guns, and each battalion’s heavy weapons company has 3.5-inch bazookas and .50-caliber heavy MGs, plus an 81mm mortar platoon. Rounding out your force is a mobile company of jeep-mounted 106mm recoilless rifles, a recon company and an engineer company.
Ten M-50 Sherman tanks, upgraded with an improved, French-made, high-velocity 75mm gun, are attached to your command, and the Jerusalem Brigade to the south of you can provide support with 25-pounder (88mm) artillery and 120mm mortars.
Your Jordanian opponents, according to intel, belong to the 3d "Talal" Infantry Brigade, reinforced with an extra battalion. Each battalion consists of four infantry companies, primarily armed with U.S.-made M-1 Garand semi-automatic rifles, with organic 81mm mortar support for each company. Like your troops, the Jordanians employ jeep-mounted 106mm recoilless rifles and have artillery support.
Their exact positions are unknown, but some are known to be occupying extensive bunkers and trenchworks on Ammunition Hill, a key position north of the city. A reinforced company is in the Old City proper, while 81mm mortars are in Wadi el Joz between the city and Ammunition Hill, and 25-pounder artillery is positioned on Mivtar Hill to the north. East of the city, on Augusta Victoria Hill and the Mount of Olives, machine-guns, mortars and snipers have been identified, probably supported by infantry.
Adding to your concerns is the knowledge that civilian casualties must be minimized.
After arriving with your brigade, consisting of three battalions of 500 men each, around 5 p.m., you lay out three potential courses of action to your staff and battalion commanders.
Course of Action One: Night Attack
This plan would divide the brigade into two assault forces and utilize the cover of darkness. The 66th battalion, with a platoon of M-50 tanks, are to capture Ammunition Hill. The 28th and 71st battalions, with the other tanks, will attack from north of the Old City wall to seize Wadi el Joz. The 28th will then position near the wall’s northeast corner to protect the 71st’s flank, and continue the attack to capture Augusta Victoria Hill. Possession of the Ammunition and Augusta Victoria hills will essentially cut off the Old City and position your brigade to attack and clear any remaining enemy forces.
The advantage of attacking in darkness is obvious, but it also has its perils. The men would have to move through a warren of twisting, unfamiliar streets in darkness, which might cause them to miss their objectives. It won’t be possible to accurately call in artillery or air support.
Course of Action Two: Daylight Assault
Employ the identical assault plan as above, but do it in daylight when the troops can see where they are going, the tanks can have clear sight for direct fire, and observers can call in artillery and air support effectively. Daylight will help reduce unnecessary civilian casualties in the heavily populated area of East Jerusalem.
The greatest drawback is that the Jordanians will see better, too, for directing their direct and indirect fire.
Course of Action Three: Three-Pronged Attack
Attack just before dawn along separate axes of advance. The 66th Battalion and one tank platoon will assault Ammunition Hill, as in the other plans. The 71st, with the other armor platoon minus two tanks, will follow the route given above to capture first Wadi el Joz, then Augusta Victoria Hill. The 28th and two tanks will attack along the Old City wall, then join the 71st in a coordinated attack on Augusta Victoria Hill. This plan provides cover of darkness for its initial stages and the advantages of daylight as the attacks progress.
The dangers involve potential flanking fire from the reinforced Jordanian company in the Old City, and the maze of unfamiliar streets may bring the 28th and 71st into close proximity with each other, risking friendly fire casualties. Additionally, buildings may interfere with radio transmissions, potentially creating difficulties in coordinating the actions of the 28th and 71st battalions.
Colonel Gur, which of these options do you choose? Or is yet another plan forming in your mind?
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