Egyptian Materiel Preparations, The 1973 Arab-Israeli War
The Egyptians prepared for their role in the 1973 Arab-Israeli War with great diligence. The principal geographic feature of their front was, of course, the Suez Canal, essentially a broad river, one of the most formidable obstacles in military geography. Strengthening the Israeli hold on the east bank of the canal was the Bar-Lev Line, actually a series of concrete observation posts, positioned every 10-12 kilometers along the canal, though there were additional fortifications at the more likely crossing points. Each post held only about fifteen men and their primary task was to give warning of an Egyptian attempt to cross the canal, and direct artillery fire on them from batteries well in the rear. Behind the canal the Israelis held small armored and artillery units, and further back there were bases at which were stockpiled the weapons and equipment for reserve brigades, which could be mobilized within 24 hours of any attempt to cross the canal. The Israelis expected their artillery and air force to keep any canal crossing force busy until the reserve brigades could get moving towards the canal.
To get across the canal the Egyptians, under Anwar Sadat, realized that they needed a better army. They did this by allowing the Soviet Union considerable control over their training, a logical step since they were largely using Soviet equipment and had adopted Soviet tables of organization, not to mention the fact that the Russians knew how to turn masses of often illiterate peasants into decent soldiers. So the Egyptians trained hard, and often. But they also took some special measures to provide the divisions that would actually assault the canal line with special equipment.
There were to be five divisions in the assault wave, each assigned a front of approximately 8 kilometers. Each was given a lot of extra equipment, so that each of the five assault divisions could deploy on its front a formidable array of weapons.
|Assault Division Weapons Allotments|
|RPG-7 A/T Rockets|| 314|
|106mm Recoilless Rifles|| 108|
|Sagger ATGM Launchers|| 24|
|Artillery Pieces|| 260|
|Ground Support Aircraft||85|
This table shows the resources available to each of the five Egyptian assault divisions between its original organic allocation and the additional allotment of equipment. In comparison, the Israeli forces this host totaled about 460 infantrymen in the Bar Lev line, supported by 28 pieces of artillery, with about 300 tanks in reserve.
The Egyptian assault on October 6, 1973, was enormously successful, the result of surprise and overwhelming material superiority..
The Hazards of War
Across the years life in the White House has occasionally seen moments of great historical import. Normally, however, it has mostly been a quite place in which the President may live and work. Not so, of course, during the years in which Teddy Roosevelt and his brood inhabited the sedate mansion on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Many are the tales told of the adventures of the Roosevelt children, four rambunctious boys and two slightly less disorderly girls who lived in the White House for nearly eight years (1901-1909). There's the pony that made it to the upper floor, the banister sliding on the main staircase, and so forth. And then there was the occasion in 1908 when William Howard Taft popped by for a talk, bringing along his young son Charles.
The President's youngest son, Quentin, who would be killed in aerial combat over France on July 14, 1918, was a good friend of Charles Taft, who had far more disciplined upbringing. The two boys soon wandered into the President's office. On the wall was the sword that Roosevelt had carried at San Juan Hill in 1898.
Quentin took the sword down from the wall, and began to wave it in the air, shouting "Step up and see the i-d-e-n-t-i-c-a-l sword carried by Colonel Thee-a-dore Roos-evelt in the capture of San Juan Hill. See it! See it!" The inevitable happened. One of Quentin's wild swings connected with Charles' cheek, inflicting a cut, which fortunately was not serious.
What transpired between Roosevelt pere and Roosevelt fils after young Charles' wound had been bandaged, apologies offered, and the Tafts' departure is unrecorded.