Tags

, , , , , ,

The TOAW scenario for the war in the West Bank provides an overview of the fighting the meshes very well with the narrative from Chaim Herzog’s The Arab-Israeli Wars: War and Peace in the Middle East. I suspect that a key reason for that is that good sources for tactical details may be a little thin on the ground and that the scenario is sourced, to a large extent, from the very text that I am reading.

This my fifth in a series of posts on the Six-Day War. See here for the previous post in the series and here to go back to the master post.

 

While it is authored by a different person, this West Bank scenario makes a fine accompaniment to the Sinai front scenario which I had played earlier. I’m being a little glib about the “single source” for scenario development. He explains that this scenario is originally based on the 1977 Mark Herman board game The Battle for Jerusalem 1967. However, the notes also cite a number of sources used to update using information that has become available in the 30 years since the board game’s publication. Arab-Israeli warfare stands in contrast to American engagements, like Vietnam, where there is extensive written detail from both the military and the memoirs of veterans.

Coinciding with reality, the Jordanians are considerably easier to deal with than the Egyptians were. In Sinai 67, early tactical achievements were necessary to demoralize the Egyptians and force them to withdraw. Without that historical advantage, it becomes very difficult to beat the scenario. In West Bank 67, although there are a few challenging fights here and there, it is relatively easy to steadily force Jordan from the West Bank. The game makes clear that key element in the Israeli victory was the mastery of the air. Interdiction prevents Jordan and Iraqi reinforcements from coming into play and limits the ability of Jordan to maneuver defensively.

westbank1

Heavy fighting in Jerusalem’s Old City.

I’ll highlight a couple more remarkable features of this scenario. The design is more “zoomed in”  than what seems “normal” to me. Comparing West Bank 67 with Sinai 67, the map scale is the same for both, but the unit “counters” are a level finer grained. Whereas in the Sinai, we mostly maneuvered at the battalion level, in the West Bank we move individual companies. Comparing with the Vietnam Combat Operations series and its more encompassing map (2.5 km versus 4 km), the unit scale differential is also similar. This may not seem like a big deal, but when you see a recon unit with only 3 vehicles total, it doesn’t feel like a typical TOAW game. Compare also with the Middle East ’67, where the map is zoomed in (1.6 km / 1 mile) but the unit representation is larger.

westbank2

A tank company survives the war intact.

Another impression is that West Bank 67 gets the dynamics of the war about right. Even as the scenario came to an end, Israel retained her fighting power. In other words, the campaign didn’t just turn into a battle of attrition. Israeli units are capable of completely annihilating their counterparts while surviving relatively unscathed. This is contrast to most TOAW scenario as well as scenarios from other engines. The downside to this is it seemed almost impossible not to achieve a decisive victory. Both the scenario notes and the victory screen make it clear that Jordan will be crushed. Even with a decisive victory, you have simply matched the performance of the Israeli forces in the Six Day War.

Return to the master post for the Six Day War or continue on to the next article.