Egyptian General Mohamed Fawzi Part Iv: The Egyptian Armed Forces Collapse before His Eyes - the 1967 Six-Day War

By Aboul-Enein, Youssef | Infantry, November/December 2012 | Go to article overview

Egyptian General Mohamed Fawzi Part Iv: The Egyptian Armed Forces Collapse before His Eyes - the 1967 Six-Day War


Aboul-Enein, Youssef, Infantry


At the National Intelligence University, we conduct a one-year, graduate-level study program that develops expertise and in-depth knowledge in understanding and countering adversary denial and deception tactics, techniques, and procedures directed towards the U.S. Nothing is more important to countering foreign denial and deception than understanding the mind of our adversaries and even allies, who conduct deliberate attempts at deception. To penetrate the mind, one must cultivate empathy. To do this, one must read what our adversaries are reading and writing for their consumption. This requires careful examination of their narratives, histories, and perspectives from a non- Western point of view.

To this end, we are glad to count CDR Aboul-Enein as one of our speakers during the phase of our program that explores the Arab mind. He has been instrumental in teaching, speaking, and writing about the Middle East for years. His current project brings to life the memoirs of General Mohamed Fawzi to America's military readers for the first time and is exactly what is needed to illicit thoughtful examination of nonWestern viewpoints in order to cultivate the future generation of leaders. While this segment may not involve deliberate deception directly, it does explore General Fawzi 's mindset as he, and other senior Egyptian military leaders, dealt with the seemingly irrational decisions made by Field Marshal Abdel-Hakem Amer at a most critical point during the 1 967 Six-Day War. However, beyond the devastating operational impacts the decisions had on the battlefield for the Egyptians, these events add perspective to how and foreshadow why the deep friendship between the president and strongman Gamal Abdel-Nasser and Field Marshal Amer would lead others to betrayal, an attempted military coup, and ultimately, suicide. Infantry Magazine is to be commended for providing CDR Aboul-Enein a forum for his long-term project of bringing Arabic works of military significance to America's military readership. I look forward to the discussion this series will generate, and more importantly, the learning that will take place in America's military classrooms that choose to use this series to educate students on the Middle East generally and the Arab-Israeli Wars specifically.

- George Mitroka

Director of the Denial and Deception Advanced Studies Program, National Intelligence University

Egypt's defeat in the 1967 Six-Day War was characterized on the battlefield by an inundation of disorganization and a lack of communication between the leadership and units in the field. Adding to the confusion was Field Marshal Abdel-Hakem Amer's deteriorating mental state, which caused him to make questionable decisions, the most notable being the decision to rapidly withdraw from battle. The order to withdraw was given without clear parameters or instruction, causing scenes of chaos and uncertainty. However, what really stands out in reading General Mohamed Fawzi's memoirs is the clash of two different types of military doctrine.

From the Egyptian perspective, the armed forces was designed primarily to preserve the 1952 Revolution, which meant that it focused more on internal dissension within the ranks and less on projecting military power. Since President Gamal Abdel Nasser attained power through a bloodless military coup, the Revolutionary Command Council would obsess about threats coming from within the military. The Israelis did not worry about military coups, and could therefore focus more clearly on defending Israel and projecting Israeli military power.

General Fawzi's memoirs also reveal how a command structure collapses amidst an effective, modern, and rapid military onslaught. Readers of this segment will learn about Amer's reaction and the crumbling of the Sinai front through lack of initiative and the inability to improvise without approval from higher authority. General Fawzi would carefully study the Six-Day War and use it as means to reconstruct the Egyptian armed forces for the next phase of the Arab-Israeli conflict - the War of Attrition and the 1973 Yom-Kippur War. …

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