E4

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E4 - YOM KIPPUR SOUTH

Nixon thought acting like he was crazy would scare Brezhnev into standing down, and Brezhnev thought the same thing, and this is what happened.

As the 1973 Yom Kippur war raged on, President Nixon ordered an airlift of military supplies to allow Israel to keep fighting. The Soviets supplied their Arab client states continuously throughout the war.

In the Sinai, Israel lost two hundred tanks right away, but a pair of extra tank divisions were rushed forward to halt the Egyptian advance. Eighty percent of Israel's entire inventory of armor that was still operational was sent into the battle, but Egyptian troops using Soviet-supplied anti-tank weaponry held the Israelis to a line five miles east of the Suez Canal. Meanwhile more Egyptian tanks and infantry massing on their side of the canal were protected from Israeli air attack by a tough shield of anti-aircraft missiles guided by radar, again courtesy of the Soviet Union.

On October 13 the Egyptians tried to break through two mountain passes in the Sinai. What followed was the largest tank battle on Earth since the 1943 battle of Kursk between Germany and Russia and the second largest tank battle anywhere, ever, involving nearly two thousand tanks. During the battle a total of 264 Egyptian tanks were knocked out, to Israel's ten. On the 14th another Egyptian attack on the Suez Canal was stopped with the destruction of 200 tanks and a thousand Egyptian soldiers killed.

The following day a third battle was fought at the meeting point between the Egyptian Second and Third Armies that served as an administration area for both armies and headquarters for the 16th Infantry Division. Tanks fired at practically point blank range. Egypt lost 150 tanks to Israel's eighty. Overnight an IDF parachute brigade established a toehold on the other side of the Canal. Two forward-deployed Egyptian anti-aircraft missile bases were taken out, allowing Israel to establish air superiority over the western bank of the Suez Canal.

A veritable conveyor belt of Soviet war supplies moved by air to Egypt and Syria, while the Americans supplied Israel from their own endless abundance. But when the Soviet Union saw the Arabs checked in the Golan and now in the Suez, and Nixon refused to pressure Israel to allow the trapped Third Army to escape, Leonid Brezhnev began airlifting Soviet troops to Cairo to supplement the Egyptians.

Passing through the Dardenelles, Soviet naval forces in the Mediterranean reached 97 ships, including 23 submarines, while the US added a third carrier battle group from Spain for a total of 60 ships. Nixon took the US to DEFCON 3 and sent the 101st Airborne into the Sinai to counterbalance the Soviet troops, but events were moving fast and there was insufficient time to match the Soviets troop-for-troop. Nixon told Brezhnev that sending any more troop transport planes would be crossing a red line, but Brezhnev called his bluff.

Fighters from the USS Independence' shot down the next cargo plane hauling Soviet troops. Brezhnev replied with a nuclear-tipped torpedo round fired at the Independence. The United States didn't even know the Soviets had nuclear torpedoes. It didn't have to be close, it took out the carrier, several support ships steaming alongside, and even damaged the submarine that fired it. The Cold War had just gone hot.

Nixon ordered weapons red and free on all Soviet forces in the Mediterranean, and the two sides slugged it out. Both remaining US carriers were taken out, but the Soviet naval forces definitely came off much the worse. But this hardly mattered, an exchange of ICBMs took out both the American and Soviet capital cities, killing ten million people instantly and many more after the fact. Then the two superpowers went back into their own corners to assess what was happening and see if the other side would escalate. A few more items on each side's laundry list were nuked, such as Hanford in the US, and the Sevastopol navy base, but Brezhnev and Nixon were both dead, and cooler heads didn't think losing more millions of lives would be worth what either side had gained by the war, which was precisely nothing.

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