142. Memorandum From Robert N. Ginsburgh of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow)1
Washington, June 3, 1967.
- Who Would Win a War? Israel or the UAR
- The attached document2—prepared a week ago—is the best I have seen on comparing the military capabilities of Israel and the UAR. I suggest you read all of it.
- It concludes:
- —Israel could get air supremacy over the Sinai in one to three days—depending on who struck first.
- —Israel would lose a third to half of its air force. (This estimate may be high; one-fourth to one-third losses might be closer to the mark.)
- —Israel would drive the Egyptians west of the Suez Canal in seven to nine days.
- —Israel could contain any attacks by Syria or Jordan during this period.
- Since this was written, the UAR
has gained a number of military benefits:
- —The UAR has consolidated positions in Sinai.
- —The UAR has manned the Straits of Aqaba.
- —The UAR has mined certain areas.
- —Arab command, control, and planning has probably improved.
- —The threat to Israel posed by Jordan has increased.
- —UAR logistics in the Sinai have probably improved.
- By a delay of one week—28 May to 4 June—the Arabs have made a net
military gain if war should now occur. The ultimate
outcome—according to “my experts”—would be unchanged. Israel would
still win, but
- —It might take 8–10 days to drive to the Suez.
- —Israel might suffer 5–10% more casualties.
If war outbreak were delayed one more week—to 11 June, the Israeli military position would probably deteriorate further—but at a slower rate. “My experts” judge that:
Israel would still win, but
- —It might take as much as 9 days to two weeks.
- —Israelis might suffer an additiona casualties.
- After 11 June, the military balance would not change until the economic effects of mobilization began to affect military posture.
- Some of my experts think that the above underrates Israel. I suspect that if I were a responsible Israeli commander, I might be less sanguine even though I had no doubt about the ultimate military outcome. The only other nagging doubt is that sometimes in the past professional military opinion has been awfully wrong, but I can find no objective basis to challenge the present estimate.
- Thus, I conclude that Israeli concern about delaying a war which they fear is inevitable is based primarily on their concern about a deterioration in their political and diplomatic position rather than on military factors.
- Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Middle East Crisis, Situation Reports. Top Secret; [codeword not declassified].↩
- The attachment is apparently a draft of Document 76.↩