427. Memorandum From the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Secretary of Defense McNamara1

JCSM 474–67


  • Analysis of Israel’s Military Capability (U)
(S) Reference is made to a memorandum by the Deputy Secretary of Defense, dated 29 July 1967, subject as above,2 which requested the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the following two points:
Whether Israel can defend itself in the near future against both the conventional and guerrilla threats it faces with its present military equipment; and
If additional equipment is necessary, the types and amounts of such further equipment.
(S) By JCSM–55–67, dated 2 February 1967, subject: “Military Equipment for Israel (U),”3 the Joint Chiefs of Staff reported their assessment that Israeli military forces were capable of defending themselves against any individual or collective Arab attack. As reported in SNIEs 11–13–674 and 30–3–67,5 the Arabs suffered heavy losses in personnel [Page 805] and equipment during the recent Arab-Israeli conflict. The Soviets have already replaced much of the equipment and may replace most of the equipment losses within the next year. The Arab capability for reorganization and training of personnel is difficult to predict, but a minimum of 18 months probably would be required to restore the defeated Arab ground forces to a fighting force capable of conducting a campaign against Israel.
(S) The possibility exists that the United Arab Republic and/or Syria, with support from Iraq and Algeria, might launch a surprise air or ground attack on Israel. However, it is doubtful that a preemptive air strike by Arab forces would be successful. The Israelis have an excellent intelligence organization and would be likely to detect Arab plans for preemption and strike first or at least retaliate quickly and effectively. Additionally, Israeli aircraft are well camouflaged and dispersed in revetments.
(S) Though there have been public statements by Arab leaders suggesting guerrilla-type actions against Israel, it is doubted that the Arabs are capable of planning, organizing, and executing an effective guerrilla campaign against Israel. The present lines dividing the Arab countries from Israel are much easier to defend than the prehostility boundaries, and Israel is fully capable of countering and coping with any guerrilla effort which might be mounted by the Arabs.
(S) In consideration of the foregoing, the Joint Chiefs of Staff conclude that Israel has the military capability to defend itself in the near future against both conventional and guerrilla threats with its present military equipment and that additional equipment is not needed for this purpose.
(U) Additional information on current Arab-Israeli capabilities and pre/posthostilities personnel and equipment inventories is contained in Appendices A and B hereto.6
For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
Harold K. Johnson
Acting Chairman
Joint Chiefs of Staff
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330 72 A 2468, Israel, 400. Secret.
  2. See footnote 3, Document 387.
  3. For text, see Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. XVIII, Document 387.
  4. See footnote 4, Document 414.
  5. Document 414.
  6. Appendix A, “Discussion,” and Appendix B, “Selected Armaments and Forces, Middle East Countries,” both undated, are attached but not printed.