By Sarah Saad
Maj. Gen. Samir Farag, a veteran of the 1973 October war, still remembers this consequential event in Egypt’s history very vividly.
He said to The Egyptian Gazette he was lucky to work in the War Room during the war in his capacity as an army officer at the time.
He joined the room only a week before the war began.
Farag was a valedictorian of the War College. When he joined the October War Room, he was the youngest officer in the room.
The War Room, he said, acquainted him with every part of Egypt, especially during the October war.
“It also gave me access into the strategic decision-making process in our country,” Gen. Farag told The Egyptian Gazette.
“It showed me how assessments of the situation were made,” he added.
Gen. Farag felt special triumph when, during the build-up for the Sinai liberation offensive in 1973, the commander of the Israeli air force ordered his pilots to be keen to stay 15 kilometres at least away from the Suez Canal.
“This gave me indications that the Egyptian army would win the war,” Gen. Farag said.
He cited military academies around the world in considering the October 1973 war as the last conventional war between two armies.
“Despite differences in military doctrines, the advanced nature of the equipment the Israeli army possessed and Israeli superiority in those areas, Egypt was able to introduce new military concepts and combat methods during the war,” Gen. Farag said.
“These concepts and methods are now taught in the most prestigious military academies and colleges around the world,” he added.
He compared the October war to the current war between Russia and Ukraine.
The Russian-Ukrainian war, he said, introduced one new method only, namely the use of ballistic missiles in making initial strikes in the war, instead of traditional airstrikes.
“In the October 1973 war and the war of attrition that preceded it, Egypt pioneered many new concepts in armaments, including the use of the navy,” Gen. Farag said.
He referred to Egypt’s drowning of the Israeli destroyer, Eilat, off the coast of Port Said, an operation that led to a decline in the construction of destroyers and battleships in favour of frigates, which are smaller, more heavily armed, and more technologically advanced.
“Egypt also introduced the concept of maritime blockade from a distance, as a new method in naval warfare,” Gen. Farag said.
He added that Egypt succeeded in closing the Bab el-Mandeb Strait in the face of Israeli navigation, making it impossible for the Israeli army to intervene against the Egyptian forces that implemented the blockade.
Egypt, he added, also introduced the concept of neutralizing enemy air forces, using the Egyptian wall of missiles, against the Israeli air force’s superiority in terms of quantity and quality.
He noted that armies staging wars after this adopted the same method in preventing superior enemy air force from intervening in specific areas.
The Egyptian forces, he said, also introduced the concept of fighting infantry units independently, without tanks, unlike what was allowed in the past.
The use of infantry forces with appropriate numbers of anti-tank weapons, such as RPGs or anti-tank missiles, is one of the military concepts that Egypt introduced, he added.
Gen. Farag pointed to the lessons learned from the October 1973 war, including adaptation to modern weaponry, training in their use at an incredible speed, and developing their use.
He added that the Egyptian people played a vital role in the war.
“They bore the brunt of economic hardships connected with the war,” Gen. Farag said.
“They also faced the burden of displacement from the Suez Canal cities with all courage,” he added.
Gen. Farag said the October war victories changed the world’s military doctrines and invited the world’s attention to the importance of respecting Egyptians’ mentality.
“The Egyptian army will continue to achieve victories by protecting Egypt’s borders, especially in the light of regional and global crises,” Gen. Farag said.
“They will protect Egyptian investments and economic interests,” he added.