Soviet Military Involvement in Egypt
Spiral Activity Office :Rmenfigos
y Involvement in Egypt
i .nee the end' of world Warhere': have been two ?main threads to the Soviet interest in the Middle East. First* the Soviets have sought to undermine US and Western influence-in the area, exploiting differ encases between the Arab countries and'the US oyer US support
Second, the Soviets have sought to overcome the military superiority enjoyed by the-US- and NATO fleets in the Mediterranean. To this end, they haveishedowerful naval force, to aid in the. strategic defense of the USSR and to protect their in-Jr terests in the Middle East. They may hope eventually, ito:bar US forces from the area.
The Soviet arms supply to-'jthe Egyptians beganas part Of the Soviet
in the Middle East. The reluctance of Western powers to meet Egypt's requirements for military hardware, initially gave the Soviets an opportunity towedge between the two at little cost and with virtually no risk. Anti-Western sentiment-in the Arab lands, together with US public sympathy and private financial support for Israel, made the Soviet objective of dividing the US and the Arabs easier to realize. In all this, however, the Soviet gainsirect military benefit for the USSR. :
notf: S memorandum aae prepared by the Office of Strategic Heeeareh and coordinated uithin the Directorate of Intelligence.
_ Since7 war, this has chang ome of that war and US anas aid to Israel.placed the US and the USSR on opposite sides of theresult entirely consistent with Soviet aims and one which the Soviets use effectively in their propaganda with the (tlV; Arabs. The Soviet Mediterranean naval squadron has grown
the Soviets have established in Egypt first ever based outside the...
against the US
in the Mediterranean andignifi-
At the end, Israeli air strikes had Nasir's; government reeling. -The Egyptian air.defense systemhad collapsed, and the political structure was seriously strained. To save the situation,.the Soviets expanded the scale and scope of their, assistance, by rushingive quantities of advanced SAM equipment into Egypt accompanied by thousands of their own personnel toit. Moreover, the Soviets introduced their own fighter units to provide further protection. Theirmain aim was tolient regime in which theyarge investment of resources and prestige. But the. nature of the Soviet involvement in,-and commitmentgypt was transformed in the process.
esult, the motives for the USSR's presence! in Egypt areomplex mixture of. support to Egypt, protection of the Soviet investment and prestige, and
maintenancease of operations-directedfleets in the
uoviet" supply-'of rarmsrfor Egypt has passed xt^fe'^ through several distinct stages. Even before* thewar ended,oviets atterapted^'toireplace theneht-.lostyto the Israelis'^ThisJ.initial.ffort^f^ took less than six months to: replace.most% ofaircrafthereafter, the Sovietsore deliberate program of^ the Egyptian forces, apparently;:to;emhan
bill ties in anticipation "of renewed large-scale fightingv^8 the level of shipments was .lower than inast halfand the Egyptian. forceS/^werevbusily attempting to assimilate newly delivered equipment. ,
:< In9 President tfasirttrition against Israeli occupation of. the Sinai. y the middle of the year, artillery duelsntense and continuous To vcouriter: Egypuperiority -in artillery, the Israelis began in July to use their, air-force,in raids cn thefthe Sue2 Canal. in succeeding .months thegyptian casualties and equipment losses, exacted" 'Israeli aircraft mounted steadily. By the end of. the ^year,ir defenses bad been'n some areas. and were tate of" collapsed generally
he beginningawsraelis..launchheir "deep penetration*series of air attackSf; lasting from early. January_ through .March .and: conducted
;;ih, the vicinity of Egypt" s'; major populationlate January Nasir went to Moscow where heupon the Soviets, to' providaEg^Vwith an -air defense.. ,
ew weeks the Soviets had.begun to respond by shippingquipment to Egypt. By mid-March the firstnits were" cmplaced,nd
ready, and byummer about!iring units with antiaircraft artillery support were fully deployed.or Soviet use also were, sent tond.by April pilots of the newly formed Sovietquadrons were familiarizing-themselves with theby flying defensive patrols from three Egyptianields. Clearly the Soviets had decided to intervene directly to preserve Nasir's regime.and protectwn investment.-
n this the Soviets succeeded. The Israelis halted their deep penetration raids and confinedir activity to the area near the canal.'; The Soviets: and Egyptians, however, apparently determined to bar ' fejs the Israelis from all Egyptian air. space westiOfv'n the period from early May until September the ceasefire agreement becameugustSoviets steadily: moved -their improved SAM protective umbrella1closer. to the canal. Bad the. ceasefire not beenhere* iseason to suppose that the Soviets would haveeavy toll of Israeli' aircraft. As it was, six hantoms were lostumber of other, aircraft were damaged between early June and the ceasefire agreement. The Soviets and Israelis clashedn the air onlythe end of Julythat resulted in the loss of. four Sovietnd flosses forU^^
Although fighting ended with the August ceasefire, Soviet arms shipments continuedigh levelthe remainder0 and into Most of these arms probably were intended to replace losses suffered earlier that year. In this period, for ex- .'. ample, the Sovietset fighters to the Egyptian air force, just about enough to replace combat losses.
the Egyptians. triking example of the general0 Egyptian aircraft were lost in air-to-air combat between9 and the0 ceasefire for each one.lost by the Israelis.
Another area ot disparity? is domestic,arms_ pro--duction. Egypt has tried and failed to produce corn^ plicated weapons such as jet fighters and short-range ballistic missiles.Egypt's arms producti6hr> capacity, is limited to small arms, medium-rangemortars, and ammunition -up -to-alibers. all other weapons must be in-?;
Israel,s currently assembling Mirage aircraft from parts purchased in France, isocally-designed tank, hasuccessful antiship missile, and has thriving electronics and other technical industries. The Egyptians areby thearms production agreement concluded lateot so much because advanced
technology was involved, but because they do notthe capability to match Israel's armseven without US help. TheEgyptiansdeeply concerned about 'Israel**surface-to-surface missiles and
ackarge Industrial base' and: the technological backwardness of most of its populationood deal of the friction between Cairo and Mosoow. The Egyptians blame the Soviet equipment for all the difficulties they have with it rather than admit that perhaps they are incompetent in usingaintainingThe fact that the equipment oftenintensifies .the, friction.
These problems onlyoble" strains inherent, in any patron-client relationship. Thexans recognize the necessity for Soviet help. Soviet support for Egypt's plans to reconquer the Sinai has in fact bean less than total, which onlyhe Egyptians in their opinion that the. Sovietsheir control over the supply ofand spare parts as,hoke rein,.on the Egyptian armed forces.
Because the' Egyptian' leadership hasarlike stance, everyigh-level delegation between the USSR and Egypt includes an Egyptian plea for more arras or more advanced types. The Soviets ave difficulty in meeting these demands because. In fact, there is little in the Soviet arsenal thate appropriate to the type of conflict that exists< the Middlera^aEE
- The few types of major hardware items the Soviets have not yet introduced into Egypt are unsuitad to the current conflict (nuclear weapons or advanced ballistic missiles, for example) or are beyond the present capacity Of the Egyptian forces (supersonic bombers or the newest
The Soviets Bnild^for '
The relationship between the Soviets and'vtheV^'. gyptians is founded on Egypt's reliance on the USSR for military hardwarearge investment ofrestige in Egypt's position. It. is on this bails that' the Soviets haveilitary position forin Egypt and over the Mediterranean. To help maintain that position the USSR currently has0 combat personnel in Egypt.
The first group of Sovietediumo conduct reconnaissancehips .at sea was sent early8 from the USSR to Cairo West airfield. In the four years since, the naval aviation unit in Egypt has been expandedotal ofircraft assigned to asw, ^sSM ECM, and air-to-surface missile strike roles. Normally ffflsw about six of these aircraft are-in the USSR-for main--vrr^reserve which enables the Soviets to maintain a itant number of ASW and ASM aircraft on
^ " Prior toar, the Soviets had Sent to severalapable of. carrying theKennelmissile. Allwere destroyed'in the war. The Egyptiansthat an asm capability be restored, but
Soviets have not yet done so. The Soviets may ultirt ately acquiesce, or theyurther capability to take- ther^ .againsty- ^
In either case, the: Soviets.would be reluctant; oignificant military capability .of theirhey>ertainly .will seek; to maintaintheir recently establishedegardless 'of any other developments in their relationshipgypt. If the Soviets did agreetOrestpjreEgypt, they probably would maintain'some .control over use of the missiles to minimize the risknilateral Egyptian use of ASMs against the Israelis or evenaval forces, which would pose the danger of further'. raie^^Original document.