In war, you never get it all your own way. You win some, and you lose some. In the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon in 1982, de facto Syrian territory at the time, Israel won some — sweeping the Valley clean of Syria’s latest surface-to-air missiles and destroying 29 MiGs in a day — and they lost some, when an exposed tank battalion was nearly surrounded and defeated in detail at the battle of Sultan Yacoub.
The Israelis withdrew with most of their 50-plus casualties, of whom 20 were dead. The Syrians captured some broken-down and disabled Israeli tanks — American 1950s-vintage M48s with many Israeli upgrades, including reactive armor — and three survivors of one tank crew: Zechariah Baumel (also an American citizen), Zvi Feldman and Yehuda Katz. The Syrians marched the three captives off and they were never seen again. The most intact of the tanks was presented by Syrian king-in-all-but-name Hafez Assad to his patrons, the Soviet Union. After analysis by Soviet technical intellience officers, it wound up in the museum of the Russian armored forces at Kubinka near Moscow.
Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu recently asked for a favor from his fellow head of state, Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Would he consider returning the tank? Turns out, he would. He signed the order this weekend and Israeli and Russian officers are working together on the shipmen of the tank today. Netanyahu:
There has been nothing to remember the boys by and no grave to visit for 34 years now. The tank is the only evidence of the battle and now it is coming back to Israel thanks to President Putin’s response to my request.
It is probably the only tank in the history of the world to be shipped anywhere on humanitarian grounds.
One wonders what else the two presidents found to talk about, and whether there is a quid pro quo in the works for the return of the tank.
Kevin was a former Special Forces weapons man (MOS 18B, before the 18 series, 11B with Skill Qualification Indicator of S). His focus was on weapons: their history, effects and employment. He started WeaponsMan.com in 2011 and operated it until he passed away in 2017. His work is being preserved here at the request of his family.
15 thoughts on “Their Tank will be a Memorial”
VVP doing something on humanitarian grounds…most unlikely. Probably wanted to relate to a real warrior one to one, unlike your President or our Prime Minister.
Wouldn’t surprise me if Israel is looking to hedge bets…they’ve already been sold completely down the river by the American Lightbringer, vis-a-vis Iran. I suspect Mr. P. sees an opportunity to expand his footprint even further, in the Post Pax-Americana world.
Putin, whatever he may be, could probably relate to what Netanyehu was saying. Obama-not a chance in hell.
Don’t worry, if there’s a charge, Nut-n-honey will simply send the bill to the US Treasury like Israel does with all their bills.
Oh, there are strings attached with both parties involved. Just what the strings are will play out over the next few months and possibly years. Putey and Benji are two savvy street smart guys in world affairs.
Good pr for Russia, which is in short supply, plus brownie points with one of the few competently run middle eastern nations. Win win for Putin.
At the risk of gaining a couple of undeserved labels…
The story goes…
Immediately after 11SEP01, Putin called all his guys to the table and asked them what the Russian response should be.
All except one basically said ‘While the USA is not an enemy, they are a rival. Let them handle it.’
One of his guys said that the USA has plenty in common with Russia, and they face the same foe. He also asked the roles to be reversed theoretically, etc.
Putin sided with the 1. A lot of cooperation between the USA and Russia since then hasn’t been front-page news, nor news at all.
Of course all that stared to fade away shortly after 2008.
Playing International Chess (as opposed to checkers) and taking advantage of a period of astounding weakness and naivete in a geopolitical rival does not mean there is no room for a sense of personal honor.
Sure, former enemies may at best only ever be semi-friendly, ‘enemy of my enemy is my friendly rival’ types.
But let’s not forget that the current state of affairs results from a slew of ‘own goals’.
***It is probably the only tank in the history of the world to be shipped anywhere on humanitarian grounds.***
There’s a former US Marine M48A3 in Vietnam in which the driver was killed by a B-40 [RPG-2] rocket hit on the front armor slope, and whose Diesel fuel and hydraulic fluid-soaked fatigues caught fire and burned; his remains were of course *non-viewable.* The vehicle still exists and is in a Vietnamese storage area for deadlined vehicles, and a US museum has been quietly negotiating about the possibility of having the vehicle returned to the USA as a memorial; Marines, it seems, still take care of their own.
Under the present administration, nothing more has been accomplished, though previously things had progressed reasonably well. Perhaps the situation will improve in around eight months or so.
Funny because the Lightworker just announced that our allies the DRV can now buy US weapons. Their captured supply finally running out!
They still have the airfield my dad’s Seabee battalion built.
Who, the Russians, or the Israelis?
The Vietnamese. Though as I understood it immediately post-war it was employed by their Air Force and probably hosted a few comrades. As I understand it now it’s trying to be made into a regional airport and industrial park without much success.
The US has built a lot of runways in out of the way places, especially in dub-dub-two. A few that stick in my mind are Zanderij in Suriname, Thule (aka Bluie West 8) in Greenland, Presque Isle in Maine and Shindand in Afghanistan.
Funny because the Lightworker just announced that our allies the DRV can now buy US weapons.
Obama’s special Memorial Day sale. Offer valid only until Inauguration Day , Friday, 20 January 2017.
The compromise of the then-new IMI M111 105mm tank round (built under licence by Germany & the US, arming Bundeswehr Leopard 1 & US M60/M1) was a disasterous technical compromise.
See Armo(u)r for more on the Soviet testing & subsequent up-armouring program: https://tankandafvnews.com/2015/07/19/from-the-vault-the-secret-testing-of-israeli-m111-hetz-ammunition/