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Mukhabarat el-Khabeya
(Military Intelligence Service)
Egyptian Military Intelligence (DMI)

The Office of Military Intelligence Services and Reconnaissance (Idarat al-Mukhabarat al-Harbyya wa al-Istitla) is part of the Ministry of Defense. In Egypt, key information is compartmented, and failures are not brought to the attention of senior officials. Often, information is not shared because commanders and units do not trust each other. The Egyptian security forces have institutionalized some practices that U.S. trainers see as disastrous, in part because changing them would require an embarrassing admission of failure. is assumed that senior military and intelligence leaders will have a "take" from many contracts: an assumption that is duplicated in lesser ways down the chain of command.

Egyptian military intelligence had a separate, and large, internal security force to preserve the loyalty of the armed forces. But the jihadist cell that murdered Sadat had its roots within the military. The Egyptian government (intelligence, presidential guard, and interior ministry) had no knowledge of cell formation in Northern and Southern Egypt. Beginning in early 1980, mass disruption and chaos fomented under the cover of which it could assassinate Sadat. The cell had weapons cachesthroughout Egypt and had established revolutionary cells in most districts of the country. It is incredible that Egyptian security missed detecting such a massive undertaking.

Key to any operational level planning is accurate knowledge of the situation--a good net assessment. This includes an accurate analysis of enemy and own force critical factors -- critical strengths and weaknesses. From this analysis, the center of gravity can be determined and critical vulnerabilities and strengths can be identified and exploited. At the time of the 1967 War, it was in the net assessment arena, where the Israelis excelled and the Egyptians fell short. The Israelis had always demanded and practiced truthful reporting. As opposed to Egyptian intelligence, Israeli intelligence was abundant and more importantly it was "intellectually honest".

The Egyptians, on the other hand, were not predisposed toward intellectual honesty and suffered accordingly. As one Israeli commander stated: "[The Arabs] had a tendency to believe their own propaganda". Nasser's judgement was distorted by the enormous failure of a "sycophantic" intelligence service. Because of this environment, Nasser failed or refused to recognize several Israeli critical factors. As a result, Nasser over-estimated Egyptian capabilities and underestimated the Israelis'. The value of "intellectually honest" intelligence cannot be overemphasized. Israeli success illustrated the value of reliable intelligence to the operational commander during the six Day War.

As Kenneth Pollack contends, "There was a colossal failure on the part of Cairo's intelligence services to provide the Egyptian military with the information required to fight Israel." He notes that Egyptian intelligence:

  • was biased to the political climate and, therefore, did not provide clear and decisive analysis on whether Israel was going to attack;
  • issued reports to commanders that changed daily and were often contradictory;
  • provided no credible intelligence on Israel's order of battle, effectiveness, doctrine, or planned strategy;
  • had no intelligence on where Israeli forces were and, to the extent that it had information, fell victim to Israel's denial and deception campaign; and
  • did not understand the concept of flexibility stressed by the Israeli military in conducting joint and independent operations.
Egyptian intelligence capability in 1967 was nearly non-existent. Quite literally, Israeli intelligence had a clearer picture of the Egyptian order of battle and capabilities than did Egypt's own commanders. That Nasser would play brinkmanship with such a deficiency equated to diplomatic negligence. The most serious miscalculation was the underestimation of the IAF. This single mistake cost the army their air cover, and with it, the freedom of action they expected to have. In short, Nasser failed to recognize that his own center of gravity was his air force; this cost him the war.

The 1973 Yom Kippur War rankshigh in the annals of intelligence failures. Although the Israelis scored atactical victory against the Syriansand the Egyptians, the victory cameat a high cost in men and materiel. The Egyptians took great pains tostudy Israeli doctrine. Soon after the 1967 Six-Day War, they began to re-structure their offensive and defensive techniques. The Egyptian deception plan had o three components: economic, political, and military. In November 1972, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat made the official decision to go to war. The concept of surprise occupieda large portion of the Egyptian general command's planning. The seeds of Israeli intelligence failure were sown in the tactical success of the Six-Day War. Israeli defense forces' mobilization plans were based on having 48-hour warning, not the 10 hours that occurred during this war.

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Page last modified: 28-07-2011 00:52:37 ZULU