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FAB: Golan '73» Forums » Rules

Subject: Israeli Units and the Anti Tank ditch rss

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Robert Crawford
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Do the Israeli units have to use the Syrian bridges to cross the ditch? Can Syrian Engineers blow the anti tank bridges or do they just pick them up? Can't find any rules regarding Israeli units crossing the ditch.
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Sam Carroll
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It probably happens so rarely that they didn't bother to give details! (Remember that Israeli units may only cross the Purple Line if unopposed.)

I see no reason to suppose that Syrian engineers and combat units can't blow those bridges; likewise I'm sure Israeli engineers can construct them. Note that the last sentence of 14.51a restricts the number of bridges the Syrians can build. This should not be taken as an indication that Israeli units cannot build them, as the first sentence of this paragraph uses the verbiage "each engineering asset may be used . . ." and the rest of this paragraph also seems to indicate that either side may be doing such construction. In short, the Syrians suffer from a restriction on how many anti-tank-ditch bridges they can build; the Israelis have no such restriction, though I haven't yet seen them need to build even one.
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Adam Parker
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I searched for this one like Sam and you too early on and I came up with the following:

1. Israelis can use the Syrian AT bridges as nothing in the rules prohibits this.

2. The rules for blowing AT Bridges are indirectly found in 14.5 ("only river boundaries") i.e. they can't be blown. Historically, many of these AT Bridges were really achieved filling in the crossing sites with dirt and crossing sites need not have a road. To me, this makes them permanent—and if the Syrians ever have available engineering assets to throw against a bridge I'd be suggesting they'd put them into battle instead! An Israeli unit can still cross the ditch at any eligible unbridgeable location at its full movement cost 14.12 and see 14.43.

3. Can Israelis build their own AT Bridges? As the AT Bridge markers relate to the Syrians and the rules are silent otherwise, I'd also say no. Again those assets, if drawn, would better be used in combat late in the game. Bridges for rivers require roads. Bridges for AT sites can be any ditch location. Historically, Syrian infantry did a lot of the filling and the Israelis ran a very infantry-light OOB.

The official answer could prove me wrong!
 
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Robert Crawford
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If I remember correctly (and that in no way is a sure thing), Soviet T-62 tanks were narrower than the Israeli tanks, so I suspect that the Israeli armor couldn't use the bridges anyway. In my readings on the Yom Kippur War I can't recall that the Israeli's had any problems crossing the ditch. If not under fire, it's nothing a bulldozer or two couldn't handle. Still, not clear in the rules.
 
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Sam Carroll
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Adam raises some interesting points, but let's also look at the possible situations where this could come into play, assuming that both sides have the capability to build and destroy ATD bridges:

When would the Syrians want to blow a bridge?

0) Crossing an unbridged anti-tank ditch has effects on combat and movement. However, there won't be any combat, as in order for the Israelis to enter, the area must be vacant, so the movement restrictions are the only thing we're concerned with.

1) There would never be a need for a Syrian combat unit to blow an ATD bridge, as Israelis can only cross into an undefended territory, which means that there couldn't be a combat unit there.

2) Likewise, instead of using an engineer to blow their bridge, the Syrians could put down the engineer as a defended roadblock east of the Purple Line, thereby entirely preventing the Israelis from entering.

So I'm not sure that it would ever be in the Syrian interest to blow an ATD bridge.

When would the Israelis want to construct a bridge?


0) Since the anti-tank ditch has no supply effects, and combat effects are irrelevant here, movement effects are all we're concerned with. And they would need to hold both sides of the ditch already. So there are only two situations where I can see this being helpful:

1a) If the the area east of the line is uncontested, then units that are currently west of the ditch would be able to advance into Syria and move into further areas. Given that there must be at least one unit east of the line already, that unit could likely take enough areas for a sudden-death victory anyway.

1b) If the area east of the line is contested (meaning the Israelis took it on a previous turn, then the Syrians counterattacked), then a unit west of the line (but not adjacent to this area) could get to the contested area in an attempt to clear it or defend it. I suppose that if they clear it, they could then use a special action to advance into another area to get enough VPs for the win - or maybe have a unit in reserve behind the Line to do the same.

Note, however, that by crossing the Purple Line, the Israelis would already have released all or almost all of the remaining Syrian reserves.

In short, it's hard for me to imagine a scenario where this rule would matter much - only case 1b seems like a possibility to me.
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Robert Crawford
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The anti-tank ditch does have supply effects. Units tracing a supply line across an unbridged ditch boundary must be adjacent to the boundary to be in supply (14.93). And, to move across an unbridged boundary costs the unit it's entire movement allowance. To me, those are two important reasons for clarifying the IDF's ability to use the Syrian AT ditch bridges. For example, the Syrian left flank is blown open at El Al and there are two Israeli reserve units ready to make an operational move during the Breakthrough Movement Phase. I would like t move them across the AT Ditch bridge at Juhader, on the Tap Road. There are no Syrian units to interfere. If I can use the bridge, my units can keep moving and occupy two areas in Syria, possible winning the game. If I can not use the bridge, I would have to stop in Juhader and move one area to Dhake on the next Israeli movement phase. By that time I suspect Dhake will be defended, blocking the movement (14.43).

I think it does make a difference how the rules cover Israeli use of the bridges, and crossing the AT ditch in general.

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Adam Parker
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Hi Robert, 14.12 only states that once an AT Bridge is built, the connection becomes road or field depending on the boundary used.

As it doesn't say Syrian Only, both sides would then be able to cross using them.

And I'd change my answer above to say that the Israelis can build AT Bridges too in the Admin Phase out of the limited countermix, as that rule doesn't say Syrian Only either.
 
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Sam Carroll
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rcrawford wrote:
The anti-tank ditch does have supply effects. Units tracing a supply line across an unbridged ditch boundary must be adjacent to the boundary to be in supply (14.93).


I was looking for a supply rule, as I thought there ought to be one. But the section under "anti-tank ditch" says "see these other references for additional effects," but doesn't list 14.93! Thanks for the correction. That changes things significantly!
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