The first few days of the Yom Kippur War were confusing and frightening.
We heard that things were going badly for Israel on both fronts. Later, after the war, we learned that Moshe Dayan told Prime Minister Golda Meir that the Third Commonwealth was about to fall.
Turning the tide of war called for operational genius.
Ariel Sharon had that genius, and a plan. There was a narrow gap in the Egyptian line. Sharon believed he could cross the Suez, and exploit that seam. Sharon’s superiors had little faith in Sharon’s plan. They ordered Sharon to stop sending forces across the canal. Instead, they wanted him to widen the gap on the Israeli side of the Suez.
Sharon read the battlefield differently. He knew that only decisive, offensive action could rescue the Jewish state. His plan, grandiose and brilliant, was to cross the canal, encircle the Egyptian Third Army, and threaten that army with complete annihilation.
Sharon’s military superiors believed the Egyptians would sniff out the plan, close the gap, and destroy Sharon’s small, vulnerable force.
Sharon disobeyed orders. He claimed there were communication problems. Perhaps the oldest, most reliable fiction soldiers use to neutralize their commanders.
Sharon knew from years of fighting Arab armies that attacking from the rear, destroying the missiles that wreaked havoc on the Israeli Air Force, ambushing reinforcements, destroying supply depots, and sowing chaos across the entire front, would cause the Egyptian army to collapse. Arab armies are notoriously unimaginative when face with a nimble, improvisational enemy. They have a tendency to fall back into a defensive, suicidal posture.
And this is exactly what happened.
Of course, Sharon’s superiors were furious with him. But deep down, they knew that the man who had defied them, had saved the Jewish State.