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Saad Mohamed el-Husseiny el-Shazly  was an Egyptian military personality. He was Egypt's chief of staff during the October War. Following his public criticism of the Camp David Accords, he was dismissed from his post as Ambassador to Portugal and sent into exile in Algeria.

He is the untold hero on the Egyptian side of the 1973 October War, also known as the Yom Kippur War, being the mastermind of the successful Egyptian attack on Israeli Bar-Lev line of defence.

El Shazly was born in the city of Basyoun in the Al Gharbiya Governorate, to a landed familyfrom Shobratana in the Nile delta. His grandfather fought in the Khedive Ismail Pasha's campaign in Sudan, where he died. His uncle, a Pasha, a Member of Parliament and Governor of Behera, was an outspoken critic of the King's policies. Members of the family participated in the Egyptian Revolution of 1919.

Lt. Gen. Saad El Shazly was responsible for planning and implementing Operation Badr

El Shazly joined the Military Academy and was commissioned. He first gained his reputation as an outstanding soldier in 1941. During the Western Desert Campaign, British forces together with Egyptian forces were facing the Germans. When the British/Egyptian High Command issued the order to retreat, the young lieutenant Shazly stayed behind to destroy equipment in the face of an advancing German army. Until 1948 he served in the King's Guard, and participated in the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.

El Shazly founded the paratroopers in Egypt in 1954 and was commander of the first paratrooper battalion in the Egyptian army. In 1960 he headed the first United Arab Forces in the Republic of the Congo (Leopoldville) as part of the United Nations forces. He was Defence Attaché in London 1961-1963; Commander of Special Forces 1967-1969; Commander of the Red Sea District 1970-1971; and on May 16, 1971 he was appointed Chief of Staff of the Egyptian Armed Forces, a post he held until December 13, 1973.

El Shazly distinguished himself in 1967 when he headed the Shazly Group; a special forces task force tasked with guarding the middle part of the Sinai. On the night of June 5, with communication cut between himself and the Egyptian High Command, he decided to manoeuvre his forces, positioned twenty kilometres from the Israeli border, across the border and into Israel itself. Shazly positioned his forces five kilometres east of the border in the Negev desert[citation needed], in an area surrounded by mountains that provided his small force of 1,500 men and one battalion of 30 tanks protection from the Israeli Air Force, which had full air superiority. Between 6 and 7 June minor skirmishes had ensued between Shazly's troops and Israeli forces at long ranges. So far, he had suffered negligible casualties. Shazly managed to establish communications with general headquarters in Cairo on the afternoon of June 7 (the Sinai command had been withdrawn), and he received the order to withdraw. It was only then that he became aware that nearly all friendly forces had withdrawn from the Sinai. Aware of Israeli air superiority, Shazly began moving his force at sunset. That night there was a full moon, and this facilitated the withdrawal, since the group's vehicles would not use their headlights to prevent discovery by Israeli forces. The task force moved over 100 kilometres westwards through the night. At dawn however on June 8, Israeli aircraft conducted an air strike against the group, mainly targeting tanks and vehicles. It was in this sir strike that Shazly's forces suffered almost all of their casualties; there were no anti-aircraft weapons with which the troops could defend themselves save for a number of light machine guns. The group managed to enter the Sinai Khatmiya Pass, after which Israeli air attacks ceased. Along its march to Ismailia, the group came across burnt out vehicles and tanks that had been hit by the Israeli Air Force along the roads along which Egyptian forces had retreated. The group managed however to pick up a number of soldiers, along the way, some of whom were wounded. Before sunset on June 8, Shazly's forces crossed the Suez Canal at Ismailia, being the last Egyptian military unit to do so. Overall the unit had suffered losses at a casualty rate of around 15%, although this was because other sub-units had suffered much higher losses, in particular the tank battalion, which had lost 80% of its tanks. The vast majority of these losses were due to Israeli air strikes on June 8. He remained with his unit on the west bank of the canal until June 11, with the task of defending against an Israeli crossing in his sector.[3]

On June 12, Shazly was appointed to a posistion under whom Egypt's special forces (Al-Sa'iqa, literally lightening) and paratroopers would be under a unified command (previously both had been under separate commands). This mixed force of special forces and paratroopers would carry much of the burden of the War of Attrition, conducting around 80% of the raids, ambushes and sabotage missions carried out by the Egyptian Army across the Suez Canal in the Sinai. It was a company of commandos (numbering 30) that defended Port Fouad against Israeli forces in the aftermath of the Six Day War. In consequence, Port Fouad and its vicinity remained the only part of the Sinai to remain in Egyptian hands.

Shazly then assumed command of the Red Sea sector from 1970 to 1971, following Operation Rooster 53. The Red Sea sector was almost 200,000 square kilometres (one fifth of Egypt's total size). Shazly was confronted with the task of defending against enemy airborne commando operations, which were conducted at night, but he had at hand less than 20,000 troops to guard the entire Red Sea sector. Rather than spread them throughout the sector, making them vulnerable to the enemy, he opted to concentrate them in specific locations; Safaga, Hurghada, Ras Ghareb, Al-Quseir and Za'farana. The areas around them and between these concentration areas; devoid of military targets of any significance, were left open for the enemy. Shazly also created observation posts on the coasts, manned by five lightly armed soldiers with the task of reporting enemy air activity. Two hours before sunset, these observation teams would abandon their posts and move to another location to avoid enemy attacks, then return in the morning.

As the Egyptian Army's Chief of Staff in the run up to the October War he was responsible for the successful breaching of Bar Lev Line and the crossing of the Suez Canal. His plan was based on preventing the IDF from using its air force in any confrontation with his ground forces due to the superiority of that IDF air force compared to the Egyptian at that time, which was proved in all previous wars, so his plan was to maintain his forces within the Egyptian air defensive umbrella which covered approximately 10 miles to the right of the Suez canal. That plan was executed more than successfully with losses on the Egyptian side far less than he expected and the Egyptian ground forces captured the 10 miles as planned.

During the early days of the war, the Syrian side was under heavy pressure from the IDF, so president Hafez Al-Asad made an explicit request to Anwar Sadat to advance the Egyptian forces deep into Sinai as an attempt to release the pressure on the Syrian side. Shazly said it was a wrong decision as it would not release the pressure on the Syrian side and would subject the Egyptian forces to danger. Sadat did not listen to him and secretly dismissed him, the advance resulted in the loss of some 250 Egyptian tanks without any progress on the Syrian side.
Planning Operation Badr. Left to right in center: Chief of Operations El Gamasy, Saad El Shazly, Anwar Sadat, Minister of War Ahmed Ismail, who replaced Sadek in late 1972.

On October 19, 1973, After the IDF crossed the Suez Canal into Egypt, Sadat sent Shazly to the front to assess the situation. Sadat, in his autobiography, claimed that when he visited the Command Headquarters with General Ismail, he found Shazly collapsed.[5] Sadat used the words, "nervous wreck".[6] Shazly said that the disaster had struck and that Egypt have to withdraw from Sinai. Sadat immediately relieved Shazli and appointed El Gamasy for fear of panic among the high command (Dismissal was not made public).[7][8][9][10] Saad El Shazly has denied Sadat's claims however, stating that he never suggested a withdrawal of all forces from the Sinai, but only suggested the withdrawal of four armored brigades.[11] Another source also mentions that Shazly only suggested the withdrawal of four armored brigades, and makes no mention that he was removed from his position as Chief of Staff. Abdel Ghani El Gamasy, whom Sadat claims was appointed Chief of Staff, seconds Shazly's account that he only proposed the withdrawal of four brigades, and he denies Sadat's claim that Shazly was a nervous wreck. El Gamasy also makes no mention that he was appointed Chief of Staff, or that Shazly was removed from his position.[13] It is worth noting that Sadat reported the entire incident only after Shazly became his political opponent.[

As the Ambassador to England.

In 1973, at the pinnacle of his military career, General Shazly was removed from military service by President Anwar Sadat and appointed Ambassador to Britain and later Ambassador to Portugal.

In 1978 General Shazly sharply criticized the Camp David agreement and publicly opposed it. As a result, he was dismissed from his post and forced into exile. There he wrote this book, his account of the war, for which he was tried by a military tribunal in absentia and without legal representation. He was sentenced to three years in prison. The charges were, writing this book without first getting permission from the Egyptian Ministry of Defence, a charge he admitted to in the press. A second charge of allegedly revealing military secrets in his book, he vehemently denies.

In 1992 he returned to Egypt where he was arrested and served out his prison sentence.

El Shazly died on 10 February 2011 at the age of 88.


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