Black September - the biggest tank battle you have never heard of .

20-21/9/70

In September 1970 the Jordanian King decided to crackdown on the PLO elements in the country. The army initiated an attack on Palestinian refugee camps around the country confident of victory. Over-confident as it turned out. The PLO was well armed and intransigent. Although the Jordanians were winning, it was slow progress and came at a heavy price. To the north elements of the Syrian government were looking south and saw the opportunity for regime change, substituting an unfriendly monarchy for a more friendly Palestinian state. The scene was set for a Syrian invasion of Jordan.

The first couple of days of the intervention were fairly tentative. The Syrian sponsored Palestinian Liberation Army (PLA) crossed the border to support the Fayedeen in Irbid. it was not until the 20th that the major offensive took place, with the Syrian 5th Infantry Division pushing south towards the Jordanian capital.

1960's Soviet Map of the Battlefield. Irbid is the town in the top left of the map.

Map and Order of Battle

Jordanian Deployment

The Jordanians move and deploy second

The battalions of the 25th Infantry Brigade are deployed on the high ground to the south and east of Kitim

The battalions of the 1st Infantry Brigade are deployed within 9" of Kitim but not within 6" of any BUA other than Kitim

The 2nd and 4th RTR are deployed within 9" of point Y (where the road crosses the ridge), but not within 9" of a Syrian unit

The 1st Mechanised Battalion arrives during the night interval, anywhere on the heights not within 12" of a Syrian unit

The 6th RTR arrives turn 1 of the second day along road E

Syrian and Palestinian Deployment

The Syrians and Palestinians move and deploy first

The 88th Brigade starts the game deployed anywhere within the area ABCZ.

The battalions of the 28th Brigade enter the table one each on turns 1, 2 and 3, down road B

The battalions of the 132nd Brigade enter the table two each on turns 4 to 6, down road B. The order of the battalions is up to the Syrian player

The Nittin Brigade starts within 9" of Irbid.

The 5th Divisional Artillery starts off table and may fire from turn 1. It may be brought on table anywhere between points A & B if it misses on turns firing (it must not be called on the turn it does not fire)

The Fedayeen are deployed in grey BUAs, one company in each. Al-Husun, As-Sarih, Huwwarah and Al-Husn/Azmi Al-Mofti are the towns that may be occupied. Only one company may be deployed in each town.

Terrain

The table is 6ft x 4ft if playing 6" = 1km

The brown area are heights. They count as level 2. In order to see over the lower level terrian the spotting stand must be within 3" of the edge.

The green areas are scrubby pines

The brown squares are scattered BUA

The grey squares are town centre BUA

The thick brown dashed lines are level 2 ridgelines

The thin brown dashed lines are level 1 ridgelines

The red lines are roads

Terrain

Movement

Cover ‡

ZOC

Fire Power

Leg/non-motorised

Wheels/ motorised

Tracked/ mechanised

Inf & Cav

Towed Guns

Vehicle

Inf & Cav

Towed Guns & Vehicles

IDF

BUA Scattered

-

-

-

1L

1L

1L

Cluttered

-

-

-

BUA Town Centre

Difficult

Difficult

Difficult

2L

-

-

Cluttered

-

1R

Zero

Heights

Difficult

Impassable

Difficult

-

-

-

Cluttered

-

-

-

Open

-

-

-

-

-

-

Clear

-

-

-

Woods

Pure

Impassable

Impassable

1L

-

-

Cluttered

-

-

Zero

 

Terrain

Movement

Cover

ZOC

Firepower

Leg/non-motorised

Wheels/ motorised

Tracked/ mechanised

Defile

Obstacle

Obstacle

Obstacle

-

-

1R

Ridgelines

-

-

-

-

Cluttered

-

Aircraft

The Syrian air force was not committed to the battle, leaving the Jordanians with air supremacy

On day 1 the Jordanians get a Hunter ground attack aircraft on a roll of 6 (d6) - roll every turn

On day 2 a roll of 2-4 gets the Jordanians a single hunter aircraft. On a roll of a 5 or 6 they get two Hunters - roll every turn.

Special Rules

The game is 6 turns long on day 1 and 6 turns long on day 2, with a night interval between.

The Fedayeen may not voluntarily leave the BUA they start the game in. If they are forced out they must endeavour to re-occupy a BUA as soon as the move rolls allow.

The elements of the Nittin Brigade will not move unless a Syrian army unit starts the turn within 12"

Victory Conditions

The following locations are victory locations (pink stars on the map): crossroads X; point Y where the road crosses the ridge; point W where the road enters the heights; point E where the road leaves the map to the south (this is the road to Amman the Jordanian capital); the Azim Al-Mofti refugee camp BUA and the Irbid BUA

To win the Syrians or Palestinians must hold Irbid. If it is lost they automatically lose, this trumps al other victory conditions.

Otherwise to win the Syrians and Palestinians must hold 5 or more victory locations. If they hold 4 locations the game is a draw. If they hold three or less locations the game is a Jordanian victory.

To hold points E, W, X and Y either side must have the only units within 6" of the point (measured from the centre of the road). If the point is contended neither side counts as holding it. It the point is unoccupied the last side to hold the point counts as holding it at the end of the game.

To hold Irbid or Azmi Al-Mofti there must be a PLA or Fedayeen unit at least partially within at the end of the game. There must be no Jordanian units partially or wholly within the BUA

References

Arabs at War: Military Effectiveness, 1948-1991, Kenneth Michael Pollack: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=sSHYdGR_xvoC&lpg=PA344&dq=syrian%20infantry%20division%201967&pg=PA335#v=onepage&q=syrian%20infantry%20division%201967&f=false

General Zia in Jordan: http://www.brownpundits.com/2014/06/19/general-zia-in-jordan/

Green March, Black September (RLE Israel and Palestine), John K. Cooley: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ID-sCQAAQBAJ&pg=PA116&lpg=PA116&dq=%22Black+september%22+irbid&source=bl&ots=JRB1oVk-7H&sig=8BKXdd48UYuFXGhnO8zSUbQlZqE&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwixzt-3pvTaAhUQPsAKHaZ7Cr04ChDoAQhBMAU#v=onepage&q=%22Black%20september%22%20irbid&f=false

Jordan and the 1967 War, Samir A. Mutawi

Syria’s 1970 Invasion of Jordan: www.dtic.mil/get-tr-doc/pdf?AD=ADA515566

Terror in Black September: https://ia800200.us.archive.org/4/items/TerrorInBlackSeptemberDavidRaab/Terror%20in%20Black%20September%20-%20David%20Raab.pdf

TO&Es Yahoo group: https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/TOandEs/conversations/messages/58963

US State Department Archives, Jordan, September 1970: https://2001-2009.state.gov/documents/organization/113360.pdf