Peled's Special Manoeuvre Force

Peled’s Special Manoeuvre Force
with Garry Wait

One of the parts of gaming that I love most is the customising of an army list. Even prior to a tournament, I relish researching and personalising the army I’m keen to run so that it matches history. I know I’ve had fun in a tournament setting with my Bundeswehr 91 Lehr Panzer Grenadier Battalion for WWIII: Team Yankee for example. 

Now that I’ve been working on Israelis, a unit from the Lebanon war fascinated me. This was a small division sized unit that was used as a specialised anti tank blocking force and was quite unusual in its operations.

Formed as an adhoc unit and known as “Peled’s Special Manoeuvre Force” after its Commanding Officer, Major General Yossi Peled.  

Peled was noteworthy as a very charismatic and energetic armoured commander in an army that seemed to have a surplus of such charismatic and gifted armoured leaders. Impressive to stand out from such company!

Peled was born Jozef Medelevich in Belgium in 1941 but changed his name to Yossi Peled shortly after emigrating to Israel after the War.  He and his mother were the only survivors of their family to escape the Holocaust, his father having entrusted him to a Catholic family prior to being consigned to Auschwitz. The mother and son were assisted in their emigration by troops of the British Army’s Jewish Brigade who no doubt had a huge impact upon the young Peled. 

Not everyone can thrive in the unusual environment of the Israel Defence Forces but Peled relished the opportunity to join the fledgling tank forces, commencing his fighting career as a Tank Company commander in the 1967 Arab Israeli War with 9th Battalion, 7th Armoured Brigade of the 84th Ugda (Armoured Division).

Peled shortly followed with a tank battalion command during the war of Attrition and was so successful he was promoted to Brigade commander of the 205th Reserve Armoured Brigade in the Yom Kippur War in 1973. During this challenging time, Peled impressed his superiors by moving his Brigade from their base outside Jerusalem all the way by road to Golan Heights. Once on this fabled battlefield, the Brigade excelled at holding off numerically monstrous Syrian attacks. Having passed through the crucible of combat several times successfully, Peled was assigned command of the 252nd Division in the Sinai Peninsula.

Peled's Special Manoeuvre Force

Having established his ability in combat on numerous occasions and as a rising star of the IDF, Yossi Peled was appointed to command a provisional force using two reserve Brigades, a mix of Mechanised and Paratrooper battalions, all mounted in variants of the M113A1 Armoured Personnel Carrier.

Nicknamed by the troops themselves proudly as “Yossi’s Force”, the principal component of Yossi’s Force was two brigades, the 409th Reserve AT Brigade and 551st Reserve AT Brigade "Hetzei Ha-Esh" (Arrows of Fire in Hebrew).

Attached Air Defence in M163 “Hovet” and artillery with M109 “Rochev” self-propelled howitzers rounded out the main parts of the force and at times, the two Reserve AT Brigades were supported by regular armoured units of 734th and 943rd Armoured Brigades, 90th Ugda (Division), both equipped with Magach MBTs.  

What characterised Peled’s Force was its high amount of anti tank forces.  With a clearly designated purpose of using light and fast moving forces for blocking much heavier MBTs, the reservist troops were intended as a fast moving tank hunting force and were liberally equipped with extra Dragon and TOW missile teams. The TOW teams were mounted predominantly in cutdown M38A1 Jeeps, known as Djapas Orev in Hebrew. Peled’s Force was also characterised by close coordination with Cobra gunships used in a tank hunting role in support of the mechanised infantry and paratroopers.

Peled's Special Manoeuvre Force

In combat, Peled’s Force was imaginatively led, being used as a fast-moving probe along the edge of the Bekaa valley and utilising road systems carefully to provide a screen for the armoured forces following. Peled’s troops experienced cleverly operated Gazelle helicopters sniping at M113 Bardelass and supporting Magach tanks. These hit and run attacks were a constant nuisance and caused ongoing attrition for the advancing Israelis. This problem was solved by the Israeli mechanised forces leading their attack columns with units of the excellent M163 Hovet Air Defence troops of the Israel Air Force. Once this change was made and the Syrians lost their first Gazelle destroyed by 20mm ammunition, the Syrian helicopter crews kept a respectable distance from Israeli vehicles and losses dropped right off. Redeye was not recognised as much of a threat to the Syrian aircraft while the Chapparal was kept more to the rear with its unarmoured chassis being a liability in the frontline.

Peled’s greatest success apart from an ongoing lightning advance was in setting an ambush at the small village of Yanta on 11th June 1982 that caught off guard elements of the Syrian 3rd Armoured Division’s 82nd Armoured Brigade and destroyed nine of the precious T72 tanks. This success was even more dramatic as no Merkava had ever engaged T72s during the war at all meaning that lesser Israeli tanks such as Magachs and Centurions had taken the strain of dealing with the powerful 125mm armed Syrian vehicles to date.

Fortunately for the Syrians, an hour after their blunder into this violent ambush a UN enforced Cease Fire came into effect, preventing greater loss of life.

At the time, Peled’s Special Manouevre Force was only 25 kilometres from Damascus.  

It is a fascinating consideration as to what would have happened had the UN not intervened with the Cease Fire and Peled’s Force be allowed to make their way forward in their probe into enemy territory.  

Fielding Peled's Special Maneuver Force in WWIII: Team Yankee
You can represent this force in WWIII: Team Yankee by running two or three Mechanised Infantry Units and the M150 TOW and M125 mortar vehicles within the formation along with attached TOW Jeeps, M106 120mm mortar carriers, and Cobra helicopters in support. Attach a formation of Magach tanks to provide some armoured counterattack ability but remember to use your infantry aggressively, the power of this list is its mechanised infantry. 

It is not known if any Pereh anti-tank platforms were used at this time however it is unlikely as the platform was very new and in short supply, although there is still secrecy over the use of this system.

Peled's Special Manoeuvre Force

HQ – 1 M113 – Galil team  1pt

2 Platoons – 4 M113 and mechanised infantry 11pts each

1 platoon – 2 M150 3pts

1 platoon – 3 M125 2pts

Total Formation 28pts

HQ – 2 Magach 7pts

2 Platoons – 3 Magach 11pts each

1 Platoon – 3 M113 Scouts 2pts each

Total Formation: 31pts

Support :

OP team – M113 1pt

Platoon – 4 Jeep with TOW 6pts

Flight – 4 AH1 Viper 16pts 

Platoon – 4 M163 SPAA 7pts

Platoon – 2 Redeye 2pts

Platoon – 3 M109 SP Guns 7pts

Platoon – 2 M106 (120mm Mortar) 2pts

Using this force in a game will require some finesse. Use your mortars and artillery to provide smoke (preferably preplanned) and look to use your excellent mobility to take on the enemy’s flanks. You’ve got lots of ability to engage enemies on flanks and look to use your Magachs as an outflanking force. It’s surprising how often people underestimate the ability of a unit with high skill and the ability to Blitz readily such as these.
~Garry