Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Edward Gibson Lanpher
As soon as the war was over, within days, everybody in the U.S. Army and Air Force wanted to come out to Tel Aviv and debrief and get the story on the war, which was seen by our people as just incredible. The tank tactics and the air tactics, our experts and intelligence people wanted to get in very early. Our people wanted to get into the Sinai and wanted the Israelis to give us Egyptian surface to air missiles, which were Russian, the same things that the Vietnamese were using against us in Vietnam. There were a lot of exchanges after the war. I'll never forget a U.S. Air Force team coming ouI guess I went with thefor debriefing the Israeli Air Force. By this time, I was in the political section doing a lot of handholding of visitors. I went out with this Air Force team to one of the big Israeli air force bases. The commander gave a briefing and our guys asked a lot of questions. One of our guys said, “You just said you were getting six or seven sorties a day out of your aircraft. That's impossible. We can't do that.” The Israeli said, “Well, that's what we did. We've got excellent ground crews and we can turn a plane around in X minutes and get it fully armed, fueled, and everything.” Our guys just were astounded and they challenged the Israelis, saying, “It can't be done.” So, the Israeli commander trotted out a ground crew, a plane, and demonstrated just how they did it and how fast they could do it. Our Air Force people still didn't believe it. They said, “Look, we have a demonstration crew at our place and we do dog and pony shows. We have a prize crew that can do this.” The Israeli commander called out all the ground crews and said, “You pick as many of these as you want. They can all do it.” Our guys finally believed him. But it was quite an incredible military performance in the eyes of our professionals. When you see the Golan Heights and how the Israelis went up the Golan Heights and took the Syrians on with their World War II Sherman tanks, it's quite incredible.
Q: Was the entry of Jordan into the war and the occupation of thWest Bank considered to be a temporary thing?
LANPHER: My recollection is not perfect. The Israelis did not expect Jordan would enter the war. I don't think they wanted Jordan to enter the war at least in the military sense. One front with Egypt was enough. But they were prepared for the contingency of Jordan entering the war. I think they were disappointed in King Hussein, who got caught up in the momentum or whatever it was of the Arab rhetoric. At that point, the Israelis said, “Okay, he wants to play. We'll take him out, too.” So, they took the Old City and the West Bank. But I don't think it was part of their plan. I think they had a contingency. Certainly they had troops deployed on the green line and in Jerusalem, but their focus was Egypt.
Q: How did the ambassador use the embassy? Did you feel he was ofdoing his thing or were you pretty well informed of what was going on?