Maj. Gen. Avraham “Bren” Adan, whose leadership proved crucial in changing the course of the Yom Kippur War, died Thursday night at 86. Bren had health problems for the past several years, Army Radio reported Friday.
Adan was the head of the Israel Defense Forces’ 162nd Division when Egypt and Syria launched their surprise attack on Oct. 6, 1973, while most Israelis were at home observing the Yom Kippur holiday. While initially caught off guard, Israeli forces eventually managed to turn the tables on both fronts. When war broke out, Adan found himself and his unit facing the brunt of the Arab attack along the canal in the first days of the fighting. He lost a third or more of his tanks in a short-lived counterattack during the second day of the conflict. Despite being wounded, he led troops across the Suez Canal and well into Egyptian territory. Adan’s victories in the Yom Kippur War did much to enhance the reputation that he was building during the war, prompting Chief of General Staff David Elazar to comment, “He’s worth gold, that Bren.”
Despite the successful outcome of the war, Israelis felt their military and political elite had failed them due to the major intelligence lapses and operational shortcomings that cost many lives. More than 2,500 Israeli service members died in the war, the second bloodiest in Israeli history. In the wake of the 1973 war, a commission of inquiry faulted the army’s top brass for the IDF’s unsuccessful efforts to repel the Syrian and Egyptian armies in the first days of the war and for failing to sound the alarm on the impending aggression despite mounting evidence. But Adan was one of the few generals who was left unscathed by the panel’s report, the Israeli online news portal Ynet reported Friday.
Upon news of Adan’s death, Minister of Defense Ehud Barak issued a statement recalling the “great privilege” he has had of serving under the general’s command during the Yom Kippur War. “Bren was one of the most important combat officers the IDF has ever had; he led by example, with his calm and levelheaded approach and grace under fire, thus setting the norms that still govern the IDF’s conduct,” the statement read. “Many generations of fighters will forever remember him.” Barak’s statement went on to say that the minister “salutes” his former commander.
Adan had helped capture the port of Eilat during the 1948 War of Independence in the famous battle that ended the two-year campaign. In that battle, a photographer captured Adan in what later became an iconic photo depicting Israeli soldiers hoisting an improvised Israeli flag on the Eilat shore. After the Yom Kippur War, Adan served briefly as the GOC Southern Command before being appointed as the IDF military attache in Washington.
Source: Israel Hayom