This Week in EUCOM History: October 30 - November 4, 1956

EUCOM and its components reach thier highest-ever post-1945 manpower level during this period: 464,694 people.*

EUCOM was closely watching two major crises within its area of resposnibility: The Hungarian Revolution and Suez Canal Crisis. Sixth Fleet was placed on alert by Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Arliegh Burke: “"Keep clear of foreign op areas but take no guff from anybody."

The Suez Crisis:

The Suez Crisis was an offensive war fought by France, the United Kingdom, and Israel against Egypt beginning Oct. 29, 1956.

On Oct. 30, 1956, Sixth Fleet was placed on alert to respond to the crisis in the Suez. The British-French attack on Egypt began Oct. 31 with a series of large-scale air strikes. The following day, Admiral Arleigh Burke signaled Vice Admiral Charles R. "Cat" Brown, Commander Sixth Fleet: "Situation tense; prepare for imminent hostilities." Brown signaled back: "Am prepared for imminent hostilities, but whose side are we on?" In classic Burke style, the CNO's return response was,

"Keep clear of foreign op areas but take no guff from anybody."

Less than a day after Israel invaded Egypt, Britain and France issued a joint ultimatum to Egypt and Israel, and then began to bomb Cairo. Anglo-French forces withdrew before the end of the year, but Israeli forces remained until March 1957, prolonging the crisis. In April, the canal was fully reopened to shipping.

The attack followed the President of Egypt Gamal Abdel Nasser's July 25, 1956, decision of  to nationalize the Suez Canal, after the withdrawal of an offer by Britain and the United States to fund the building of the Aswan Dam, which was in response to Egypt's new ties with the Soviet Union and recognizing the People's Republic of China during the height of tensions between China and Taiwan. The aims of the attack were primarily to regain Western control of the canal and precipitate the fall of Nasser from power, whose policies were viewed as potentially threatening the strategic interests of the three nations. 

Hungarian Revolution:

On Nov. 4, a large Soviet force invaded Budapest and other regions of the country.

Soviet troops entered Hungary to end the Hungarian revolution against the Soviet Union which started a week prior on Oct. 23. Hungarian resistance continued until Nov. 10. More than 2,500 Hungarians and 700 Soviet troops were killed in the conflict, and 200,000 Hungarians fled as refugees.

The Hungarian Revolution was a spontaneous nationwide revolt against the government of the People's Republic of Hungary and its Soviet-imposed policies. The revolt spread quickly across Hungary and the government fell. The new government formally disbanded the State Police, declared its intention to withdraw from the Warsaw Pact and pledged to re-establish free elections. By the end of October, fighting had almost stopped and a sense of normality began to return.

*Source: DoD Personnel & Procurement Statistics: Personnel & Procurement Reports and Data Files

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