Desert Storm, a day by day history

KuwaitLib“Congratulations on your superb combat performance…
You met every requirement of our mission and accomplished everything expected of you by the nation, the Army and the Corps. Few units could have done what you did; nobody could have done it better.”
L.D. Holder
65th Colonel of the Regiment
1 March 1991

INTRODUCTION

When Saddam Hussein, President of Iraq, directed his forces to invade Kuwait no one could have predicted the eventual involvement of the 2d ACR. The Regiment was in fact in gunnery at Grafenwoehr on the 2nd of August 1990, the date of the invasion. Speculation about a mission in the Gulf occurred, but no one really expected that the Regiment would actually deploy.

Speculation continued as the American involvement in Southwest Asia grew. The decision to deploy VII Corps apparently came after diplomatic efforts, to include U.N. directed economic sanctions, failed to dislodge the Iraqis from Kuwait. The President’ s announcement that he was sending additional troops and that these troops would center around the VII Corps was not entirely a surprise, although the exact timing did surprise many … there was no advance warning of the President’ s announcement on national television on 8 November 1990.

The Regiment began intensive movement planning the next day. Corps’ initial instruction to move no earlier than 20 November turned into “begin movement tomorrow”. The Regiment’ s tracked vehicles and many of the wheeled vehicles were rail loaded from five different sites to the north German port of Bremerhaven on short notice. The Regimental Support Squadron (RSS) coordinated for operations at Bremerhaven, starting before a Support Command base was established and assuring unit integrity in shipping in spite of considerable difficulties. Work slowdowns, rail strikes, bad weather, and changing guidance complicated the move. RSS fabricated rail tie down gear as trains loaded, to cover theater shortages.

The Dragoons first flights left from Nuernberg and Rhein-Main AFB on 3 December. The Regiment finished deployment by mid-December, arriving in Saudi Arabia through Dhahran Air Base, King Fahd International Airport, and Al Jubail Naval Air Station.

The Regiment’ s initial home was the ISA set up outside Al Jubail while its equipment was unloaded at Jubail port. The Second Squadron led the Regiment out of the port area on 18 December, occupying TAA Seminole (named after the Regiment’ s first campaign in 1836) and followed shortly by 3/2, 1/2, 4/2 and RSS. Escaping the crowded conditions of the ISA improved morale considerably.

The Regiment made its home in TAA Seminole for the next month. Here the Regiment acclimated to the desert environment, a totally new experience, and concentrated on training. Battle drills, gunnery, and maneuvering from the platoon to squadron level, as well as CPX’ s at the Regimental level, developed desert fighting skills. Transition from European practices proved to be unexpectedly easy. The Regiment spent Christmas and New Years at TAA Seminole, eating two fabulous holiday meals. It was also here that the Dragoon Battle Group began to take shape with the addition of the 210th Field Artillery Brigade, 82d Engineer Battalion, 214th MP Company, 172d Chemical Company, 178th Personnel Services Company, and several Corps intelligence units. With these additional assets the Dragoon Battle Group amounted to over 8,000 troops.

Operation Desert Shield became “Desert Storm” at 0300 hrs, 17 January, when coalition air forces began the air campaign against the Iraqi forces. The Regiment’ s training became increasingly purposeful with the onset of war. Additionally, the Regiment replaced its M3 Scout Bradleys while at Seminole with more heavily armored M2A2s “Brads”. That swap made a big difference in scout effectiveness once the shooting started.

In late January, the Regiment moved to a new forward assembly area, FAA Richardson, located southwest of the city of Hafar Al Batin. The Regiment completed its final preparations in Richardson. These included a Regimental CFX, a war game of the final plan, and combined arms rehearsals for the breaching of the border obstacle. The Regiment moved forward into an attack position, FAA Utah, on 17 February to cover the Corps armored divisions as they formed for their “G-Day” (Ground Offensive Day) attacks. On 21 February, Corps confirmed that G-Day would be 24 February. Second Cavalry’ s mission was to cover the extensive flank of VII (US) Corps as it occupies FAA Utah and, on G-Day, H-Hour, to attack through the western flank of enemy defenses and to conduct offensive cover operations in order to develop the situation for VII Corps. The Regiment would start one day ahead of the rest of VII Corps to assure easy passage of the border obstacles.

The concept called for a fast advance oriented on the Republican Guards forces located 120 kilometers to the northeast. The Regiment was to scout forward with air cavalry, pound enemy positions with close air support as soon as they were found, and follow-up with an aggressive ground attack supported with rocket and Howitzer artillery fire as well as electronic warfare. At night, artillery fires and AH-64 Apache attack helicopters of 2-1 Aviation Battalion (OPCON) would keep pressure on the Iraqis. Second Cavalry covered the attacks of two armored divisions initially. As the situation clarified, Lieutenant General Franks, VII Corps Commander, would commit divisions through or around 2d ACR to destroy the heavy divisions of the Republican Guard.

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