227th Aviation Regiment
Persian Gulf War
"POWER"; or "CAN DO"





US Army Forces Central Command
  
The United States Army Forces Central Command (ARCENT) - Kuwait, a major subordinate command of the United States ARCENT of Ft. McPherson, Georgia. and the United States Central Command (CENTCOM) of Tampa, Florida, is the operational unit of the US Army in Kuwait. The mission of the United States CENTCOM is to:

  • Support US and free-world interests by assuring access to Mideast oil resources,
  • Help friendly regional states maintain their own security and collective defense,
  • Maintain an effective and visible US military presence in the region,
  • Deter threats by hostile regional states, and
  • Project a military force into the region if necessary.

The mission of US ARCENT, Kuwait is to acquire, maintain and protect a heavy brigade (reinforced) equipment set, to plan, direct and support all joint training exercises with the Kuwaiti Armed Forces and, in concert with the Government of Kuwait, to establish and maintain the contingency plans for the security of Kuwait. The center of Central Command operations is at Camp Doha, twenty miles north of Kuwait City. Doha is a large logistics base with a working population of over two thousand personnel - US soldiers and airmen, and both US and Kuwaiti contract personnel.

On 02 August 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait. In the background of this invasion there were three basic causes for this action. First, Kuwait had been part of the Ottoman Empire from the 18th century until 1899 when it asked for, and received, British protection in return for autonomy in local affairs. In 1961 Britain granted Kuwait independence. Iraq revived an old claim that Kuwait had been governed as part of an Ottoman province in southern Iraq and was therefore rightfully part of Iraq. This claim led to several confrontations over the years and continued hostility.

Second, rich deposits of oil straddled the ill-defined border and Iraq constantly claimed that Kuwaiti oil rigs were illegally tapping into Iraqi oil fields. Middle Eastern deserts make border delineation difficult and this has caused many conflicts in the region. Iraq also accused Kuwait of producing more oil than allowed under quotas set by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), thereby depressing the price of oil, the main source of money for Iraq,

Finally, the fallout from the First Persian Gulf War between Iraq and Iran strained relations between Baghdad and Kuwait. This war began with an Iraqi invasion of Iran and degenerated into a bloody form of trench warfare as the Iranians slowly drove Saddam Hussein's armies back into Iraq. Kuwait and many other Arab nations supported Iraq against the Islamic Revolutionary government of Iran, fearful that Saddam's defeat could herald a wave of Iranian-inspired revolution throughout the Arab world. Following the end of the war, relations between Iraq and Kuwait deteriorated due to a lack of gratitude and acknowledgement of the Baghdad government for financial assistance and help in logistic support provided by Kuwait during the war and the reawakening of old issues regarding the border and Kuwaiti sovereignty.

On 07 August, President George H. W. Bush ordered the organization of Desert Shield. The order prepared American troops to become part of an international coalition in a war against Iraq that would be launched as Desert Storm in January, 1991. This was a decision to deploy US forces on a massive scale to eject the Iraqis from Kuwait and protect Saudi Arabia. The lead unit for this deployment was the VII Corps from Germany.

Theater of Operations
  
In August 1990, the 1st Cavalry Division was alerted for deployment to Southwest Asia as part of the joint forces participating in Operation Desert Shield. The focus at that time was the defense of Saudi Arabia against potential Iraqi attack. The First Team soldiers flew from Robert Gray Army Airfield to Dhahran International Airport via Paris, France and Cairo, Egypt. There, they settled into warehouses and tents to await the arrival of their equipment. As soon as their equipment arrived, they moved to the remote Assembly Area Horse (AA Horse) in the Saudi desert 160 miles west of the airport.

Between 30 September and 10 October, the 227th Aviation Regiment off loaded equipment at the Port of Ad Dammam, Saudi Arabia and prepared for operations. On 10 October, the 1st Battalion moved 165 km Southwest into the desert and deployed to Assemble Area, "Horse". On 30 October, the Battalion began familiarization and crew training to adjust to the Saudi Arabian desert environment. Special emphasis was placed on night proficiency. Flight training continued into November, changing emphasis to team and company drills. Plans and rehearsals for the defense of Saudi Arabia were developed and constantly refined.

Drill W/Minimum Dust Signatures
  
Running fire drills, allowing Apaches to stay low during engagement without producing high dust signatures were practiced. These techniques were practiced and refined during company battle drills day and night. During the first week of January, AH-64 live fire, night gunnery was practiced on the Pegasus Range, which had been built up out of the desert sands by the 8th Engineer Battalion.

On 11 January 1991, beginning to focus on offensive action, the 1st Battalion moved northwest to Tactical Assembly Area Wendy, located in the vicinity of King Khalid Military City (KKMC). For the 1st Battalion, the war began during the day, on 17 January, in an attack against 50 Iraqi tanks crossing the border into Saudi Arabia. Shortly after departure, the mission was scrubbed without any direct engagement. The Iraqi tanks had defected. Positioned at Assembly Area Wendy, plans for the defense of Wadi al Batin and areas north of Tapline Road were refined. In further preparation, on 04 February, Hellfire gunnery was conducted at night on the Jayhawk Range.

On 10 February, the 1st Battalion moved North of Hafar al Batin to Assembly Area Bart. Although plans had been made to conduct screen operations, none were flown as part of the 1st Cavalry Division's plan of deception to conduct a "feint" attack up the Wadi al Batin, creating the illusion that it was the Allies main ground attack. Crew chiefs went to work by flashlight to ready the helicopters that would fly into killing range of the Iraqi 27th and 28th Infantry Divisions. After being postponed three times, the Battalion launched early in the damp, cold dawn of 25 February without close air support. The mission was composed of sixteen AH-64's to concentrate fire power on the prime target areas.

AH-64 Cockpit Night Vision Display
  
Passing over the berm and over the 2nd Brigade, the pilots could make out tankers below waving and cheering the "tank killers" on. Moments later, eight Iraqi solders held up tattered white flags. Bravo Company's "Grim Reaper" scouts landed their OH-58's to watch them until members of the 2nd Brigade could round them up and collect them. Meanwhile, the Battalion was hitting the enemy hard, destroying tanks, trucks, mortar and artillery pieces, fuel tankers and soldiers.

As the fire escalated, a radio call froze everyone for an instant. "We're hit, we're hit, we're going down". It was the Commander of Charlie Company, Captain Mike Klingele. Their wingman, 1st Lt. Robert Johnston, saw the crash and suppressed the enemy who had already began to move in on the wreck. Captain Klingele and his crewman CWO Mike Butler were able to free themselves from the cockpit and began to run towards Johnston's ship. Johnston took off with the two hanging by a strap attached to the pylons. The Iraqis, fearing the main effort was about to be launched, set fire trenches ablaze in front of the 2nd Brigade. The smoke, combined with the uncertain tactical situation, made a recovery of the AH-64 by a CH-47 Chinook too risky. The downed helicopter was destroyed in place with two TOW missiles.

The Battalion regrouped and made two more runs against the Iraqis before they were relieved by the 1st Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment. The tally for the day was thirty one bunkers, one tank, three howitzers, five trucks, a radar site and two grateful survivors.

On 27 February, the Battalion moved North across the Saudi Arabia - Iraq border as an element of the ground war. Aircraft stopped to refuel at Objective Lee, then continued Northeast in Iraq to Assembly Area John. Upon arrival the aircraft remained in standby and were not committed to battle. On 28 February, the ground elements of the 227th closed with the aircraft when the 48 hour cease fire went into effect. As the sun rose over the silent battlefield, the Aviation Brigade found itself squarely in the middle of the Tawakalna's former sector. The sand was laced with unexploded cluster munitions from the intense air campaign against the Republican Guard.

On the opening days of the ground war, 24 - 25 February, the Blackjack Brigade, supported by the Aviation Brigade Apache helicopters, in Operation QUICK STRIKE, moved into Iraq on a "reconnaissance in force". The 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery, reinforced by Battery "A", 21st Field Artillery Multiple Launched Rocket Systems (MLRS) laid down heavy fire in support of the 2nd "Blackjack" Brigade's "feint" attack up the Wadi al Batin. The Blackjack Brigade broke contact after penetrating enemy obstacles, taking fire and causing the enemy to light oil fire trenches. They withdrew south to rejoin the division for the subsequent series of final attacks.

Position cursor on selected function, "Click" and "Hold".
Summary Of Actions, 24 - 28 February
  
The enemy reacted as anticipated. Iraqi divisions focused on the coalition threat in the Wadi, and the First Team froze them. The deception worked, in that it tied down four Iraqi divisions, leaving their flanks thinned and allowed the VII Corps to attack virtually unopposed, conducting a successful envelopment of Iraqi forces to the west.

Having fulfilled their assigned mission of deception, the following day, General Norman Schwarzkopf issued the command "Send in the First Team. Destroy the Republican Guard. Let's go home". In the approximate center of the allied line, along the Wadi al Batin, Maj. Gen. John H. Tilelli, Jr.'s 1st Cavalry Division swung west at noon the 26 of February, conducting refueling on the move, crossing the 1st Infantry Division breach sites and moving up the left side of VII Corps' sector by late 26 February, and attacked north into a concentration of Iraqi divisions, whose commanders remained convinced that the Allies would use the Wadi al Batin and several other wadies as avenues of attack.

Destroy the Republican Guard
  
The first enemy encountered was the Iraqi 27th Infantry Division. That was not their first meeting. General Tilelli's division had actually been probing the Iraqi defenses for some time. As these limited thrusts continued in the area that became known as the "Ruqi Pocket". The 1st Cavalry found and destroyed elements of five Iraqi divisions, evidence that they had succeeded in their theater reserve mission of drawing and holding enemy units.

By mid afternoon 27 February, after a high-speed 190 mile (305 Km) move north and east, slicing into the enemy's rear, General Tilelli's brigades joined in with the 24th Division across the VII Corps' boundary. The dust storms had cleared early in the day, revealing the most awesome array of armored and mechanized power fielded since World War II. In a panorama extending beyond visual limits 1,500 tanks, another 1,500 Bradleys and armored personnel carriers, 650 artillery pieces, and supply columns of hundreds of vehicles stretching into the dusty brown distance rolled east through Iraqi positions, as inexorable as a lava flow.

By 28 February, when the cease-fire ordered by President Bush went into effect, the Iraqis had lost 3,847 of their 4,280 tanks, over half of their 2,880 armored personnel carriers, and nearly all of their 3,100 artillery pieces. Only five to seven of their forty-three combat divisions remained capable of offensive operations. In the days after the cease-fire the busiest soldiers were those engaged in the monumental task of counting and caring for an estimated 60,000 prisoners.

Stand Down After Cease Fire
  
On 04 March, a thorough battle assessment was conducted. As part of the clean up operations, two OH-58's, equipped with loud speakers, along with AH-64 helicopters swept a large area of Southern Iraq evaluating battle damage using gun cameras to record the wreckage. The mission also uncovered several Iraqi soldiers left behind in the retreat of the Republican guard. On 07 March, fourteen of the personnel of the Battalion, led by the Battalion XO, departed with the advance party of the Division to Fort Hood, Texas.

On 09 and 10 March, searching through the historic Euphrates River Valley, the Aviation Regiment supported demolition operations of abandoned equipment and undamaged Iraqi equipment. Within 2 weeks, the 1st Cavalry moved south into Saudi Arabia and the new assembly area (AA) Killeen. There on the plain of the Wadi al Batin - the Cavalry began to prepare for redeployment home.

During Operation Desert Storm, the First Team accumulated several new "Firsts":
  • "First" to defend along the Saudi-Iraq border.
  • "First" to fire Copperhead artillery rounds in combat.
  • "First" to conduct intensive MLRS artillery raids.
  • "First" to conduct mobile armored warfare in Iraq .

First Team Persian Gulf Color Guard






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Copyright © 1996, Cavalry Outpost Publications ® and Trooper Wm. H. Boudreau, "F" Troop, 8th Cavalry Regiment (1946 - 1947). All rights to this body of work are reserved and are not in the public domain, or as noted in the bibliography. Reproduction, or transfer by electronic means, of the History of the 1st Cavalry Division, the subordinate units or any internal element, is not permitted without prior authorization. Readers are encouraged to link to any of the pages of this Web site, provided that proper acknowledgment attributing to the source of the data is made. The information or content of the material contained herein is subject to change without notice.

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