Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve: The Air Campaign, Effectiveness, Part III

NATO Secretary General at the Global Coalition to Counter-ISIL Defense Ministerial

Logo for the Global Counter ISIL Defence Ministerial, held in Washington D.C., 20 July 2016.[i]

Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve: The Air Campaign, Effectiveness, Part III

CENTCOM’s CJTF-OIR mission is now entering the second year since its inception in August 2014. It has been almost six months since the United States and its coalition partners began transitioning to the expanded phase of the CJTF-OIR mission. April to October 2016 witnessed a general expansion of the Global Coalition’s air campaign, complemented by relentless diplomatic pressure to bolster the Coalition’s political support and capabilities. Turkish ground forces intervened in August to prevent the Kurdish occupation of Manbij, and in September Russia accelerated its support for the Syrian regime forces battling in Aleppo. The April – October period ended with the Coalition preparing for its final series of operations against Raqqa and Mosul.

Diplomacy: Strengthening the Commitment, Two Years of Progress

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US President Barack Obama speaking to Russian President Vladimir Putin on 18 April 2016. Control between the Russian and Coalition partners remained both complicated and dangerous, and was not always conducted with mutual satisfaction.

NATO Secretary General visits the Aegean Sea

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg flies by helicopter to Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 Flagship, Bonn, 21 April 2016.[ii] NATO’s role in the Coalition remained hugely important, especially in the naval, air and training roles, although the United States continued to shoulder the majority of airstrikes and ground personnel.

Command reshuffling continued throughout the April – October period. On 21 April, Major General Peter E. Gersten, the deputy commander, operations and intelligence for the CJTF-OIR and 9th Air Expeditionary Task Force, was moved to the Secretary of Air Force’s office at the Pentagon as deputy assistant for programs, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management and Comptroller,[iii] continuing a trend seen throughout 2016 of Iraq and Afghanistan senior commanders moving between and into Washington posts.

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Vice President Joseph Biden boards a C-17 aircraft after concluding his visit to Baghdad on April 28.[iv] Biden’s surprise visit was meant to impress the importance of the Coalition’s long-term Mosul strategy; the recapture of ISIL’s Iraq capital is one of President Obama’s year end goals.

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In Hannover, US President Barack Obama met with the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron; the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, President of France, Francois Hollande and Matto Renzi, the Prime Minister of Italy. 25 April 2016. Europe’s commitment to the counter-ISIL mission remained steadfast despite a number of ISIS terrorist attacks on European soil.

On April 28, Lt. General Thomas Waldhauser, formerly the director joint forces development at the Pentagon (J-7, Joint Staff HQ, USMC)[v], was promoted full general and appointed the commander, US Forces, AFRICOM.[vi] The Africa Command played an important role in the expanded counter-ISIL mission: several high profile strikes were carried out in Libya.

On 2 May, US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced that Norway had agreed to provide special forces to Jordan to assist in the training of Syrian Sunni fighters. The coalition continued to train “vetted” Syrian fighters. Norway also agreed to send a special medical team directly to the combat areas of northern Iraq.[vii] Carter personally thanked Norway’s Defence Minister, Ine Eriksen Soreide for her assistance in securing Norway’s commitment to the ongoing mission. Carter planned to meet with Defence Minister Soreide in Stuttgart for a CJTF ministers meeting happening later that week.

On 4 May Air Force Lieutenant General Charles Q. Brown Jr., the deputy commander USAF Central Command, Southwest Asia, became deputy commander, US Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base.[viii] That same day, Ash Carter met with the Danish Defense Minister, Peter Christensen, at the Stuttgart anti-ISIL defence ministerial. Christensen pledged to commit Danish forces to the full spectrum of military operations in Iraq and Syria.[ix]

On 11 May, Elissa Slotkin, Acting Assistant Secretary for International Security Affairs, and Joint Staff Director for Strategic Plans and Policy, Lt. General Kenneth F. McKenzie, held a video-conference with their Russian MOD counterparts to recommit to the US-Russia memorandum of understanding on flight restrictions for Syria., the first of many teleconferences for the period.[x] The Russia-US memorandum would become especially significant towards the end of September with the collapse of the ceasefire agreement, and the renewed Russian air campaign against Aleppo.

On 13 May, US Secretary of Defence Ash Carter announced that Belgium would commit air assets (F-16s) to Syria as part of the counter-ISIL mission. Carter commended Prime Minister Charles Michel and Defence Minister Steven Vadeput for their support.[xi]

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Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Curtis Scaparrotti (US Army), and General John W. Nicholson, commander Operation Resolute Support (Afghanistan), at the Meetings of the Chiefs of Defence, in Brussels, 18 May. The interplay between Afghanistan, NATO, and the CJTF-OIR was maintained at the highest level, yet remained only one of the several security challenges facing the US and NATO. Other areas of concern were Eastern Europe and the Asia-Pacific.

Meetings of the Chiefs of Defence at NATO Headquarters in Brussels - MC-CS Resolute Support Format

18 May 2016, General Joseph F. Dunford (USMC) meeting with Vice Admiral John N. Christenson, the US Military Representative to NATO, at the 175th session of the Meetings of the Chiefs of the Defence at NATO HQ, Brussels.[xii] Dunford, along with Secretary Carter, were instrumental in pushing for US troop increases to the CJTF.

On 18 May, Secretary Carter met with Qatar’s defence minister, Minister of State for Defence Affairs Khalid al-Attiyah, and they discussed mutual security, including the counter-ISIL missions.[xiii]

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US Secretary of State John Kerry meets with NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg prior to the US-NATO bilateral meeting in Brussels on May 19.[xiv] Stoltenberg and Kerry conducted nearly round-the-clock global diplomacy to keep the Coalition on mission, while building bridges for ceasefire negotiations in Syria, but also keeping the broader strategic perspective in mind.

On 24 May, the US DOD announced that Brigadier Karen H. Gibson, deputy commanding general Joint Force Headquarters-Cyber, US Army Cyber Command, had been promoted to Director of Intelligence, Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, based in Kuwait.[xv] That same day, Brigadier General G. Kaiser was made commander, Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. These appointments reflected a long-standing trend of moving intelligence and special forces personnel to CJTF and Afghanistan. Cyber, intelligence, training and battle-space control only increased in significance as the air campaign and ISF training operations expanded during the summer.

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US President Obama photographed here taking notes before the G7 leaders working lunch in Shima City, Japan, 26 May 2016. Russia had been evicted from the G8 following the March 2014 invasion of Crimea. Along with Secretary Kerry, with only half a year left in office, President Obama maintained focus on the counter-ISIL mission and Afghanistan, the two wars that had not ended during his eight years as President.

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June 2, Graduates of the USAF Academy Colorado Springs celebrate. President Obama congratulates graduate in the background.[xvi]

On June 3, US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, during his visit to Singapore, met with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and the two discussed countering terrorism, including ISIL, as well as joint air operations in the Asia-Pacific. Carter thanked the Prime Minister for his aggressive stance on counter-ISIL and anti-piracy (Gulf of Aden) missions.[xvii] The coalition relied on smaller partners and regional actors to handle specific tasks, often outside the main theatre of operations.

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg meeting with French President Francois Hollande on 3 June 2016.[xviii]

On 3 June Army Command Sgt. Major William F. Thetford, command senior enlisted leader for US Special Operations Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa, replaced Army Command Sgt. Major Christopher K. Greca as command senior enlisted advisor for CENTCOM, MacDill AFB.[xix]

On 8 June, US DOD Secretary Ash Carter and Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work held a meeting with Sweden’s Minister of Defense, Peter Hultqvist. Discussion topics included Russian aggression and expanding the counter-ISIL mission. Bob Work later met with the Defense Minister of Montenegro, Milica Pejanovic-Djuisic, thanking the minister for their commitment to Afghanistan.[xx] Also on June 8, Brigadier General Daniel R. Walrath, deputy commanding general (maneuver) 1st Armored Division; and commander Combined Joint Operations Center/Army Forces-Jordan, Operation Inherent Resolve, Jordan, was moved to the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, US Army, Washington DC.[xxi]

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ISW European situation map, showing ISIL attacks between March 25 and July 15, 2016. Turkey’s greater involvement in the Coalition drew a number of ISIL backed attacks.

On 10 June, Brigadier General Aaron M. Prupas, the deputy director of intelligence, US Forces – Afghanistan, also assistant deputy of staff of intelligence to NATO HQ, Operation Resolute Support, was made the director (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance strategy, plans, policy, and force development) CENTCOM, Kabul, Afghanistan, under the Deputy Chief of Staff (ISR), USAF HQ at the Pentagon.[xxii] Brigadier General Aaron replaced Major General Linda R. Urrutia-Varhall who became the director (operations) and the military deputy at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Springfield, Virginia.

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            President Obama at the Department of Finance to give a statement on the Orlando shootings (12 June 2016), following a National Security Council meeting on June 14, 2016. James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, is standing in front of the camera. The Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew are to his left.[xxiii] .[xxiv]

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14 June: NATO Defense Ministers meet in Brussels. US Secretary of Defence Ash Carter meets with Pedro Morenes Eluate, the Spanish Secretary of Defense , and Jeab-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Defense for France.[xxv] Carter also met with Michael Fallon, Britain’s Secretary of State for Defence.[xxvi] Accelerating the ISIL campaign was discussed by all parties. Later, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter met with Fikri Isik, the Turkish Minister of Defense. Carter emphasized Turkey’s critical role in the Counter-ISIL Coalition. Carter also thanked the Minister for his support in the ongoing refugee crisis, and in his commitment to Afghan security.[xxvii] Carter also met with the Secretary of State for the Defence of France, Jean-Yves le Drian.[xxviii]

The next day, June 15, Carter met with General Stepan Poltorak, the Ukrainian Minister of Defense, and confirmed the US and NATO commitment to Ukrainian security, including US non-recognition of Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014.[xxix] On 16 June, Secretary Carter met with Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince and Minister of Defense Mohammed bin Salman. Carter and bin Salman discussed Saudi Arabia’s important role in the counter-ISIL mission, as well as the Saudi operations to counter Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, particularly in Yemen.[xxx]

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Afghanistan situation map for June 30, 2016.[xxxi] ISW map. The long war entered its 15th year in October 2016.

On 17 June, the US Department of Defense released its Afghanistan situation report, “Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan” covering the period December 2015 to May 2016.[xxxii] The report discussed the successes of the counter-ISIL mission in Afghanistan (Islamic State – Khorasan), as well as the ongoing NATO Operation Resolute Support and US led Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. The report, significantly, noted that insurgent violence has led to increased levels of civilian and Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) casualties. The report also highlighted ongoing capability gaps in the ANDSF (although noting that Afghanistan’s aerial capability had increased three times from its 2015 level thanks to the delivering of ground attack aircraft and helicopters), and observed that while the NATO commitment continues to hover around the 7,000 soldier level, the US was significantly short of its 9,800 troop level establishment during the report period. US troop level is expected to fall to 5,500 by January 2017.

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            A video-conference was held between Russian and US DOD personnel on 18 June regarding Russian airstrikes carried out on June 16 that targeted At-Tanf in Syria, where US backed Syrian opposition and counter-ISIL forces were stationed.[xxxiii] At the Pentagon, on 20 June, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter met with Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s Minister of Defense. They discussed regional security concerns, as well as Lieberman’s planned visit to Fort Worth, Texas, where he would see the F-35 JSF production line (Israel will be the first foreign country to receive F-35s).[xxxiv] That same day, Carter issued a statement applauding Polish Minister of National Defense Macierewicz’s decision to deploy 60 special operations forces to Iraq, as well as commit four F-16s to Kuwait for reconnaissance missions.[xxxv] Likewise, Carter issued another statement, also 20 June, thanking Gerry Brownlee, the Minister of Defense of New Zealand, for his commitment to the training mission in Iraq through November 2018.[xxxvi]

            The next day, 21 June, US Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work met with the Dutch Minister of Defense Secretary-General Wim Geerts at the Pentagon, where the two discussed Europe and the counter-ISIL campaign.[xxxvii] On 24 June Ash Carter spoke by telephone with UK State Secretary for Defense Michael Fallon: they discussed the ongoing counter-ISIL mission and US-UK commitment to NATO.[xxxviii]

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US Secretary of State meets with NATO Secretary General for bilateral talks on 27 June 2016, in Brussels.[xxxix] The same day US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter issued a statement congratulating Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi for the progress made securing Fallujah from ISIL control.[xl]

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June 29, 2016: North American leaders summit working lunch at the National Gallery in Ottawa, with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President of Mexico Enrique Pena Nieto. US Secretary of State John Kerry sits to Obama’s right and National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice is to his left.[xli] Canada’s role in the Global Coalition remains complex, with the Liberal government committing 168 special operations forces to Iraq, while continuing to fly reconnaissance and refueling missions.

On June 28 there was a suicide bombing attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport.[xlii] Secretary Carter called Turkish Minister of Defense Fikri Isik to express his condolences.[xliii]

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US President Obama discusses a statement on Afghanistan with Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and General Joseph Dunford, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, July 6, 2016.[xliv]

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NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow meets with the Minister of State for Defence Affairs, Mohamed Ahmed Albowardi Alfalacy, of the United Arab Emirates, 6 July 2016[xlv] The UAE plays a crucial role in the coalition, providing basing and support for US airstrikes, while also committing to the all important training mission.

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8 July 2016, the NATO Summit in Warsaw. Secretary General Stoltenberg visits with NATO Allied Ground Surveillance personnel and their Global Hawk UAV.[xlvi]

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Jens Stoltenberg meets with US President Barack Obama and US Secretary of State John Kerry in Warsaw on 8 July 2016.[xlvii] Operation Resolute Support was the major subject of discussion, with commitments made to sustain the operation through the conclusion of 2016, with financial commitments made to the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces through the 2020 timeframe. It was hoped Afghanistan would be capable of financial responsibility for its security forces by the end of 2024 (the conclusion of the “Transformation Decade” as arranged at the 2012 NATO Chicago Summit).

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Enemy attacks in Afghanistan, January 2014 to May 2016. The figures indicate an overall decline in IED and mine fatalities, but an increase in direct actions.

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8 July 2016, Family Portrait of NATO heads of state, Warsaw Summit.[xlviii] Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom smiles, despite having lost the Brexit Referendum in June. He was to subsequently to resign on July 13. A week after this picture was taken, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, standing in front of Chancellor Merkel, would survive the coup attempt of July 15, 2016.

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9 July 2016, Warsaw: Barack Obama shakes hands with Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Officer, Abdullah Abdullah and Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, the President of Afghanistan. Ash Carter is on the left and Jens Stoltenberg on the right.[xlix] Secretary Carter later met with Turkey’s Defense Minister, Fikri Isik, expressing uniformity on the anti-ISIL mission, and looked forward to meeting again in Washington DC for the July 20-21 Counter-ISIL Defense Ministerial.[l] Carter then left for Baghdad, arriving July 11.

US Defense Secretary Carter met with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi in Baghdad shortly after arriving on 11 July. At this meeting Carter highlighted the success achieved by capture the Qayyarah West airfield. Carter announced that the US intended to deploy another 560 troops to Iraq to build on momentum leading up to the planned assault on Mosul, an arrangement that had been made with CJTF-OIR commander Lt. General Sean MacFarland.[li] Mosul, the plan went, would be attacked from both north and south: in the north by Kurdish Peshmerga forces and in the south by Iraqi Security Forces. Manbij, the strategic hub along the Turkish border between Iraq and Syria, was now surrounded and under intensive aerial bombardment.

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July 15, 2016, President Obama meets with Gerard Araud, French Ambassador to the US, following the ISIS terrorist attack in Nice. US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter called French Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Le Drian to offer his condolences.[lii]

On 19 July US Secretary Carter called Turkey’s Fikri Isik to reiterate his support for the democratically elected government, following the 15 July 2016 coup attempt.[liii]

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Global Coalition to Counter-ISIL Defence Ministerial, chaired by US Secretary of Defence Ash Carter, 20 July 2016, at Joint Base Andrews, outside Washington D.C.[liv] Carter later spoke with French Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Le Drian. Carter expressed gratitude for the decision to deploy France’s Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier to support the CJTF.[lv] Carter also met with the Defense Ministers from Saudi Arabia and Australia, both involved in the training mission in Iraq.

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French (and USN and German) naval forces operating against ISIL.

On 26 July the next video-conference between Russian MOD and US DOD personnel took place.[lvi] On 28 July Brigadier General Terrence J. McKenrick, the commanding general, Brigade Modernization Command, Army Capabilities Integration Center, US Army Training and Doctrine Command, Fort Bliss, Texas, was promoted to deputy commanding general, US Army Central/Third Army, Kuwait.[lvii]

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August 2, 2016. President Obama greets Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore on the White House south lawn. The Prime Minister also met with Secretary Carter for a wreath laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

On 2 August Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Eric D. Neilsen, was moved from the Joint Special Operations Air Component – Central, Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, to become the senior enlisted leader for NATO Special Operations Forces, Supreme HQ Allied Powers Europe, Mons, Belgium; highlighting the close integration between CTJF and NATO special operations.[lviii]

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Russian airstrikes in Syria, July 28 to August 20, 2016. Institute for the Study of War map.[lix]

September 7, 2016: Secretary Carter met with Israeli Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman for a bilateral meeting during the London UN Peacekeeping Defense Ministerial. They discussed regional security and ISIL.[lx] Carter then met with Fikri Isik, Turkey’s Minister of Defense, on September 8. Carter reaffirmed his commitment to Turkey’s security, and assured the minister of US support for anti-ISIL operations along the Turkish border.[lxi]

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ISW situation map for ISIL activity in Turkey the year of 2015-2016.[lxii]

On 16 September, the US President’s National Security Council met. It was noted that at this time in the campaign, 50% of Iraq territory once controlled by ISIL had been recaptured, and that ISIL in Syria was now effectively cut off from the outside world.[lxiii]

The next video-conference between US DOD and Russian MOD liaisons took place on September 14, with another conference held on 22 September following the Russian or Syrian regime airstrikes on a UN aid convoy, disrupting the weeklong ceasefire agreement before the end of September.[lxiv]

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September 20: US President Barack Obama before delivering his final presidential address at the UN General Assembly.[lxv]

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            Stoltenberg attending the UN General Assembly session on 20 September 2016, during his visit to New York.[lxvi]

             On 22 September, Secretary Ash Carter met with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the Pentagon. They discussed US and Australian support for the counter-ISIL mission and the ongoing campaign in Afghanistan, as well as regional security concerns, the recent North Korean nuclear test, and naval developments in the Asia-Pacific.[lxvii]

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            Also on 22 September, the United Kingdom’s Michael Fallon met with Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, who expressed gratitude for the UK’s commitment to the coalition training mission.

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            NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg attends a seminar at the Kennedy School, Harvard, during his visit to the United States, 23 September 2016. NATO and the Coalition took great lengths to explain the importance of the mission to often skeptical populations; the Combined Joint Task Force continued to maintain youtube and twitter pages filled with regular updates on airstrikes and other coalition movements.

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Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Dunford and Secretary Ash Carter state that the coalition has gained momentum in battling ISIL in Syria, September 24, 2016.[lxviii] On September 28, Carter announced that an additional 600 US soldiers were being committed to Iraq, in anticipation of the Mosul offensive.[lxix]

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19 September. CJTF-OIR commander Lt. General Townsend meets US Army Secretary Eric Fanning in Baghdad at the beginning of the Secretary’s tour of US forces in Iraq.

Operations in Transition: Escalation

            The summer of 2016 was a transitional period for the CJTF: while Ramadi had been recaptured at the end of 2015, and Hit was soon to follow (April 2016), with the Mosul – Raqqa corridor squeezed at Sinjar, although Fallujah was still under ISIL control. Much of the air campaign over the past five months was focused on the degrading of ISIL forces in preparation for the expected showdown over the ISIL capitals in Syria and Iraq.

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Two French Mirage 2000Ds refuel over Iraq, April 8, 2016.

In the target information section of the CJTF-OIR strike reports, it is not unusual to see one strike credited with destroying dozens of ISIL fuel trucks, or destroying a cluster of local targets, from tunnels, bridges, rocket vehicles, VIEDs, IEDs and explosives factories, many boats and river craft, medium and heavy machine gun positions, bunkers, communications, HQ, and training facilities, currency mints, oil derricks, pump jacks, well heads, technicals, tactical vehicles, bulldozers, rear-end loaders, recoilless rifles, artillery pieces, mortars, weapons caches, fighting entrenchments, ISIL camera positions, sniper positions, multistory buildings, entire House Borne IEDs (HBIEDs), and some particularly interesting targets such as battle tanks and at least one ISIL controlled drone. A typical example, representative of the dozens of strikes conducted during any given day, are six strikes executed near Qayyarah, on April 5, 2016, destroying an ISIL tactical unit, weapons storage facility, four mortar firing positions, a supply cache, a VBIED production facility, and 13 staging areas.

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Table showing the monthly weapon release figures for one year of the war, February 2015 – 2016. The low figures in the spring of 2015 coincide with the withdrawal of the B-1B bombers for modifications, and subsequent uptick with the arrival of B-52s.[lxx]

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Table showing breakdown of CJTF-OIR strike mission targets for April 2016.[lxxi] Mosul was the most heavily attacked, receiving 137 strikes, nearly twice as many as Mar’a in Syrian, with 70 strikes. Fallujah, Hit and Qayyarah received more than 50 strikes each.

            A huge series of strikes were carried out against ISIL controlled refinery assets near Mosul on 14 and 15 April 2016.[lxxii]

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16 April: airstrikes target a VBEID and ISIL troop barracks near Al Hawl.[lxxiii]

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18 April: coalition strikes destroy ISIL explosives and IED factories at Qayyarah[lxxiv]

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Coalition strikes on April 24, targeting ISIL munitions factories in Fallujah and Sultan Abdallah, fighting positions around Manbij were also attacked.[lxxv] More ISIL infantry positions were engaged outside Fallujah on 25 April.[lxxvi]

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Qayyarah was targeted on 27 April, as was Al Huwayjah.[lxxvii] An HQ facility at Washiyah, Syria, was also destroyed.

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On 28 April an ISIL fueling station outside Mosul was destroyed.[lxxviii] Mar’a was also targeted.[lxxix]

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An ISIL VBIED factory at Al Qam was destroyed on 29 April. Additional VBIEDs were targeted near Kirkuk.[lxxx]

On 4 May 2016, the US Defense Department announced that Special Warfare Operator 1st Class, Charles H. Keating, a US Navy SEAL, had been killed in combat at Tall Usquf Iraq, May 3.[lxxxi] On 8 May, the DoD announced that 1st Lt. David A. Bauders of Seattle Washington, 176th Engineer Company, had been killed while supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, on 6 May at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq due to a non-combat related incident.[lxxxii]

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Weapons facilities at Qayyarah were bombed on May 5.[lxxxiii]

            On 10 May US Special Operations Command carried out a hostage rescue raid in Paktika Province, Afghanistan, freeing Ali Haider Gilani, son of Pakistant’s former Prime Minister, had been held captive for three years by Al Qaeda.[lxxxiv]

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19 May: Snipers in Ar Rutbah are targeted.[lxxxv]

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On 20 May, the ISIS Syrian capital at Ar Raqqah was hit, a huge weapons cache destroyed along with an oil derrick.[lxxxvi] A mortar position at Mar’a was targeted on May 21. Another weapons cache was destroyed on May 22, again near Mar’a.[lxxxvii] Also on 21 May, the US killed Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Mansour in an airstrike in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Mansour had been the Taliban leader since July 2015. He was succeeded by Mullah Haybatullah Akhundzada.

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On 24 May a VBIED was destroyed at Fallujah.[lxxxviii] PGM circled.

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An ISIL HQ building in Mosul was destroyed on 25 May.[lxxxix]

On 23 May, the US DOD announced that Taliban leader Mullah Mansur had been killed in an airstrike carried out along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border on 21 May.[xc] On 28 May, Gunner’s Mate Seaman Connor Alan McQuagge, a 19 yearold from Utah, died of a non-combat related injury while underway in the Red Sea, aboard USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49), supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.[xci]

On 27 May the US conducted an airstrike against Abdullahi Haji Da’ud, an al-Shabaab commander in south-central Somalia. Da’ud was responsible for coordinating militia operations between Somalia, Kenya and Uganda, and had been head of Amniyat, the al-Shabaab intelligence branch.[xcii]

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Another large ISIL VBIED was destroyed at Fallujah on 28 May.[xciii] PGM circled.

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ISIL technical destroyed at Hit on 30 May.[xciv]

An Iraqi Shi'ite fighter fires artillery during clashes with Islamic State militants near Falluja

May 29, Iraq Shiite fighters fire artillery at ISIL controlled Fallujah.[xcv]

As of May 31 2016, 20,131 US military personnel had been wounded and 1,843 killed in Afghanistan since the start of the conflict in October 2001.

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Strike data for June 2016. Manbij, along the strategic M4 route to Aleppo, received 32% of all strikes, over 276 of the 874 strikes conducted that month. Qayyarah accounted for 106 strikes, Mosul and Fallujah another 96 and 80 respectively.

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On 6 June an ISIL oil tanker facility at Mosul was bombed.[xcvi] On 11 June a fuel weighing station at Qayyarah was destroyed as part of the mission to disrupt ISIL oil supplies.[xcvii] Mosul was bombed again on 14 June.

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Another ISIL technical is destroyed near Mar’a, 18 June.[xcviii] An ISIL position is bombed, 21 June, near Mabij.[xcix]

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ISIL technical destroyed near Manbij, 22 June.[c] PGM circled. That day the US DOD reported that Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew J. Clement, 38, had died on 21 June from non-combat injuries sustained while he was deployed to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.[ci]

On 25 June the US conducted strikes against two ISIL commanders near Mosul, killing both: Basim Muhammad Ahmad Sultan al-Bajari, ISIL’s deputy minister of war (and former al Qaeda operative), and Hatim Talib al-Hamundi, ISIL military commander, Mosul.[cii]

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On 26 June, Iraqi forces announced that Fallujah had been fully liberated, ISIS losses estimated at 2,500.[ciii] ISF Counter-Terrorism soldier drives through the streets of Fallujah.

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An ISIL convoy destroyed by coalition airstrikes, June 29, 2016.[civ] An uparmoured dump truck was also destroyed at Abu Kamal the same day.[cv]

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Fleeing ISIL vehicle about to be hit by airstrike (in red) outside Habbaniyah, Iraq, 29 June 2016.[cvi]

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A building complex controlled by fighters is demolished on 30 June 2016 near Manbij. Manbij was the most heavily bombed target for June and August.[cvii]

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Russian airstrikes in Syria between 18 June and 28 June, 2016. ISW map.[cviii]

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Syrian Democratic Forces fighter watches coalition airstrike near Manbij, July 2016.[cix]

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Iraqi Army Aviation M-28 Havoc attack helicopters annihilate an ISIL convoy fleeing Fallujah, July 2016.[cx] The helicopter attacking here is circled.

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3 July 2016: ISIL vehicle destroyed near Manbij.[cxi]

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ISIL controlled building are destroyed on 5 July 2016 near Manbij.[cxii]

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ISIL VBIED moments before destruction by coalition airstrike, outside Bayji, 7 July 2016.[cxiii]

On 9 July, US Forces-Afghanistan killed Umar Khalifa in an airstrike. Khalifa was a leader of the Tariq Gidar Group of the Islamic Sate-Khorasan Province, and responsible for multiple high profile attacks in Pakistan.[cxiv]

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11 July, ISIL artillery piece destroyed near Manbij. PGM circled.[cxv]

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13 July 2016: more buildings targeted in Manbij.

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Buildings in Manbij explode as they are targeted by CJTF-OIR airstrikes, 11 July.[cxvi]

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Rubble in Manbij, 16 July 2016.

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16 July 2016, B-52 refuels from KC-10 Extender, Iraq.[cxvii]

The US DOD announced that 1st Lt. Anais A. Tobar, 25 years old, of Miami, Florida, had died on 18 July in Southwest Asia, in a non-combat related incident. 1st Lt. Tobar had been supporting Operation Inherent Resolve when she was killed.[cxviii]

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Fireball engulfs Manbij neighbourhood on 19 July 2016.[cxix]

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A huge cloud of smoke spirals up from an airstrike on Manbij, 24 July 2016.[cxx] Further strikes were carried on 26 July.

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Al Baghdadi was the subject of airstrikes on 25 July.[cxxi]

On July 26 US forces conducted an airstrike against ISIL-K in Afghanistan, targeting Hafiz Sayed Khan, killing him. Khan was an ISIL emire involved in recruiting and participating in attacks in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province.[cxxii]

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Fireball from coalition airstrike on Manbij, 27 July 2016.[cxxiii]

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ISW map for late July 19-25, showing terrorist activity in Iraq.[cxxiv]

Lt. Col. Flando E. Jackson, USAF, died on 4 August in Southwest Asia from non-combat injuries sustained during support for Operation Inherent Resolve.[cxxv]

m777.JPG

Battery C, 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, Task Force “Strike”, carries out a fire mission with their M777 howitzer in support of Iraqi Security Forces operating at Kara Soar Base, 7 August 2016.[cxxvi] Artillery fire missions are not counted in any of the coalition air campaign strike tallies, nor are the Russian or Syrian regime figures.

strikedataaugust.jpg

CJTF OIR strikes for August 2016. Manbij, close to the Turkish border, continued to be targeted, receiving 144 strikes, more than twice as many as Mosul (61) and more than three times as many as Qayyarah (49). Ar Raqqah, the Islamic State’s capital in Syria, was only struck 14 times, for 3% of all strikes. 522 strikes were conducted in August.

On 1 August the US conducted an airstrike against Sirte, Libya, stating that the airstrike had been requested by the Libyan government to counter ISIL forces.[cxxvii]

august14sultan

August 9: Coalition airstrikes destroy ISIL command and control node near Sultan Abdallah, Iraq.[cxxviii]

A terrorist attack was carried out in Southern Turkey on 10 August.[cxxix] On 14 August the DOD announced that Staff Sgt. Christopher A Wilbur, US Army, 36 years old, died from non-combat injuries on 12 August, in Kandahar, Afghanistan while supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.[cxxx]

On 13 August, Syrian Democratic Forces announced that they had occupied Manbij.[cxxxi] On 15 August the US DOD announced the liberation of Manbij.[cxxxii]

On August 23rd one US soldier, Staff Sgt. Matthew V. Thompson, 28 years old, of Irvine California, was killed and another wounded, along with 6 Afghan Security Forces soldiers in an IED blast in Helmand province.[cxxxiii]

August25factory.gif

Coalition airstrike destroys an ISIL VBIED factory near Mosul on 25 August.[cxxxiv]

turkey01.jpg

Turkish APCs head towards Jarablus on August 25. Turkey began its armed intervention in the Syrian Civil War on 24 August, taking aim against both Kurdish and ISIL fighters.

The delicate diplomatic situation between Turkey and the Kurdish YPG forces in Manbij was redressed somewhat when Kurdish forces withdrew from Manbij on 25 August.[cxxxv]

On 30 August the US conducted an airstrike against Abu Muhammad Al-Adani, near Al Bab, Syria. Al-Adani, who was killed, was an ISIL spokesman and recruiter, responsible for organizing lone-wolf attacks.[cxxxvi] Another strike, carried out 7 September against Raqqa in Syria, killed Wa’il Adil Hasan Salman al-Fayad (“Dr. Wa’il), a senior ISIL leader, information minister, and a member of the Senior Shura Council. Wa’il was credited with overseeing production of the Islamic State’s gruesome propaganda videos.[cxxxvii]

The DOD announced that 1st Lt. Jeffrey D. Cooper, 25 years old, had died September 10 in Kuwait from non-combat-related injuries.[cxxxviii] On September 9, US Air Force Chief of Staff, General David Goldein stated that the air campaign was gaining momentum.[cxxxix]

airborne.gif

11 September 2016, Task Force “Strike”, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, trains with 15th Iraqi Army Division soldiers during their advise and assist mission in support of CJTF-OIR in Kuwait.[cxl]

trainingbrit.jpg

13 September, 7RAR (7th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment) soldiers train with ISF at Taji.

On 16 September Warrant Officer Travis R. Tamayo, 32, of Brownsville, Texas died from a non-combat related incident in Abu Dhabi, UAE, while supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.[cxli]

On 17 September, the DOD announced that it may have struck Syrian regime forces near Dayr Az Zawr.[cxlii] On 20 September the US Navy announced the death of Aviation Boatswain’s Mate, Airman, Devon M. Faulkner, 24, who died from non-combat related injuries while supporting Operation Odyssey Lightning, the US campaign in Libya.[cxliii]

ERicFanning.gif

21 September, 2016. US Secretary of the Army, Eric Fanning, takes photographs with Task Force Strike soldiers during his visit to the Combined Joint Task Force.[cxliv]

ISF forces raised the Iraqi flag over Sharqat on 23 September, liberating the city.[cxlv]

CJTFtraining.jpg

Infographic provided on the CJTF OIR website showing total training establishment as of September 24.[cxlvi]

CtNx8heWAAEgosG.jpg

September 25, 2016. CJTFOIR commander, Lt. General Stephen J. Townsend met with XVIII Airborne Corps soldiers at the Qayyarah airfield, Iraq.[cxlvii] XVIII Airborne Corps had previously led the coalition mission in Afghanistan, completing its tour there in December 2014. Townsend, commanding XVIII Airborne Corps, replaced Lt. General Sean MacFarland, III Armored Corps, shortly after 10 August, 2016. Townsend is expected to oversee the CJTF-OIR assaults on Mosul (Operation Conquest) and Raqqa, the ISIL capitals in Iraq and Syria. Russian airstrikes against Aleppo dramatically accelerated at the end of September, as Syrian regime forces prepared to enter the city in what many expect will be the decisive battle of the Syrian Civil War.[cxlviii]

tornado.jpg

RAF Tornado with 500 lb/230 kg Paveway IV laser-guided bombs on a strike mission, September 23, 2016.[cxlix]

Conclusions

F4.JPG

USAF F-4C Wild Weasel flying over North Vietnam, December 1972.[cl]

During Operation Linebacker I between May and October 1972, 150,000 tons of munitions were dropped on North Vietnam; probably more than 130 kilotons: 300 million lbs.[cli] 40,000 tons were dropped on the area around An Loc between April and June 1972, while B-52s, flying 2,700 sorties, dropped 57,000 tons in Quang Tri Province. 18,000 sorties were flown in Military Region I, including Hue and Quang Tri.[clii] The B-52 Operation Linebacker II raids over eleven days in December 1972 produced 729 sorties and more than 20,000 tons dropped: 40 million lbs. One million tons of bombs were dropped during Operation Rolling Thunder, March 1965 to November 1968, the equivalent of 40 B-52s dropping full payloads, 800 tons, per day.[cliii]

B52.JPG

B-52 refueling over Southeast Asia, 1967.[cliv] Operation Arc Light preceded Linebacker. B-52Ds could deliver 40,000 lbs of bombs. In the 1990s, the B-52G delivered 66,000 lbs of bombs, and modernized B-52Hs can carry 70,000 lbs, a typical strike package consisting of eighteen 1000 lb mk83 bombs.

In Iraq and Syria the tempo of the air campaign remains enormous, with 17,369 weapons releases for the first seven months of 2016, with an average of almost 2,500 launches per month. In December 2015, 21,113 sorties yielded 715 strikes that delivered 3,139 releases (often described as “bombs dropped”). That year a total of 21,113 sorties were flown. Of those, at least 9,914 had resolved in a weapons launch, with a number of estimates putting the total number of bombs dropped and guided missiles fired (presumably excluding cannon expended, although cannon attacks are included in the strike figures), at over 20,000 for 2015. For the first seven months of 2016, the figure was 12,350 sorties, with 6,575 of those sorties resulting in a weapons launch.

kcl135.JPG

KC-135 Stratotanker flies over New Jersey on 31 August 2016.[clv] KC-135 and other refueling assets conducted 46,535 aircraft refuelings as of 31 July 2016, year to date.[clvi]

In April 2016 there were 2,582 weapons releases, then 2,341 coalition aircraft weapon releases in May.[clvii] There were 3,167 in June (almost double the quantity of launches in June the previous year),[clviii] and in July 2016 the B-52s began to operate in Afghanistan. In Iraq and Syria, 2,411 weapons were launched that month.[clix] There have been numerous reports that US stockpiles are decreasing, with the munitions industry struggling to keep up with demand for JDAMs, 1000 lb laser guided bombs, and other precision guided ordinance. The coalition is undoubtedly dropping many hundreds of thousands of lbs of munitions on Iraq and Syria, perhaps more than a million of lbs, every month. Keep in mind that none of these figures include Syrian regime airstrikes, or Russian airstrikes in Syria.

B1B2.JPG

In February 2016, Rockwell’s B-1B Lancers, comprising the bulk of the USAF bomber force, and responsible for dropping 1/3 of total ordinance between July and January 2015,[clx] were withdrawn from the CJTF-OIR theatre for systems, weapons (JASSM-ER) and cockpit upgrades. Each B-1 can deliver 125,000 lbs of ordinance, with a typical load of 75,000 lbs of bombs not uncommon. This B-1B, with F-16 and F-15K escort, flies over South Korea on 21 September 2016, UN International Peace Day, in a show of resolve following the latest North Korean nuclear test.[clxi] The B-52s and B-1Bs have now been integrated into the USAF Global Strike Command, and will no doubt be deployed together in the expected air war finale, possibly before the end of the year.

[i] http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/photos_134215.htm

[ii] http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/photos_130212.htm

[iii] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/740029/general-officer-assignments

[iv] https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/imagecache/gallery_img_full/image/image_file/vpotus_baghdad.jpg

[v] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/745287/general-officer-announcement

[vi] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/745154/statement-by-secretary-of-defense-ash-carter-on-lt-gen-thomas-waldhauser

[vii] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/747626/statement-by-secretary-of-defense-ash-carter-on-norways-decision-to-expand-role

[viii] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/751030/general-officer-announcements

[ix] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/751477/readout-of-secretary-carters-meeting-with-danish-minister-of-defense-peter-chri

[x] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/757136/statement-by-pentagon-press-secretary-peter-cook-on-us-russia-video-conference

[xi] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/759621/statement-by-secretary-of-defense-ash-carter-on-belgiums-expanded-role-in-the-c

[xii] http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/photos_130941.htm

[xiii]

[xiv] http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/photos_131090.htm

[xv] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/780277/general-officer-assignments

[xvi] https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/imagecache/gallery_img_full/image/image_file/_b4a8635.jpg

[xvii] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/790166/readout-of-secretary-carters-meeting-with-singaporean-prime-minister-lee-hsien

[xviii] http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/photos_131963.htm

[xix] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/791045/command-senior-enlisted-leader-assignment

[xx] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/794803/readout-of-deputy-secretary-of-defense-bob-works-meeting-with-montenegrin-minis

[xxi] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/794218/general-officer-assignments

[xxii] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/796688/general-officer-assignments

[xxiii] https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/imagecache/gallery_img_full/image/image_file/2_p061416ps-0381.jpg

[xxiv] https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/imagecache/gallery_img_full/image/image_file/p061516ps-0402.jpg

[xxv] http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/photos_132431.htm

[xxvi] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/799360/readout-of-secretary-carters-meeting-with-british-secretary-of-state-for-defens

[xxvii] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/798513/readout-of-secretary-carters-meeting-with-turkish-minister-of-defense-fikri-ik

[xxviii] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/799360/readout-of-secretary-carters-meeting-with-british-secretary-of-state-for-defens

[xxix] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/799690/readout-of-secretary-of-defense-ash-carters-meeting-with-ukrainian-minister-of

[xxx] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/801790/readout-of-secretary-of-defense-ash-carters-meeting-with-kingdom-of-saudi-arabi

[xxxi] http://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/APR-JUN%202016%20AFG%20Threat%20Assessment%20Map%20PDF%20final%20%281%29_0.pdf

[xxxii] http://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/Enhancing_Security_and_Stability_in_Afghanistan-June_2016.pdf

[xxxiii] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/803046/statement-by-pentagon-press-secretary-peter-cook-on-us-russia-video-conference

[xxxiv] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/804931/readout-of-secretary-carters-meeting-with-israeli-minister-of-defense-avigdor-l

[xxxv] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/805485/statement-by-secretary-carter-on-polands-decision-to-expand-campaign-against-is

[xxxvi] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/805527/statement-by-secretary-of-defense-ash-carter-on-new-zealands-decision-to-extend

[xxxvii] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/808727/readout-of-deputy-secretary-works-meeting-with-dutch-minister-of-defense-secret

[xxxviii] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/812022/readout-from-secretary-carters-call-with-uk-state-secretary-for-defense-michael

[xxxix] http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/photos_132812.htm

[xl] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/814822/statement-from-secretary-carter-on-fallujah

[xli] https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/imagecache/gallery_img_full/image/image_file/2_p062916ps-0719.jpg

[xlii] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/775865/readout-of-secretary-carters-meeting-with-qatari-minister-of-state-for-defensege/image_file/p062816ps-0823.jpg

[xliii] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/819791/readout-of-secretary-carters-call-with-turkish-minister-of-defense-fikri-ik

[xliv] https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/imagecache/gallery_img_full/image/image_file/pod1-p070616ps-0128.jpg

[xlv] http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/photos_133044.htm

[xlvi] http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/photos_133039.htm

[xlvii] http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/photos_133048.htm

[xlviii] http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/photos_133042.htm

[xlix] http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/photos_133060.htm

[l] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/832439/readout-of-secretary-carters-meeting-with-turkish-minister-of-defense-fikri-iik

[li] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/832829/defense-secretary-commends-iraqi-forces-announces-new-accelerants-to-combat-isi

[lii] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/840876/readout-of-secretary-carters-call-with-french-minister-of-defense-jean-yves-le

[liii] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/850006/readout-of-secretary-carters-call-with-turkish-minister-of-defense-fikri-iik

[liv] http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/photos_134215.htm

[lv] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/850679/readout-of-secretary-carters-meeting-with-french-minister-of-defense-jean-yves

[lvi] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/858304/statement-by-pentagon-press-secretary-peter-cook-on-us-russia-video-conference

[lvii] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/879127/general-officer-assignments

[lviii] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/885684/command-senior-enlisted-leader-assignment

[lix] http://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/10%20-%2029%20AUG%20Russian%20Airstrikes.pdf

[lx] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/936475/readout-of-secretary-carters-meeting-with-israeli-minister-of-defense-avigdor-l

[lxi] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/937226/readout-of-secretary-carters-meeting-with-turkish-minister-of-national-defense

[lxii] http://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/ISIS%20Turkey%20Map.pdf

[lxiii] https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/09/16/readout-presidents-national-security-council-meeting-counter-isil

[lxiv] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/946209/statement-by-pentagon-press-secretary-peter-cook-on-us-russia-video-conference

[lxv] https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/imagecache/gallery_img_full/image/image_file/p092016ps-0057.jpg

[lxvi] http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/photos_135173.htm

[lxvii] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/953167/readout-of-secretary-of-defense-ash-carters-meeting-with-australias-prime-minis

[lxviii] https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Cs-3JXqUsAA8Fmv.jpg

[lxix] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/958052/statement-from-secretary-of-defense-ash-carter-on-additional-support-to-iraqi-c

[lxx] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2016/03/21/u-s-air-war-against-isis-enters-new-phase-but-the-fight-for-mosul-is-coming/

[lxxi] http://www.inherentresolve.mil/Portals/1/Documents/Strike%20Releases/2016/04April/20160407%20Strike%20Release%20Final.pdf?ver=2016-04-07-084253-203

[lxxii] http://www.inherentresolve.mil/Portals/1/Documents/Strike%20Releases/2016/04April/20160415%20Strike%20Release%20Final.pdf?ver=2016-04-15-081540-793

[lxxiii] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBXH_2Vh2y0

[lxxiv] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGQ1dwLfyE4

[lxxv] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Um2cTjCsatI

[lxxvi] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nulyzL6jwqg

[lxxvii] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdE-ZIFgLds

[lxxviii] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgqJuGGKi9Y

[lxxix] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4YdRQ0iiWE

[lxxx] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Unnu81Emvuw

[lxxxi] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/751070/department-of-defense-identifies-navy-casualty

[lxxxii] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/754273/dod-identifies-army-casualty

[lxxxiii] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HW3y49ULreY

[lxxxiv] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/756104/statement-by-secretary-of-defense-ash-carter-on-hostage-rescue-in-afghanistan

[lxxxv] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwelYG6Q-94

[lxxxvi] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSkdBnzkVQQ

[lxxxvii] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXzUH0T7fqE

[lxxxviii] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaYboMzvXPc

[lxxxix] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9H6JEesdcK0

[xc] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/778259/statement-by-pentagon-press-secretary-peter-cook-on-us-airstrike-against-taliba ; http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/778380/statement-by-secretary-of-defense-ash-carter-on-us-airstrike-against-taliban-le

[xci] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/784079/dod-identifies-navy-casualty

[xcii] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/788062/statement-by-pentagon-press-secretary-peter-cook-on-us-airstrike-in-somalia

[xciii] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aH4X-EGtDYo

[xciv] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtjtCn896yU

[xcv] http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-falluja-idUSKCN0YL1B0

[xcvi] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvnMY7u026c

[xcvii] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kr1eoi94es

[xcviii] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Z04I8iCHcw

[xcix] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vO53IUFXols

[c] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzZyusGFTSs

[ci] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/810435/dod-identifies-navy-casualty

[cii] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/823506/statement-by-pentagon-press-secretary-peter-cook-on-strike-targeting-isil-milit

[ciii] http://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/1.727142

[civ] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxBpqNbvuJs

[cv] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCnrlEeQlwA

[cvi] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXb1GSDxeSA

[cvii] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuHeeLWUmLQ

[cviii] http://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-airstrikes-syria-june-3-28-2016

[cix] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lqJ89GgiRs

[cx] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eM4TGOJgon4

[cxi] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPPPybddQ0A

[cxii] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yx3emfVNoN8

[cxiii] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iby9R5p1MAc

[cxiv] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/836651/statement-from-pentagon-press-secretary-peter-cook-on-death-of-umar-khalifa

[cxv] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEHu2ZYIDPw

[cxvi] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pY1og3vuO4M

[cxvii] https://www.sofmag.com/barksdale-airmen-continue-b-52-mission-against-isis/

[cxviii] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/849496/dod-identifies-air-force-casualty

[cxix] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSiHbRUy6WI

[cxx] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvBofL5Tgtg

[cxxi] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKVk2h0xcps

[cxxii] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/913820/statement-by-deputy-press-secretary-gordon-trowbridge-on-strike-targeting-an-is

[cxxiii] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTc8jV4MJjw

[cxxiv] http://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-airstrikes-syria-june-3-28-2016

[cxxv] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/906735/dod-identifies-air-force-casualty

[cxxvi] http://www.inherentresolve.mil/News/Article/954941/coalition-continues-counter-isil-progress-across-iraq-syria/

[cxxvii] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/881794/statement-by-pentagon-press-secretary-peter-cook-on-us-air-strike-in-libya

[cxxviii] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bsawnnI4sQ

[cxxix] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/911063/statement-from-secretary-of-defense-ash-carter-on-attacks-in-turkey

[cxxx] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/914092/dod-identifies-army-casualty

[cxxxi] http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-islamic-state-idUSKCN10N178

[cxxxii] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/914947/statement-by-secretary-of-defense-ash-carter-on-the-liberation-of-manbij

[cxxxiii] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/923444/statement-by-secretary-of-defense-ash-carter-on-us-casualties-in-afghanistan ; http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/924303/dod-identifies-army-casualty

[cxxxiv] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2eQSmoK99Rs

[cxxxv] http://www.wsj.com/articles/turkey-send-more-tanks-into-syria-as-kurds-pull-out-of-manbij-1472129794

[cxxxvi] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/930843/statement-by-pentagon-press-secretary-peter-cook-on-precision-airstrike-targeti ; http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/941733/statement-from-pentagon-press-secretary-peter-cook-on-strike-against-isil-senio

[cxxxvii] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/946983/statement-from-pentagon-press-secretary-peter-cook-on-airstrike-against-isil-se

[cxxxviii] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/940436/dod-identifies-army-casualty

[cxxxix] https://www.airforcetimes.com/articles/fight-against-isis-gaining-momentum-goldfein-says-on-npr

[cxl] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ac62VSqMSc0

[cxli] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/947846/dod-identifies-army-casualty

[cxlii] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/947848/statement-by-pentagon-press-secretary-peter-cook-on-coalition-airstrike-in-syria

[cxliii] http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases/News-Release-View/Article/951831/department-of-defense-identifies-navy-casualty

[cxliv] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNvMQfSMzX0

[cxlv] https://twitter.com/OIRSpox/status/779367961266098176

[cxlvi] https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CtNGQ6BWcAAB-SA.jpg

[cxlvii] https://twitter.com/CJTFOIR/status/780092970074791936

[cxlviii] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/10/01/john-kerry-suggests-syrian-elections-include-assad-as-hospitals/

[cxlix] https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CtEZ6ZvWYAApNza.jpg

[cl] http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/Upcoming/Photos.aspx?igphoto=2000558442

[cli] https://t.co/VuTIIKOYv2

[clii] Drew Middleton, Air War Vietnam, Arno Press, New York Times Company, New York, 1978.

[cliii] Karnow, Stanley, Vietnam: A History, p. 468

[cliv] http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/Upcoming/Photos.aspx?igphoto=2000270836

[clv] http://www.af.mil/News/ArticleDisplay/tabid/223/Article/938871/af-week-in-photos.aspx

[clvi] http://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/features/2014/0814_iraq/docs/Airpower_31_July_2016.pdf

[clvii] http://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/features/2014/0814_iraq/docs/Airpower_31_May_2016.pdf

[clviii] http://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/features/2014/0814_iraq/docs/Airpower_30_June_2016.pdf

[clix] http://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/features/2014/0814_iraq/docs/Airpower_31_July_2016.pdf

[clx] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2016/03/21/u-s-air-war-against-isis-enters-new-phase-but-the-fight-for-mosul-is-coming/

[clxi] http://www.af.mil/News/Photos.aspx?igphoto=2001638865#.V-k6nlNUE0E.twitter

Armour Tactics at the Battle of 73 Easting, 26 February 1991

Tank tactics at the Battle of 73rd Easting: February 26, 1991.

Introduction

            Two days into the coalition ground war in Kuwait and Iraq, Phase IV of Operation Desert Storm,[i] the armour of Third Army’s VII Corps attacked Iraq’s Republican Guard and other armour brigades in a series of battles, forty-one hours in duration, that commenced with the Battle at 73 Easting.[ii] After crossing into Iraq on 24 February, the Coalition’s armoured and airborne forces raced across the desert to locate and engage Iraq’s Republican Guard, known to be holding positions near the border with Kuwait. On February 26th, VII Corps’ mechanized units encountered the Republican Guard and three of its own mechanized divisions, deployed to protect the flank of Iraq’s withdrawal corridor through Basra. Keeping this route open was crucial, as was closing it to prevent Iraq’s Army from escaping.[iii]

M-1A1 Abrams main battle tanks of the 3rd Armored Division move out on a mission during Operation Desert Storm.

US 3rd Armor crosses the Iraqi desert.

The actions occurred on the afternoon, and evening of 26th February, 1991, around the 73rd easting grid coordinate, near Objective Norfolk west of the Kuwait-Iraq border. When President Bush’s ultimatum of February 23rd expired, the Coalition launched its massive offensive, with the expectation of a confrontation with Iraq’s Republican Guard shortly to follow. The ground phase of the campaign commenced on the 24th, with the advance of VII (armour) and XVIII (airborne) Corps through the desert, combined with Joint Forces Command-North & East, and Marine Forces Central Command, operations to secure Kuwait and Kuwait City.[iv]

Although the battle that started at 73 Easting continued on the 27th and engulfed components from the Republican Guard’s Medina, Adnan and Hammurabi Divisions, and the remainder of the 12th Armored Division, this post examines primarily the tactical and operational circumstances of the Battle at 73 Easting between VII Corps and the Tawakalna Division, on 26th February.[v]

The battle has generated significant interest amongst scholars and soldiers alike as a case study concerning the influence of technology and training on operations and tactics, including the role of air power and close air support prior to land operations; the significance of weather and environmental friction, and the importance of battlefield intelligence and robust command and control to prevent blue-on-blue incidents. The one-sided nature of the engagement has unsettled analysts and military historians as to the deceptive role played by any one of these elements.[vi] The Battle of 73 Easting was the first salvo in the last major tank battle of the Cold War, indeed, what turned out to be the largest tank battle since the Battle of Kursk in July 1943.[vii] This post looks at the tactical movements during the opening phase of battle through a narrative, and the conclusion addresses the historiographical question of the tactical lessons of the battle.

 iraqi disposition

Disposition of Iraq’s Army at the start of the ground war, 24 February 1991.[viii]

iraq

Disposition of forces.

Iraq deployed 26 of its infantry divisions along its Saddam Line, and supported these with 9 mechanized divisions, with the 8 Republican Guard divisions acting as a mobile reserve. The Republican Guard had been formed in the 1970s and expanded during the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-8 with the recruitment of college educated soldiers. By 1990 the Republican Guard comprised 3 armoured divisions and 5 infantry divisions. The Tawakalna Division, the main antagonist of VII Corps on February 26th, was composed of 220 T-72s and 278 Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs), and was commanded by Major General Salah Aboud Mahmoud. The division had been moved to the west of the Iraq Petroleum Saudi Arabia (IPSA) pipeline road, roughly 80 miles from Kuwait City.[ix]

The Coalition’s Third Army, to which VII Corps was attached, published its programme of operations on 5 January: Operation Plan 001 which ordered VII Corps to, “Conduct main attack in zone to penetrate Iraqi defenses and destroy RGFC [Republican Guard Forces Command] … in zone.”[x] XVIII Airborne Corps would cover the 260 kilometers to the Euphrates, and VII Corps, with the heaviest concentration of armour, would move on Al Basrah where Iraq’s Republican Guard was deployed.[xi] A US Army heavy brigade was a formidable force, containing up to 3 battalions of M1A1 tanks (116 total) and another battalion of 54 Bradleys plus scout, mortar, air-defence and support vehicles. Formed into a 22,000 soldier division, the unit covered a frontage of 25-45 kilometers, with a depth of 80-150 kilometers.[xii]

100 hour war

Operation Desert Storm: The 100 hour ground campaign.[xiii]

3_AD_Iraq

3rd Armored Division tanks

            Battle Narrative

            

Coalition1

Initial Coalition movements, G-day, 24 February.[xiv]

At 2:30 pm on 24 February, VII Corps started its drive to the Euphrates. Small groups of the enemy were encountered and destroyed, and prisoners were captured from overrun outposts. Almost all but 200 members of Iraq’s 110th Infantry Brigade surrendered when their position was overrun by US armour.[xv] Unfortunate friendly fire incidents raised concern amongst Army leadership. An entire division of artillery was assembled from five brigades of M109A2 155mm self-propelled howitzers and rocket launchers in preparation for supporting the advance the following day.[xvi] Meanwhile, the night of the 24th, General Salah Aboud Mahmoud issued orders to redeploy two brigades from Iraq’s 12th Armoured Division to support the Tawakalna Division.[xvii] By the end of the first day, the Coalition offensive had secured 13,000 prisoners at the cost of 8 combat dead and 27 WIA.[xviii]

day2

G+1, 25 February.[xix]

The drive was continued on 25 February, as the VII Corps forward elements encountered scouts from the Republican Guard divisions, destroying a number of Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFVs) in the process. General Schwarzkopf (CENTCOM) urged Lt. General John Yeosock (Third Army), to put pressure on VII Corps commander, Lt. General Frederick M. Franks, to accelerate his advance.[xx] Delays were caused when prisoners were taken or the tanks had to stop to refuel. Otherwise, the T-55 tanks and groups of infantry deployed to screen the heavier elements positioned closer to Kuwait, were brushed aside without much resistance. American helicopter gunships engaged T-55 tanks from Iraq’s 26th Infantry Division. The deadliest Scud attack of the war, in terms of military casualties, occurred on 25 February when an IRBM fired at Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, hit an American barracks and killed 28 soldiers, wounding 100 more.[xxi]

It was now the morning of February 26th and the leading elements of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment (ACR) were tired, having slept, still in their Nuclear Biological Chemical (NBC) suits, for only a few hours in three days, and the days before had been spent rehearsing under an ever increasing tempo of operations. Worse, the tank formations were facing adverse weather conditions, including oil-rain, which was limiting strategic reconnaissance.[xxii] The enemy had so far put up only sporadic resistance from isolated vehicles and strongpoints, but was certain to have massed large formations of tanks and artillery nearby the Basra corridor. In fact, the Tawakalna commander was now aware that he faced a large Coalition force, including American armour, and had prepared reconnaissance positions (no more than 20 tanks and 40 IFVs) to provide information on the American advance.[xxiii] The division’s three heavy brigades, the 18th, 29th, and 9th were positioned to cover the IPSA road. The Tawakalna line also included the 37th Armoured Brigade, and the remains of the 9th and 50th brigades. [xxiv]

G2

G+2, 26 February, defeating the Republican Guard, Kuwait City is secured.[xxv]

destruction

Battle of 73 Easting, US armour attacks the Republican Guard Forces Command (RGFC).[xxvi]

At 8:30 am, Ghost Troop, 2d ACR scouts, engaged and destroyed an Iraqi troop carrier from the Tawakalna Division.[xxvii] At 10 am, Eagle Troop was maneuvering into position through the fog.[xxviii] Lt. Petschek, commanding Eagle Troop’s scout platoon of six Bradleys and 30 soldiers, deployed forward, with Lt. Timothy Gauthier’s third platoon scouts in close contact with Fox Troop to the north. Lt. Michael Hamilton and Jeffrey DeStefano had two tank platoons positioned behind the scouts to support them. At this point, Staff Sergeant Patterson, Eagle Troop, reported contact with three enemy MTLBs (Soviet Multi-Purpose Tracked Vehicles).

Ghost Troop Bradleys quickly destroyed two more of the enemy APCs (Armoured Personnel Carriers), scouting elements of the Tawakalna Division. Captain H. R. McMaster, in his command M1A1, engaged and destroyed the third MTLB before it could escape, gunner Staff Sergeant Craig Koch hitting the APC with a HEAT round at over 2 kms distance.[xxix] By 10 am the rain had cleared, but only to produce a thick fog and low clouds. Eagle Troop was now ordered to move south of Ghost Troop, and tie in with Iron Troop of 3rd Squadron. 2nd Squadron’s operations officer, Major Douglas MacGregor, assured McMaster that Eagle Troop would be in the lead when, “contact with the Republican Guard was imminent”. At 12 pm the Troop was leading the squadron’s movements towards the 60 easting.[xxx] The Troop was ordered to stop again at 1 pm, and prepare defensive positions, during which they again refueled their vehicles.

sand

sand2

Sandstorms encountered in the Second Gulf War: 5th Marines on 26 March 2003, and a V Corps Humvee.[xxxi]

The Left Flank

A sandstorm now obscured visibility as the American forces approached the Iraqi positions.[xxxii] The Troops pressed forward, and at 3 pm, encountered and destroyed 3 enemy tanks.[xxxiii] Between 3:15 and 3:25, McMaster’s Eagle Troop was ordered to push to the 70th Easting, and fix the location of the Republican Guard forces.[xxxiv] Within 15 minutes, Eagle Troop came under fire from Iraqi artillery and infantry occupying buildings at the 69th Easting. These were the forward elements of the 18th Mechanized Brigade. Enemy air-burst artillery landed amidst Lt. Petschek’s scout platoon, causing them to close their hatches.[xxxv] The M1s (Abrams tanks), and M3s (Bradley cavalry vehicles) returned fire and pushed forward, despite incoming Iraqi artillery.[xxxvi] At 3:56 Staff Sergeant Jon McReynolds (3rd platoon) passed an Iraqi bunker whose four occupants quickly surrendered when McReynolds and Sergeant Wallace, and Private First Class Robert Sanchez, dismounted and confronted them.[xxxvii] At 4:07 Eagle Troop found the Republican Guard main force, in the form of dug-in T-72 tanks. Ghost Troop’s 1st Lt. Keith Garwick, commanding a 3rd Squadron Bradley platoon, was engaged in an intense firefight at 4:42 pm, in which a T-72 company counter-attacked their position, and by 5 pm the Bradley’s had destroyed 9 APCs and were engaging enemy infantry.[xxxviii] Also at 5 pm the Iraqis opened a counter-barrage on Ghost Troop, with rounds landing near Bradley G-16 obscuring the sight of 23-year-old gunner Sergeant Nels A. Moller, and within seconds a tank shell hit the Bradley’s turret and destroyed it, killing Moller, while the remaining crewmen escaped to nearby Bradley G-15.[xxxix] PFC Jeff Pike, 21-years-old and the driver of Captain Sartiano’s command M1A1, believed their gunner now destroyed the responsible enemy T-55, although it was impossible to confirm.[xl] It was now just after 6 pm, and the sandstorm reappeared with intensity: soon visibility was limited to a mere 50 yards.[xli] The Republican Guard attacked in waves of tanks, and Ghost Troop was unsupported by coalition air forces, although it was backed by powerful regimental artillery.

column

American Mechanized column.

Meanwhile, north of 2d ACR, at 4 pm, Captain Gerald Davie of Alpha Troop, 4/7 Cavalry, 3rd Armd Division, was moving as part of a compact, 27 kilometer wide formation of two brigades, supported by divisional artillery and followed by the 4th Battalion of the 34th Armored Regiment.[xlii] When it arrived at the 73rd Easting, Alpha Troop’s 3rd platoon (6 Bradleys) reported Iraqi BMPs (Soviet IFVs) and infantry in front of them, and 2nd platoon, with another 7 Bradleys deployed and opened fire with 25mm cannon. Captain Davie, in 2nd platoon, “could see tracer rounds streaking across the battlefield in both directions. He could see small explosions as the 25-mm rounds impacted on the BMPs. Through his thermal sights, Davie could see more vehicles in the distance.”[xliii] Although they could only see a few vehicles abreast of him, due to the storm, the platoons continued to advance, and although Captain Davie did not realize it, was now moving into the sights of T-72 tanks: obscured by the weather and only 300 or 600 meters away. Alpha Troop encountered enemy infantry at 75 meters and soon Iraqi artillery began hitting their position. Within moments Alpha Troop was in a major engagement with Republican Guard tanks. Bradley A-24 was destroyed and Staff Sergeant Kenneth Gentry, despite the efforts of medics deployed by A-25 and A-26, died of his wounds. The Bradleys began to engage the enemy T-72s with TOW missiles. A-33 was hit by heavy machine gun fire, wounding its commander.

t-72

Destroyed Tawakalna Division T-72.[xliv]

With 1st platoon acting as a diversion, 2nd and 3rd platoons withdrew under fire. Davies was also under friendly-fire from elements of the 2nd ACR and 4th battalion, 34th Regiment. As A-36 withdrew, it was hit by small arms gunfire, knocking out the vehicle’s transmission. As A-36’s occupants were about to be picked up by A-31, an M1A1 fired at A-36, showering the Bradley’s driver with shrapnel. The wounded man was retrieved and A-31 moved westward, when it was struck twice by armour-penetrating sabot rounds, neither wounding any of the occupants. However, Sergeant Edwin Kutz, gunner of A-22, was killed when the Bradley was hit by a tank round. Alpha Troop accelerated its withdrawal, deploying a smokescreen and moving west at thirty miles per hour.[xlv] Alpha Troop had two KIA and 12 WIA with three Bradleys out of commission and another four with various degrees of damage.

Meanwhile, to the south of Alpha and Ghost Troops, the tank platoons of Eagle Troop advanced, crossing a minefield, and engaging the enemy. McMaster’s command tank destroyed a T-72 at 4:18, and by 4:22 a total of 9 Iraqi T-72s had been destroyed, and the advance continued.[xlvi] Within forty minutes of joining battle, Eagle Troop had destroyed 37 T-72s and 32 other vehicles. [xlvii]With many Iraqi tanks destroyed, McMaster pressed forward until he reached the 73rd Easting, radioing when asked why he was passing the 70th Easting: “I can’t stop. We’re still in contact, Tell them I’m sorry.” At 4:40, with as many as 17 more T-72s in sight, but out of range, Eagle Troop halted its advance.[xlviii]

            Iron Troop, to the south of Eagle Troop, attacked the fortified positions Eagle Troop had by-passed, and destroyed a number of T-72s and BMPs, while support from Apache helicopters neutralized the enemy’s artillery to a depth of 12 kilometers beyond the 73rd Easting.[xlix] At 4 pm, 3d Brigade of 1st Armored Division, and 2nd Brigade, 3rd Armored Division were engaged in an air and artillery battle with Iraqi forces. The 3d Brigade called in A-10 Thunderbolt II attacks, and the 2nd Brigade engaged the enemy in-front of them with artillery. Progress was slow, and despite the M1A1 thermal sights, visibility was limited to less than two kilometers by the sand and rain.[l]

bunker

1st Cavalry trooper prepares to enter an abandoned Iraqi bunker.[li]

North of Alpha Troop, Lt. Colonel John Brown’s 3/5 Cavalry was encountering Iraqi bunkers and prepared positions, about 5:05 pm.[lii] Captain Tony Turner’s Charlie Company, of 3/5 Cavalry, encountered an Iraqi bunker complex and dug-in T-72 tanks and BMPs. Within seconds, First Lieutenant Donald Murray’s Bradley was damaged in the track-wheels by T-72 fire.[liii] Captain Turner ordered his M1A1s into position and soon First Lieutenant Marty Leners, from tank Charlie 1-1 was engaged in a duel with a T-72, destroying the enemy tank after missing his first shot.[liv] With artillery support, the entire 1st Brigade developed its advance, with Charlie company, 3/5 Cavalry, leading the assault on the bunker complex.

            Lt. Col. Tony Isaacs and 1st Squadron, 2d ACR, had meanwhile encountered elements of the 50th Armored Brigade and engaged several battalions as it pressed towards the 70 Easting. At 5 pm, the 1st Squadron was positioned to attack the 37th Armored Brigade. The sun was setting at 5:50 pm.[lv]

The Centre

            North of 1st Brigade, 2d Brigade’s Colonel Higgins, 3rd Armored Division, also attacked at 5 pm. A Task Force comprised of a reinforced battalion was drawn from 4/8 Cavalry to lead the centre of the brigade’s attack, and was supported by divisional artillery.[lvi] 4/8 Cavalry engaged the enemy at 5:22, and was fighting 4 enemy BMPs at 5:27. The 3rd Armored Division had encountered three battalions of the 29th Mechanized Brigade, three armoured and one mechanized battalion from the 9th Armored Brigade, and one battalion of the 46th Mechanized Brigade plus a T-62 tank battalion, for a combined total of 160 Iraqi tanks and 117 BMPs.[lvii]

Captain Ernest Szabo’s Charlie Tank Company attacked into a flurry of enemy RPGs and artillery rounds. Ordered back by Lt. Col. Beaufort Hallman, Szabo, in tank Charlie 66, was delayed when the tank threw a track. Captain Szabo dismounted and ran through the artillery storm to eventually find Charlie 65 with a working radio and Charlie Company pulled back at 5:55. Colonel Higgens asked for artillery and Apache support and was given it, providing breathing space for the battle group to reform under artillery and air cover, with plans to continue the attack at 10 pm. General Funk, at 3rd Armored Division headquarters, prepared am artillery barrage including 5 battalions of artillery and an attack helicopter battalion.[lviii] When the attack came it lasted for 4 more hours, ending at 2 am on February 27th, with the 2nd Brigade having fought through much of the enemy’s 29th Brigade, despite the enemy’s determined counter-attacks.

Meanwhile, at 6 pm 4/7 Cavalry Squadron encountered dug-in Iraqi tanks. Unable to press the advance without heavy armour, the Bradley squadron pulled back, suffering damage to 9 of its 13 M3 Bradleys, plus another 2 damaged by friendly fire. 4/7 suffered 2 KIA and 12 WIA during this engagement. In effect, Iraq’s 9th Armoured Brigade had halted the advance of the US 1st Brigade, 3rd Armored Division.[lix]

The Right Flank

The 1st Armored Division moved across the Phase Line (PL) Tangerine at 6 pm, three brigades abreast. 1/1 Cavalry, a detachment alongside 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, encountered a large number of enemy tanks, 52 in all, and called down artillery against them, destroying 30 successfully.[lx] At 6:30, Colonel Zanini, commanding 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division (the most heavily armoured formation in the US Army, known as the “Bulldog” Brigade), delivered orders to Lt. Col. Ed Dyer commanding 1/37 “Dragon” Armor Battalion, who then issued attack orders to the battalion’s company commanders at 6:45: “Buster, Cobra, Dauntless, Gator – we have just gotten word that one brigade of the Tawakalna Division is a few kilometers to our front. The enemy unit consists of more than a hundred armored vehicles…”, and concluded with orders to form, “DRAGON’S ROAR [formation] on my command!”[lxi] The 1/37 battalion’s formation included 45 M1A1 tanks, supported by attack helicopters and Bradleys.[lxii]

            155mm DIPCM howitzers from 3/1 Field Artillery began hammering the enemy positions in front of 3rd Brigade at 7pm.[lxiii] Although the artillery missed its target, it scattered the Iraqi forces nevertheless, who believed they were under air attack.

            This was the situation at 8 pm: Ed Dyer’s TF 1/37 Armor Battalion, and TF 7/6 supported by TF 3/35 in reserve, moved on the 68th Easting at PL Libya. Task Force 1/37 Abrams tanks moved into position, using their patent battalion formation in phalanx form, in which the M1A1s presented a single front, each MBT (Main Battle Tank) fifty meters apart, the entire line 2 kms long (2d ACR, for its part, had its own formations, such as the Troop Diamond formation, with four Troops forming the diamond’s points).[lxiv] Delta Company, 1/37 now approached the positions occupied by Iraqi infantry, who, once the American artillery lifted, assaulted Delta’s position in rushes. They were quickly reduced by heavy machine gun, and more targets were encountered on the horizon. The brigade opened up with TOW missiles and cannon fire, and at 8:30 pm Colonel Zanini ordered 1/37 to advance into the Iraqi positions, with 7/6 providing over-watch. As the divisional artillery MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket Systems) went into action on targets in the rear of the Republican Guard positions, Captain Dana Pittard, of Delta Company, led the advance of Bravo and Charlie companies, storming a ridge and continuing to engage Iraqi vehicles.[lxv]

trenches

Iraqi trenches.

As the battalion moved down the ridge, it encountered dug-in Iraqi tanks. At extreme ranges, the longest of 3.7 kms, and an average between 2 and 3 kms, the Americans engaged the Iraqi tanks, devastating them with M-829AI Armor Piercing Sabot depleted uranium munitions. Apache helicopters covered 1/37s advance.[lxvi] M1A1, Delta-24, was hit and destroyed- the crew injured, but escaped- and the battle became close-in around burning vehicles and bunkers. One of Bravo company’s tanks was hit in the rear and disabled, the crew escaped unharmed, tank burning. C-22 was hit shortly afterwards, and also disabled without major injuries. The C-Company commander’s tank was hit, for a total of four damaged tanks with 16 general uninjured crewmen escaping.[lxvii] The battalion was under fire from concealed Iraqi positions strewn amongst the burning hulks of their tanks and bunkers. 7/6 Infantry now advanced and secured prisoners, and by 11 pm the battlefield was reported cleared, with over 100 prisoners taken.[lxviii]

At 8:30 pm, HQ-26, a Bradley AFV from 4/32 scouts, was engaged by a T-72 and enemy infantry. Private First Class Frank Brandish was able to knock out the T-72s road-wheels with a TOW missile, however, in return, the T-72 killed Staff Sergeant Christopher Stevens in the Bradley’s turret. Nearby, HQ-21 joined the skirmish, destroying the T-72 with another TOW missile. As PFC Bradish and PFC Adrian Stokes escaped the wreck of HQ-26, they were fired at with heavy machine gun. Peppered by gunshots and their own ammunition as it cooked-off inside the burning AFV, Stokes went down, but was retrieved by the wounded Bradish, although Stokes soon succumbed to his wounds. Bradish continued to retrieve supplies and equipment from the Bradley, and was able to recover gunner Sergeant Donald Goodwin, who had been blown fifty meters from the destroyed Bradley, and was suffering from a chest-wound.[lxix] Lt. James Baker, in HQ-21, called in mortar fire on the Iraqi infantry engaging HQ-26 and then moved to recover survivors. Twenty minutes later, rapidly arrived medical tracks were administering to the wounded Bradish and Goodwin.

            The battle continued until about 10 pm, when General Funk decided to suspend the attack until the following day, to prevent further friendly fire incidents.[lxx] Specialist Chris Harvey, in an APC of the hard-pressed Ghost Troop, recalled seeing 360 degrees of carnage from his position: “All I saw were things burning,” he recalled.[lxxi] Air and artillery attacks continued throughout the night.

ff

M3 destroyed by friendly fire.

General Griffith, with 3d Brigade, had engaged the northernmost elements of the Tawakalna Division, and he soon dispatched 1/1 Cavalry to search for the Medina Division to the north. As the sun was setting, the cavalry troops were 50 kms ahead of the rest of the division, when they encountered enemy T-72s and BMPs. It was now 10 pm, and 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, had also started to encounter the forward positions of the Medina Division, although they had been abandoned as the division contracted into its close security zone.

euphrates

American troops secure an abandoned Iraqi Army radio station along the Euphrates river valley.[lxxii]

As this was happening, General Funk received intelligence from VII Corps command, informing him that a JSTARS aircraft had spotted a battalion sized detachment from the Tawakalna Division preparing to counter-attack between 1st and 3rd Armored Divisions. Colonel Burke, General Funk’s Aviation Brigade Commander was now alerted, and he rapidly deployed 24 Apache gunships, which struggled through the worsening weather and storms and, identified the enemy tank formation at 11 pm. Descending on their targets the Apaches destroyed 8 T-72s and 19 BMPs in 3 minutes, while more Apaches from the 1st Infantry Division attacked far behind the enemy’s lines at the 90th Easting.[lxxiii] Throughout the night 3rd Armored’s 4/18 Infantry was involved in intense combat with Iraqi infantry counter-attacks. A VULCAN antiaircraft system was employed to decimate the enemy’s infantry attacks.

m11320mm

20mm VULCAN cannon mounted on M113 APC, destroying an Iraq Army truck.[lxxiv]

The “Big Red One”, 1st Infantry Division, now pressed the attack, providing relief to the 2nd ACR. The 1st Division included 334 M1A1s, 224 M2A2 Bradleys, and 3 battalions of attached engineers.[lxxv] It was an apocalyptic scene for the soldiers of 1st “Devil” Brigade who encountered a situation in which they pressed, “… through the darkness toward what looked like Armageddon. The eastern horizon was ablaze with green and red tracers and MLRS rocket trails, punctuated by bursts of light from tank cannon fire and artillery explosions. Fires raged from destroyed Iraqi vehicles all along the horizon.”[lxxvi]

bigredone

Movements of the 1st Infantry Division.[lxxvii]

2nd Battalion, “The Dreadnoughts”, 34th Armored Regiment, now pressed in to relieve Ghost and Eagle Troops, although the plan at this point was vague and intelligence on the enemy incomplete. Colonel Maggart of the 1st Brigade moved forward to the 2/34 battalion’s position and ordered the 5/16 battalion to screen 3 kilometers to his rear.[lxxviii] In the process of this leap-frog attack. 1/34’s “Centurion’s” battalion encountered BMPs and T-55 tanks. Captain James A. Bell saw a regimental scout Bradley go up in flames, the crew, with 4 injuries, running from the flaming wreck. As M1A1 tanks moved up to engage the T-55s, another Bradley was hit, killing the gunner and wounding the leader of the scout platoon.[lxxix] The 1/34 pressed its attack, supported by 1st Brigade and 3rd Brigade, and 2/34 battalion had overrun the Republican Guard positions and were indeed arriving at the Kuwait border (PL Milford) after 1:35 am.

Meanwhile, at 1 am, B Troop of 1/1 Cavalry came under artillery fire as they began to encounter the Adnan Division, and suffered 23 soldiers wounded and 5 vehicles destroyed. Apaches were dispatched to counter the enemy’s artillery.[lxxx] In the ensuing Apache attack, 38 T-72 tanks were destroyed, along with 14 BMPs and 70 trucks.

3rd Armored Division was now beginning to approach the Iraqi Al Faw Division, and on the orders of General Franks, Colonel McCauley and the 18 Apache gunships under his command, were ordered to attack Objective Minden, logistical stores and division command for the Al Faw Division. McCauley assigned target areas and the Apaches engaged until they ran up against the 20th grid line, which demarcated USAF area of operations, in which F-111s were active.[lxxxi]

G+3

Victory: the situation by the evening of 27 February, G+3.[lxxxii]

Fighting continued into the morning, and at 7 am, orders were issued to cross into Kuwait. After 7:30 am, 4/32 battalion encountered a stray Iraqi tank battalion moving northward and destroyed it, including 15 tanks and 25 other vehicles.[lxxxiii] After halting to reform, the advanced continued, and at 12 pm, the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Armored Division, attacked The 2nd Brigade of the Medina Republican Guard Division, in what is known as the Battle of Medina Ridge, “the largest single engagement of the war”, where the Iraqi 2nd Brigade was totally destroyed for no Coalition fatalities.[lxxxiv] Following reports from Schwarzkopf that of the 4,700 tanks deployed by Iraq, nearly 3,700 had been destroyed, President Bush suspended operations at 9 pm, Wednesday, Washington time, confirmed by General Colin Powell, for 8 am the following day in Kuwait.[lxxxv] This was in part influenced by media reports coming from Iraq regarding the carnage on Highway 6, soon named the “Highway of Death”.[lxxxvi]

Conclusion

At the conclusion of the forty-hours of combat, VII Corps had destroyed 1,350 tanks, 1,224 armored troop carriers, 285 artillery pieces, 105 air defence systems, and 1,229 trucks, while having sustained only 36 armored vehicles losses to enemy fire: 47 KIA with 192 wounded.[lxxxvii] These figures are significant: before ground operations commenced Third Army Personnel Command predicted that VII Corps would sustain 20,000 casualties by G+4.[lxxxviii]

The Coalition suffered 148 American, 47 British, 2 French, and 14 Egyptian fatalities, and 357 WIA, in the ground campaign.[lxxxix] 60,000 Iraqis had been killed and 2,500 tanks, 2,000 IFVs, and 2,000 guns destroyed.[xc] As historian Stephen Biddle put it, the salient fact of the war was the Coalition’s miniscule casualty rate: “795,000 Coalition troops destroyed a defending Iraqi army of hundreds of thousands for the loss of only 240 attackers.”[xci] Over 80,000 of Iraq’s soldiers had surrendered or been captured with another 100,000 retreating back to Iraq.[xcii]

oil

Oil wells on fire: the First Gulf War as an ecological catastrophe.[xciii] The average cost of the war was 1 billion US dollars a day, with total cost estimated at over $200 billion, accounted in 1991 dollars.[xciv]

The heavily engaged 2d ACR elements, in particular, Ghost, Eagle and Iron Troops, destroyed an entire Republican Guard Brigade; 50 T-72 and T-62 tanks, over 35 other AFVs, (113 AFVs in total), and at least 45 trucks, wounding or killing over 600 Iraqi soldiers, and capturing another 600.[xcv] Only one Bradley IFV was actually destroyed by enemy fire, with a second lost to friendly fire.[xcvi] The 1st Amored Division, for its part, had destroyed large elements of the Tawakalna Division as well: 112 tanks, 82 APCs, two pieces of artillery, and 94 trucks, plus two air defence artillery systems and over 500 prisoners.[xcvii] Task Force 1/37, alone, destroyed 21 T-72s, 14 BMPs, two Shilka vehicles, a T-62 and a MTLB. The 29th Brigade of the Tawakalna Division was wiped out by a force one-fourth of its size, and likewise the 18th Brigade was annihilated and only managed to inflict a single loss on the enemy’s, smaller, AFV force.[xcviii]

Superior technology, and general preponderance, certainly played key roles in the victory: it allowed the Coalition air forces to achieve air superiority and the suppression of the enemy’s air defence network within six-weeks, and was followed by a month long air campaign in which one-third of all Iraqi armed forces were destroyed. When maneuvering, especially at night, Iraq’s forces became vulnerable to US Army helicopter gunships quipped with FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared) pods.

Mobile artillery, acting in the classic role of field artillery, on both sides, produced significant results: breaking up attacks, countering other artillery, and supporting embattled units, while also demonstrating the capability to destroy armoured vehicles and tanks. Ghost Troop had called in 2,000 howitzer rounds and 12 rockets in support of its position during the defensive battle on February 26.[xcix] The Artillery was also proven in the more traditional role of fixed bombardment, such as with the 90,000 round 2 and a half hour long opening bombardment fired against the Iraq border defences.[c]

Indeed, clear qualitative and quantitative disparities did exist: the 120 mm cannon mounted on the M1A1 MBTs outranged the T-72s and T-55s by more than a kilometer in terms of penetrative power.[ci] Furthermore, the depleted uranium (DU) anti-tank rounds fired by the M1A1 could penetrate through both the defensive berms and armour of any vehicle behind it, rendering the Iraqi sand-work obstructions counter-productive.[cii]

USAF aerospace power, stealth technology, reconnaissance satellites, laser-guided munitions, global positing systems, laser range-finders, thermal sights and FLIR pods, and remotely piloted vehicles, all represented a margin of technological superiority over the hardware of the Iraq Army.[ciii] Biddle calculated that the “average date of introduction for the US weapons used in Desert Storm”, was roughly 1974 for the Coalition and 1962 for the Iraqis.[civ]

In the event, the Coalition air forces had flown 106,000 sorties during the campaign, and these attacks crippled the Iraqi Army’s ability to resist. Airpower, naval and land-based, had contributed in no small measure to this victory: 1,388 tanks, 1,152 pieces of artillery, and 929 APCs had been destroyed by Coalition air power before the commencement of ground operations altogether (CENTCOM estimated that 39% of the Iraqi tanks, 32% of APCs and 47% of their artillery had been destroyed before G-day).[cv]

surrender

During the coalition mechanized assault over 80,000 prisoners were taken.[cvi]

On the other hand, the USMC, in operations to liberate Kuwait, suffered fewer tank losses against equally powerful armoured forces and did so with older M-60A1 tanks. Furthermore, despite the destruction of the Tawakalna by VII Corps on 26 February, and the Medina division likewise the following day by the 1st US Armored Division, the third Republican Guard armoured division, the Hammurabi division fought another one-sided engagement against the 24th US Mechanized Division at Al-Tawr al-Hammar on 2 Marc, after the ceasefire.[cvii]

prisoners

Processing Iraqi prisoners.

The significant limitations on battlefield range imposed by the weather- and the impact this had on the scale of air support that could be provided- should also not be under-emphasized. Training was essential, and while the Republican Guard units had combat experience from the Iran-Iraq War, the US Army mechanized forces had been redeployed from Germany, where they had prepared to engage the Soviet Union’s expected massive armoured assault. Once in theatre, the Coalition had time to prepare and rehearse the planned operation, and time was also spent acclimatizing: for example, Eagle Troop had arrived in Saudi Arabia on December 4th, 1990, which allowed almost three months of preparation time.[cviii]

An overly centralized and rigid command structure limited the Iraqi Army’s capacity to adapt and respond, a problem compounded by logistical interference in the form of Coalition airstrikes. The destruction of the Republican Guard’s outposts and reconnaissance elements meant that little intelligence was moved up the chain of command, producing tactical surprise.[cix] H. R. McMaster, the Eagle Troop commander, and the author of an influential book reviewing the political decisions that contributed to the failure in Vietnam,[cx] observed of 73 Easting that the battle demonstrated the importance of tactical decision making by lower echelon commanders, and indeed, exposed the real limitations of technology, and airpower.[cxi] Historian Stephen Bourque argued that the US Army Staff tended to over-plan by focusing on worst-case scenarios, while the attempts by senior commanders to try to be everywhere (through over-use of their personnel helicopters) meant delays in decision making.[cxii] Other low-tech delays impacted the American forces, such as vehicles becoming lost because they lacked compasses, or were bogged down by the rain.[cxiii] Likewise, some Iraqi tanks, whose crews had dismounted fearing Coalition air strikes, did not appear on thermal sights because their engines were not running.[cxiv]

Stephen Biddle, based on computer simulations of the battle, observed that the US Army’s high-tech arsenal was only a force-multiplier when matched with the rigorous training and professionalism of the American soldiers and officers, combined with apparent mistakes made by the Iraqi commanders.[cxv] Likewise, despite possessing older equipment, the Republican Guard and Iraq Army divisions may have been significantly more effective had they been trained to Western standards.[cxvi] The various explanations have sparked intense debate,[cxvii] and many questions remain unanswered.

simulations

Table of simulated outcomes.[cxviii]

clancy

Tom Clancy prepared a script treatment to be produced by Universal Studios and directed by John McTiernan.

[i] Diane Putney, “Planning the Air Campaign: The Washington Perspective,” in Air Power History: Turning Points from Kitty Hawk to Kosovo, ed. Sebastian Cox and Peter Gray, Cass Series: Studies in Air Power 13 (New York: Frank Cass Publishers, 2002), 249–57., p. 249

[ii] Stephen Biddle, Military Power: Explaining Victory and Defeat in Modern Battle (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2004)., p. 134

[iii] Ibid., p. 134

[iv] Stephan Alan Bourque, Jayhawk!: The VII Corps in the Persian Gulf War, Google ebook (Washington, D.C.: Department of the Army, 2002), https://books.google.ca/books?id=-qWfpwO3e0cC., p. 189

[v] Richard S. Lowry, The Gulf War Chronicles: A Military History of the First War with Iraq (Lincoln, NE: iUniverse Star, Inc., 2008)., p. 157

[vi] Biddle, Military Power: Explaining Victory and Defeat in Modern Battle., p. 132

[vii] Otto Friedrich, ed., Desert Storm: The War in the Persian Gulf (Time Warner Publishing, Inc., 1991)., p. 89

[viii] Alastair Finlan, The Gulf War 1991, Essential Histories 55 (Oxford: Routledge, 2003)., p. 53

[ix] Stephan Alan Bourque, “Correcting Myths about the Persian Gulf War: The Last Stand of the Tawakalna,” Middle East Journal 51, no. 4 (1997).

[x] Bourque, Jayhawk!: The VII Corps in the Persian Gulf War., p. 184

[xi] Ibid., p. 189

[xii] Ibid., p. 214

[xiii] Friedrich, Desert Storm: The War in the Persian Gulf., p. 111-2

[xiv] Finlan, The Gulf War 1991., p. 56

[xv] Bourque, Jayhawk!: The VII Corps in the Persian Gulf War., p. 225

[xvi] Ibid., p. 207

[xvii] Bourque, “Correcting Myths about the Persian Gulf War: The Last Stand of the Tawakalna.”

[xviii] H. Norman Schwarzkopf and Peter Petre, It Doesn’t Take A Hero (New York: Bantam Books, 1992)., p. 456

[xix] Finlan, The Gulf War 1991., p. 61

[xx] Ibid., p. 62; Bourque, Jayhawk!: The VII Corps in the Persian Gulf War., p. 206; Schwarzkopf and Petre, It Doesn’t Take A Hero., p. 456-7

[xxi] Finlan, The Gulf War 1991., p. 57

[xxii] US Defence Department and H. R. McMaster, Battle of 73 Easting, Kindle ebook, 2014., p. 8; Schwarzkopf and Petre, It Doesn’t Take A Hero., p. 461

[xxiii] Bourque, “Correcting Myths about the Persian Gulf War: The Last Stand of the Tawakalna.”

[xxiv] Ibid.

[xxv] Finlan, The Gulf War 1991., p. 64

[xxvi] Bourque, Jayhawk!: The VII Corps in the Persian Gulf War., p. 326

[xxvii] Vince Crawley, “From the Stars and Stripes Archives: The Battle of the 73 Easting,” Stars and Strips, June 7, 2003, http://www.stripes.com/news/the-battle-of-the-73-easting-1.6319.

[xxviii] Mike Guardia, The Fires of Babylon: Eagle Troop and the Battle of 73 Easting, Google ebook (Casemate, 2015), https://books.google.ca/books?id=_j8bCgAAQBAJ., Chapter 6, Day of Battle; Lowry, The Gulf War Chronicles: A Military History of the First War with Iraq., p. 158

[xxix] US Defence Department and McMaster, Battle of 73 Easting., p. 10

[xxx] Ibid., p. 11

[xxxi] John Keegan, The Iraq War: The 21-Day Conflict and Its Aftermath (London: Pimlico, Random House, 2005)., colour plates

[xxxii] Lowry, The Gulf War Chronicles: A Military History of the First War with Iraq., p. 157; Crawley, “From the Stars and Stripes Archives: The Battle of the 73 Easting.”

[xxxiii] Lowry, The Gulf War Chronicles: A Military History of the First War with Iraq., p. 158; US Defence Department and McMaster, Battle of 73 Easting., p. 10

[xxxiv] US Defence Department and McMaster, Battle of 73 Easting., p. 11

[xxxv] Ibid., p. 12

[xxxvi] Lowry, The Gulf War Chronicles: A Military History of the First War with Iraq., p. 158

[xxxvii] US Defence Department and McMaster, Battle of 73 Easting., p. 13

[xxxviii] Crawley, “From the Stars and Stripes Archives: The Battle of the 73 Easting.”

[xxxix] Lowry, The Gulf War Chronicles: A Military History of the First War with Iraq., p. 159-60

[xl] Crawley, “From the Stars and Stripes Archives: The Battle of the 73 Easting.”

[xli] Ibid.

[xlii] Lowry, The Gulf War Chronicles: A Military History of the First War with Iraq., p. 160-1

[xliii] Ibid., p. 161

[xliv] Bourque, Jayhawk!: The VII Corps in the Persian Gulf War., p. 329

[xlv] Lowry, The Gulf War Chronicles: A Military History of the First War with Iraq., p. 163

[xlvi] Ibid., p. 158

[xlvii] Spencer C. Tucker, ed., “Battle of 73 Easting,” in Battles That Changed American History: 100 of the Greatest Victories and Defeats, Google ebooks (ABC-CLIO, LLC, 2014), 291–92., p. 291

[xlviii] Lowry, The Gulf War Chronicles: A Military History of the First War with Iraq., p. 158

[xlix] Ibid., p. 158

[l] Ibid., p. 167

[li] Friedrich, Desert Storm: The War in the Persian Gulf., p. 63-4

[lii] Lowry, The Gulf War Chronicles: A Military History of the First War with Iraq., p. 163

[liii] Ibid., p. 164

[liv] Ibid., p. 164

[lv] Bourque, Jayhawk!: The VII Corps in the Persian Gulf War., p. 206

[lvi] Lowry, The Gulf War Chronicles: A Military History of the First War with Iraq., p. 164

[lvii] Bourque, “Correcting Myths about the Persian Gulf War: The Last Stand of the Tawakalna.”

[lviii] Ibid.

[lix] Ibid.

[lx] Lowry, The Gulf War Chronicles: A Military History of the First War with Iraq., p. 167

[lxi] Ibid., p. 167

[lxii] Bourque, “Correcting Myths about the Persian Gulf War: The Last Stand of the Tawakalna.”

[lxiii] Lowry, The Gulf War Chronicles: A Military History of the First War with Iraq., p. 167

[lxiv] Guardia, The Fires of Babylon: Eagle Troop and the Battle of 73 Easting. ebook

[lxv] Lowry, The Gulf War Chronicles: A Military History of the First War with Iraq., p. 169

[lxvi] Ibid., p. 169

[lxvii] Ibid., p. 169

[lxviii] Ibid., p. 170

[lxix] Ibid., p. 166

[lxx] Ibid., p. 165

[lxxi] Crawley, “From the Stars and Stripes Archives: The Battle of the 73 Easting.”

[lxxii] Friedrich, Desert Storm: The War in the Persian Gulf., p. 75-6

[lxxiii] Lowry, The Gulf War Chronicles: A Military History of the First War with Iraq., p. 170-1

[lxxiv] Friedrich, Desert Storm: The War in the Persian Gulf., p. 67

[lxxv] Bourque, Jayhawk!: The VII Corps in the Persian Gulf War., p. 195

[lxxvi] Lowry, The Gulf War Chronicles: A Military History of the First War with Iraq., p. 171

[lxxvii] Ibid., p. 172

[lxxviii] Ibid., p. 172

[lxxix] Ibid., p. 173

[lxxx] Ibid., p. 181

[lxxxi] Ibid., p. 180

[lxxxii] Finlan, The Gulf War 1991., p. 65

[lxxxiii] Lowry, The Gulf War Chronicles: A Military History of the First War with Iraq., p. 185

[lxxxiv] Ibid., p. 189; Biddle, Military Power: Explaining Victory and Defeat in Modern Battle., p. 145

[lxxxv] Friedrich, Desert Storm: The War in the Persian Gulf., p. 93; Schwarzkopf and Petre, It Doesn’t Take A Hero., p. 471

[lxxxvi] Schwarzkopf and Petre, It Doesn’t Take A Hero., p. 468

[lxxxvii] Biddle, Military Power: Explaining Victory and Defeat in Modern Battle., p. 135

[lxxxviii] Bourque, Jayhawk!: The VII Corps in the Persian Gulf War., p. 184

[lxxxix] Friedrich, Desert Storm: The War in the Persian Gulf., p. 96

[xc] Keegan, The Iraq War: The 21-Day Conflict and Its Aftermath., p. 82

[xci] Biddle, Military Power: Explaining Victory and Defeat in Modern Battle., p. 133

[xcii] Keegan, The Iraq War: The 21-Day Conflict and Its Aftermath., p. 81, 83

[xciii] Friedrich, Desert Storm: The War in the Persian Gulf., p. 197-8

[xciv] Ibid., p. 197

[xcv] Lowry, The Gulf War Chronicles: A Military History of the First War with Iraq., p. 160; Tucker, “Battle of 73 Easting.”, p. 292

[xcvi] Tucker, “Battle of 73 Easting.”, p. 291

[xcvii] Lowry, The Gulf War Chronicles: A Military History of the First War with Iraq., p. 170

[xcviii] Biddle, Military Power: Explaining Victory and Defeat in Modern Battle., p. 145

[xcix] Tucker, “Battle of 73 Easting.”, p. 291

[c] Bourque, Jayhawk!: The VII Corps in the Persian Gulf War., p. 194

[ci] Biddle, Military Power: Explaining Victory and Defeat in Modern Battle., p. 135

[cii] Ibid., p. 138

[ciii] Ibid., p. 135; Bourque, Jayhawk!: The VII Corps in the Persian Gulf War., p. 199

[civ] Biddle, Military Power: Explaining Victory and Defeat in Modern Battle., p. 135

[cv] Putney, “Planning the Air Campaign: The Washington Perspective.”, p. 255; Tim Benbow, The Magic Bullet? Understanding the Revolution in Military Affairs (London: Chrysalis Books Group, 2004)., p. 66

[cvi] Friedrich, Desert Storm: The War in the Persian Gulf., p. 91-2

[cvii] Bourque, “Correcting Myths about the Persian Gulf War: The Last Stand of the Tawakalna.”

[cviii] Douglas Macgregor, Warrior’s Rage: The Great Tank Battle of 73 Easting (Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 2009)., p. 43; US Defence Department and McMaster, Battle of 73 Easting., p. 2

[cix] Bourque, “Correcting Myths about the Persian Gulf War: The Last Stand of the Tawakalna.”

[cx] H. R. McMaster, Dereliction of Duty: Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam (HarperCollins, 1998).

[cxi] David Leonhardt, “Why Success Starts With Failure,” Economix Blog, NYT, May 9, 2011, http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/05/09/why-success-starts-with-failure/.

[cxii] Bourque, Jayhawk!: The VII Corps in the Persian Gulf War., p. 198, 216

[cxiii] Bourque, “Correcting Myths about the Persian Gulf War: The Last Stand of the Tawakalna.”

[cxiv] Bourque, Jayhawk!: The VII Corps in the Persian Gulf War., p. 355

[cxv] Stephen Biddle, “Victory Misunderstood: What the Gulf War Tells Us About the Future of Conflict,” International Security 21, no. 2 (Fall 1996): 139–79., p. 165-6

[cxvi] Daryl G. Press, “Lessons from Ground Combat in the Gulf: The Impact of Training and Technology,” International Security 22, no. 2 (Fall 1997): 137–46., p. 137

[cxvii] Stephen Biddle, “The Gulf War Debate Redux: Why Skill and Technology Are the Right Answer. (response to Press, Keaney, and Mahnken and Watts).,” International Security 22, no. 2 (1997): 137.

[cxviii] Biddle, “Victory Misunderstood: What the Gulf War Tells Us About the Future of Conflict.”,

The Development of the Tank in Britain

The Development of the Tank in Britain.

Image

Mark V Tank at Tank Corps Driving School

<http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205071473 >

The trench deadlock on the Western Front brought to the fore the best technical and theoretical minds in Britain. The various technical arms of Britain’s war establishment pursued radical technological innovations to overcome the “learning curve” of machine warfare. Perhaps no subject outside of the genesis of strategic bombing is as controversial or little understood as the origin of the tank during the First World War.

Castaldi, Fontana, and Nuvolari (2009) in their analysis of tank technology development, define the armoured fighting vehicle as “in most general terms: mobility, firepower and protection”.[1] They defer to Guderian as the doctrinal innovator responsible for the “new tactics based on speed and mobility.”[2]

Castaldi, Fontana, and Nuvolari appreciate technological paradigms as sets of “heuristics” or prevailing descriptions for problem solutions.[3] Modern tank capabilities are understood in terms of their applicability to strategic, operational and tactical situations.

 Image

Essentials of Tank Capability.[4]

In material terms, the essence of the problem of the trench deadlock can be expressed by the statistic that 50 infantrymen firing 10 rounds a minute equaled one water-cooled Maxim machine gun at 500 rounds per minute.[5] With the introduction of heavy artillery it likewise became necessary to abandon surprise, as concentrations of artillery required large logistics networks. Furthermore, the heavy artillery bombardments of set-piece battles invariably ruined the landscape. The influence of infantry cannon and direct-fire was reduced in proportion to the expanded role of the heavy artillery.

To return mobility, surprise and direct fire support to the infantry attack, the notion of the armed and armoured vehicle became central. French and British firms independently began to investigate the concept after the initial phase of the war in Autumn of 1914.[6]

The first movements in the direction of an armoured fighting vehicle, naturally enough, came from the fertile mind of H. G. Wells, who had imagined similar machines in 1903.[7]

 Image

Holt tractor (75hp) with 8 inch howitzer

http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205269802

The basic principle according to Heinz Guderian, was the Holt Caterpillar: a machine, once armed, capable of crossing the deadly no-man’s land despite echelon machine-gun fire, barb wire and the storm of steel – the artillery barrage. Such a machine would have “the potential to crush obstacles, cross trenches and convey its armament under bullet-proof protection into the very midst of the enemy, where it could annihilate the otherwise almost invulnerable machine-guns, and enable one’s own infantry to pass open ground without incurring intolerable casualties.” [8]

Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, appreciated the problem of deadlock from his usual material perspective. The essence of the problem was the same on land as it was on sea. The problem was protection: men from bullets and ships from torpedoes. “Reduced to its rudiments, it consisted in interposing a thin plate of steel between the side of the ship and the approaching torpedo, or between the body of a man and the approaching bullet.[9] Or, “the Tank was the beginning of the bullet-proof army.”[10]

 Image

RNAS Armoured car section entrained, Eastern Front.

http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205317703>

In Churchill’s vision of the new methods, armored cars operated by the Royal Naval Air Service would “protect the advanced bases which our naval aeroplanes might require to use.”[11]

The exploits of Charles Samson during operations at Dunkirk on one of these missions are legendary.[12] However, they were not to be the norm on the Western Front once the trench lines solidified by the end of October 1914 (the Eastern Front is another story). A new machine was required for surmounting the trenches.

Churchill was unambiguous that it was the RNAS (Royal Naval Air Service) that first embodied the principles that led to the development of the tank: “The armoured car was the child of the air; and the Tank its grandchild.” Churchill also credited the siege howitzer invention of Rear-Admiral Reginald Bacon and the Coventry Ordnance Works, an idea, backed by Field Marshal Lord Kitchener (Minister for War), that would have deployed 15-inch siege howitzers propelled by caterpillar tracks.[13]

 Asked for designs that would cross trenches, Bacon prepared a bridging machine, and Churchill prepared to display the idea to Sir John French and Lord Kitchener.[14] The plan was arranged in November 1914, and was tested by the War Office in May 1915, although the machine was rejected as unsatisfactory.[15] Churchill distinguished these first efforts from the independent efforts of Hankey and Swinton.[16]

Image

Swinton

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:E._D._Swinton_op._p._81.jpg

Colonel Swinton developed the idea of an armoured fighting vehicle during his reporting as “Eyewitness” a war correspondent for Kitchener.[17] Swinton had been a first hand witness to the utility of armoured warfare as a member of Samson’s RNAS armoured car squadron during the Dunkirk operations.[18] Swinton, who was also assistant secretary to the CID (Committee of Imperial Defence) since 1913, was in close contact with Maurice Hankey, the CID permanent secretary.[19]

 Image

The Imperial War Cabinet, May 1917.

Hankey, with other members of the secretariat, is in the back row, third from right. First Sea Lord Jellicoe is second from left, back row, with First Lord Carson to his left. The primaries are seated front, including Lord Milner, DLG, Bonar-Law, Robert Borden, and Jan Smuts

http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205124978>

Hankey wrote a letter to Historian and tank proponent Sir Basil Liddell Hart on 3 April 1948, in which he explained Swinton’s contribution.[20]

Hankey explained that he and Swinton first germinated the idea when they met at the CID on 20 October 1914. There Swinton noted the existence of the Holt tractor and the use that could be made of it to break the deadlock.[21] Hankey and Swinton, aware of the bureaucratic opposition their agenda would encounter, agreed to make three separate avenues of approach: Hankey at the War Office, Swinton with the General Staff and Captain T. G. Tulloch (RA) with technical matters and execution.[22]

 Image

Painting of Horatio Kitchener 1911

http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/5346

Guderian relates that Hankey contacted Asquith to follow up on Hankey’s “Boxing Day Memo” (actually dated 28 December 1914). The memo included a proposal for the construction of “large, heavy rollers, themselves bullet proof… with ‘caterpillar’ driving gear… [and] a Maxim gun fitted.”[23]

As Guderian understood the memo, it emphasized the necessity of building “armoured machine-gun carriers with caterpillar tracks.”[24] Guderian critiqued Lord Kitchener for suppressing this early “machine-gun destroyer” initiative.[25]

Indeed, this was the case for Hankey’s approach through the War Office. Although backed by former PM Arthur Balfour (after the May Crisis, First Lord of the Admiralty), and with Asquith showing support, Kitchener detracted from the idea arguing on the case of vulnerability of the tractors to artillery.[26]

Reading Hankey’s December 1914 memo brought Churchill’s mind back around to the machines, and he wrote a letter to Asquith endorsing Hankey’s recommendations.[27]

In that letter, Churchill stated that in December 1914 he had ordered “the Naval Air Service” (RNAS) to build twenty “shields on wheels” for experimental purposes.[28]

Churchill stated that Asquith showed the letter to Kitchener, who received it favourably, but placed further investigation under the responsibility of the Department of the Master General of the Ordnance, which, already dealing with a munitions shortage (the Shell Crisis) failed to move forward with the project.[29]

Feeling that things were not progressing as required, Churchill, on 19 January 1915, instructed Murray Sueter, Director Admiralty Air Department (Churchill calls this the “Air Division”) and chief of the RNAS, to “make certain experiments” with machines designed for defeating trench works.[30]

 Sueter, along with his crack armoured car and airplane engineers went to work on the problem. Unfortunately for Sueter, he never received the recognition he thought deserving and when he took the matter directly to King George V, was court martialed by the Admiralty.[31]

 Image

Tank designers beside “Mother” at Burton Park, Lincoln. Included are Hetherington, Wilson and Tritton.

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Churchill met with Major Hetherington, who was working for Sueter as a member of one of the RNAS Armoured Car Squadrons. In conversation with Churchill on 17 February, Hetherington proposed the construction of “land battleships” on a large scale.[32] Churchill forwarded these proposals to First Sea Lord Sir John Fisher, and on 20 February formed the Landship Committee, president Tennyson-d’Eyncourt, the Chief Constructor of the Navy.[33] Churchill’s secret committee, without correspondence with the War Office, produced two variants of machines, one wheeled the other caterpillar driven, the latter which Churchill ordered into production on 26 March 1915.[34]

At the behest of Hankey, the War Office had actually built and tested a small Holt tractor type, in February and March 1915, as related by Chuchill, although it failed to meet expectations.[35]

After the fallout of the May Crisis (collapse of the Fisher-Churchill regime over the Dardanelles campaign), the Landship Committee faced the financial chopping block, and Churchill claims that his personal appeal to Balfour, the incoming First Lord of the Admiralty (as of 25 May 1915) saved the project- trimmed down to a single machine. This single machine eventually became “Mother” which was tested at Lincoln in January and February 1916.[36]

Meanwhile, in June 1915 Swinton brought his proposal to the attention of Field Marshal Sir John French, who passed it to the War Office.[37] It can be seen then that Hankey’s policy of multiple avenues of approach was steadily building pressure.

A more complex machine was put to trial by the Landship Committee in September 1915. This was the “No 1 Lincoln Machine” – known as “Little Willie” after Walter Wilson – which was laid down on 11 August 1915.[38]

 Image

“Little Willie” the September 1915 trial machine.

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Pressured by Sir John French to investigate Swinton’s proposals, Swinton chaired the two pivotal interdepartmental conferences on 28 August and 24 December, 1915, in which the separate avenues of the Admiralty’s Landship committee and the War Office approach were united.[39] The latter meeting concluded with the placing of an order for fifty machines, which, to ensure secrecy, Swinton coined as “tanks”.[40]

Swinton, who had been at the “Little Willie” trial in September 1915 was in close liaison with the machine’s designers, Sir William Tritton and Walter Wilson. Together they worked up a scheme for a larger machine which was approved for construction by the Landship Committee meeting of 29 September 1915.[41]

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“Mother” the prototype tank on trials in January 1916.

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Hankey and Swinton continued to work closely, and there was speculation that Swinton was being groomed to succeed Hankey as permanent secretary. In February 1916 the new machines were tested. Shortly afterwards, the Heavy Section, Machine Gun Corps was formed, later renamed the Tank Corps in 1917.[42]

“Mother” underwent trials in February 1916 with Kitchener, Balfour and David Lloyd George in attendance. Kitchener apparently held to his position that these new machines would be vulnerable to enemy artillery.[43]

Lloyd George, then Minister of Munitions, was enthusiastic about the machine’s potential, and maneuvered to have the Landship Committee absorbed into his ministry.[44] From there, Lloyd George ordered 100 of the new model, now known as the “Tank Mark I”.[45] The order was shortly increased to 150 machines. The tank, brainchild of the conspiratorial Swinton-Hankey workgroup, grandchild of the Churchill-Sueter-Samson triumvirate, had come of age.

Image

Tank F-10 and soldiers of the “Heavy Section Machine Gun Corps” at Rollencourt Tank Park (“Tankodrome” 30 June 1917.

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[1] Carolina Castaldi, Roberto Fontana, and Alessandro Nuvolari, “‘Chariots of Fire’: The Evolution of Tank Technology, 1915-1945,” Journal of Evolutionary Economics 19, no. 4 (2009): 546–66. p. 546

[2] Ibid. p. 547

[3] Ibid. p. 547

[4] Ibid. p. 553

[5] Spencer Tucker, Tanks: An Illustrated History of Their Impact, Weapons and Warfare Series 17 (Santa Barbara, California: ABC-Clio, Inc., 2004). p. 6

[6] Ibid. p. 10

[7] Winston Churchill, The World Crisis: 1911-1918, Abridged and Revised Edition (New York: Free Press, 2005). p. 309

[8] Heinz Guderian, Achtung-Panzer!: The Development of Tank Warfare, trans. Christopher Duffy (London: Cassell, 1999). p. 48

[9] Churchill, The World Crisis: 1911-1918. p. 303

[10] Ibid. p. 304

[11] Ibid. p. 304

[12] Charles Rumney Samson, Fights and Flights (Nashville: The Battery Press, 1930). p. 12 et seq.

[13] Churchill, The World Crisis: 1911-1918. p. 305 & Tucker, Tanks: An Illustrated History of Their Impact. p. 11

[14] Churchill, The World Crisis: 1911-1918. p. 305

[15] Ibid. p. 305

[16] Ibid. p. 306

[17] Tucker, Tanks: An Illustrated History of Their Impact. p. 12

[18] Roger Ford, The World’s Great Tanks: From 1916 to the Present Day (Hong Kong: Brown Books, 1997). p. 7

[19] H. C. G. Matthew and B. Harrison, eds., “Swinton, Sir Ernest Dunlop,” The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, September 23, 2004), http://www.oxforddnb.com.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/templates/article.jsp?articleid=36392&back=#cosubject_36392.

[20] Stephen Roskill, Hankey: Man of Secrets, vol. Volume I: 1877–1918, 3 vols. (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1970). p. 147

[21] Ibid. p. 147

[22] Ibid. p. 147

[23] Ibid. p. 148

[24] Guderian, Achtung-Panzer!: The Development of Tank Warfare. p. 48

[25] Ibid. p. 48

[26] Roskill, Hankey: Man of Secrets. p. 147

[27] Churchill, The World Crisis: 1911-1918. p. 306, Roskill, Hankey: Man of Secrets. p. 148

[28] Churchill, The World Crisis: 1911-1918. p. 306-7

[29] Ibid. p. 307

[30] Ibid. p. 307

[31] ADM 178/29

[32] Churchill, The World Crisis: 1911-1918. p. 308

[33] Ibid. p. 308

[34] Ibid. p. 309

[35] Guderian, Achtung-Panzer!: The Development of Tank Warfare. p. 49

[36] Churchill, The World Crisis: 1911-1918. p. 310

[37] Guderian, Achtung-Panzer!: The Development of Tank Warfare. p. 49

[38] Ford, The World’s Great Tanks: From 1916 to the Present Day. p. 9

[39] Tucker, Tanks: An Illustrated History of Their Impact. p. 14

[40] Matthew and Harrison, “Swinton, Sir Ernest Dunlop.”

[41] Ford, The World’s Great Tanks: From 1916 to the Present Day. p. 9

[42] Matthew and Harrison, “Swinton, Sir Ernest Dunlop.”

[43] Guderian, Achtung-Panzer!: The Development of Tank Warfare. p. 50

[44] Ford, The World’s Great Tanks: From 1916 to the Present Day. p. 10

[45] Ibid. p. 10