The US military has already successfully used a medium to locate a lost aircraft

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When Saddam Hussein ordered the invasion of Kuwait, the Marines were one of the first units to respond. On February 23, 1991, the I Marine Expeditionary Force controlled two reinforced maritime divisions ready to strike Iraqi forces in Kuwait.


Facing the Marines were two massive minefields and a dozen Iraqi divisions.

In the run-up to the invasion, the Marines worked hard to find gaps in the minefield that they could drill through. They also frequently clashed with Iraqi forces in artillery raids and during preemption. Battle of Khafji.

The Marines of Company D, 2nd Tank Battalion, drive their M-60A1 Main Battle Tank over a sand berm on Hill 231 while rehearsing their role as part of Task Force Breach Alpha during Operation Storm of the desert. (Photo by the Ministry of Defense)

This battle convinced the Marines that the task at hand might not be as daunting as they might have suspected. The Marines carried out the Iraqis lacked aggression and coordination, and if they were badly hit, they would retreat.

But before that could happen, they still had to find a way through the minefields. The commanders of the two marine divisions had their own ideas of how this would play out.

1st The Maritime Division, commanded by Major General Mike Myatt, was divided into four task forces – Ripper, Papa Bear, Taro and Grizzly. Two task forces would clear the tracks through the minefields before letting the other two pass to carry out the attack.

Bothnd The Maritime Division, commanded by Major General William Keys, had a different plan. Keys ordered the Division to break through the minefields before storming Kuwait to meet the Iraqis.

The US military has already successfully used a medium to locate a lost aircraft
An Iraqi T-55 main battle tank burns after an attack by the UK 1st Armored Division during Operation Desert Storm. (Photo Creative Commons)

Even before the ground war began, Special Forces Marines Taro and Grizzly would infiltrate Kuwait and through the minefield in order to take blocking positions when the invasions began.

Then, on February 24, 1991 at 4:30 a.m. local time, the invasion officially began. 1st The Marine Division’s two task forces, Ripper and Papa Bear, began their assaults through the gaps provided by Taro and Grizzly.

On their flank, the 2nd Marine Division, supplemented by the 2 of the US Armynd Armored Division 1st Brigade, began breaching the minefield. Loads of demining line and tanks equipped with plows pushed their way through the mines.

As the Marines cleared the minefields, they prepared to engage Iraqi forces. However, instead of immediate combat, they were faced with waves of surrendering Iraqi soldiers.

Unable to cope with the large number of prisoners of war and with targets to achieve, they simply pointed the Iraqis back and continued on their way.

On the first day, the Marines encountered only light resistance and captured all of their targets.

The US military has already successfully used a medium to locate a lost aircraft
Oil well fires rage outside Kuwait City in the wake of Operation Desert Storm. The wells were set on fire by Iraqi forces before being evicted from the region by coalition force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt David McLeod)

However, the next day, February 25, the Iraqis launched forceful counterattacks against the Marines’ positions.

Using the burning Burqan oil fields as a cover-up, the Iraqis were able to infiltrate very close to the Marines before launching their attacks.

The sudden appearance of an Iraqi brigade on the Navy’s flank caused a stir. 1st The TF Papa Bear tank battalion bore the brunt of the Iraqi advance. The Navy Commander reported, “T-62s everywhere, scattering like cockroaches from the Burqan oilfield.”

As the Navy’s M60 Patton tanks engaged the Iraqis, daring Navy aviators came low in the smoke to detonate the Iraqi tanks with Hellfire missiles. In three and a half hours of heavy fighting, the Marines drove out the Iraqis by destroying 75 armored vehicles.

On the other flank of TF Papa Bear, another Iraqi force was massing to attack the 1st Forward command post of the Maritime Division. An infantry platoon and another of LAV-25 commanded by Cpt. Eddie Ray was all that kept the PC.

When artillery shells started to rain around the Marines Ray ran forward to assess the situation. What he discovered was a numerically superior Iraqi force of tanks and armored personnel carriers approaching their position.

Ray’s small force immediately began engaging the Iraqis as they made their way to the CP. Seeing the attack develop, Brig. General Draude, deputy commander of the division, joked, “If I die today, my wife will kill me.”

Another officer quickly called in reinforcements from TF Ripper and I MEF headquarters. He was told that everyone was fighting and that there was no air support available.

M1 Abrams during the Desert Storm. (Photo: US Department of Defense)

He responded by simply holding the radio headset up for a few seconds before vehemently declaring, “We are in a REAL fight at the front of the division!”

I MEF sent two Cobra guns to support the besieged Marines. With the battleships in place, Ray made a bold move – he counterattacked. Despite overwhelming odds, Ray’s small force pounded the Iraqis and drove them from the surrounding area, destroying 50 vehicles and capturing 250 prisoners.

Ray was awarded the Croix de la Marine for its actions.

In the 2nd In the area of ​​the Marine Division, the Iraqis fought with equal tenacity. Company B, 4e The tank battalion – a reserve unit and the only Marines armed with the new M1 Abrams – woke up on the morning of February 25 to see a huge Iraqi armored column moving past their position.

In what has come to be known as the engagement of the awakening, the men of Company B, although outnumbered by 3 to 1, maneuvered in line and engaged the Iraqis. In just 90 seconds, Navy tankers wiped out the entire Iraqi force of 35 tanks and APCs.

After defeating the Iraqi counterattacks, the Marines continued their route north the next day. They took the vital airfield of Al Jaber and made it to the outskirts of Kuwait City and the international airport.

While the 2nd Navy Division cut off Iraqi’s retreat on 1st The maritime division attacked and secured the airport with the support of two battleships pulling from the Gulf.

The 100-hour land war cost the Marines five dead and 48 wounded. During this period, they fought over 160 kilometers across the occupied territory, crushed seven Iraqi divisions, destroyed more than 1,600 tanks and armored vehicles, and captured more than 22,000 prisoners.



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