Small Wars Journal

Desert Storm: Largest US Tank Battle Lasted Mere Minutes & The Left Hook

Sun, 01/17/2016 - 12:31pm

Desert Storm: Largest US Tank Battle Lasted Mere Minutes by Steven Beardsley, Stars & Stripes

It would go down as the largest battle of Operation Desert Storm, yet it wasn't much of a fight.

Tankers with U.S. Army's 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, needed a mere 40 minutes to pulverize an armored brigade of the Iraqi Republican Guard during the Battle of Medina Ridge, a display of technological superiority against a force many expected to be more formidable.

"It was brief, it was intense and it was one-sided," said Doug Woolley, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who led a platoon in the battle.

And it was one of the final punches of Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf's "left hook" — a massive flanking attack against Iraqi forces near the Kuwait border. The tank crews of 1st Armored Division had moved at a blistering pace through southern Iraq since crossing the Saudi border three days earlier, meeting little resistance along the way.

After a small skirmish with Iraqi regular forces in the town of Al Busayyah, 2nd Brigade tankers were pushed forward in search of the Republican Guard, the elite branch of Iraq's military and the praetorian guard of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein…

Read on.

‘Left Hook’ Deception Hastened War’s End by Wyatt Olson, Stars & Stripes

After coalition forces drove Iraqi occupiers out of Kuwait in February 1991, U.S. special forces discovered an intricate sand-table model used by the Republican Guard to plan for the defense of Kuwait City.

Most of the defenses displayed on the mockup were pointed toward the nearby sea coast, from where the Iraqis believed – as did most of the world that had watched – U.S. Marines would mount an amphibious assault. Model artillery and concertina wire lined the shoreline.

But that anticipated amphibious attack was an illusion, an elaborate ruse concocted by Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf’s planners to conceal the real main attack: a roughly 150-mile sweep west by U.S. Army ground forces into Iraq that cut off supply lines and retreat for many Republican Guard troops.

More than a month of bomb strikes had largely blinded Iraqi surveillance capability, allowing the U.S. to manipulate what the enemy still could see. A week before the main ground attack began on Feb. 23, Marines had crossed over the Saudi Arabia border to conduct attacks on the Republican Guard defenses.

But they were a feint -- although powerful enough to keep Saddam Hussein’s forces believing they were the main ground attack to support an amphibious landing…

Read on.