| Day 15 Wednesday, January 30, 1991
The first major ground operation took place today when four separate incursions were launched by Iraqi troops. Described by Allied commanders as probing operations and not as an offensive, the Iraqis moved into Saudi Arabia in four separate thrusts until they were repulsed by U.S. and Coalition forces. In one battle near the Kuwaiti/Saudi border, two U.S. Marine Corps vehicles were hit, killing 11 Marines inside. It was later reported seven of these Marines died from friendly fire launched by American aircraft. These Marines were the first ground casualties of Operation Desert Storm.
One column, heading toward the Saudi town of Khafji, managed to beat back the Saudi and Marine defenders and occupied the town. The Khafji thrust took place when several dozen Iraqi tanks moved forward with their turrets turned toward the rear, the understood sign for surrender. When the Iraqis came across Saudi and Qatari forces guarding Khafji, they turned their guns around and began to attack, pushing the Allied forces into retreat. They eventually halted in Khafji where they dug in for the night. Two U.S. Army soldiers from a transportation battalion, including a U.S. female, were reported missing and believed captured near Khafji.
U.S. forces in theater crossed the 50000mark on Wednesday and General Norman Schwartzkopf took time out from directing the war to hold a press conference summing up the battle so far. He reported that to date the allies had flown 30,00 sorties, destroying:
- 38 of 44 target airfields.
- 33 of 66 targeted bridges.
- 31 of 31 targeted Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological facilities.
- 1/4 of all electrical plants
- 1/3 of Iraq's command, control and communications facilities.
While the numbers were impressive, Schwartzkopf cautioned that the Iraqi military remained a formidable fighting machine. He then went on to credit the technology of the U.S. airforce in the attacks but backed off from putting all his faith in technology.
Day 16 Thursday, January 31, 1991
The battle of Khafji continued on Thursday with Saudi, Qatari and U.S. forces teaming up to retake the captured border town. Iraqi forces, estimated to number around 500troops and 40 tanks, had captured the town the night before, and fought off at least two counterattacks by Saudi forces late Wednesday night. Early Thursday morning, Saudi and Qatari reentered the town and rescued 12 U.S. Marines who had been trapped behind enemy lines. Baghdad radio hailed the seizure of Khafji as a great military success, personally planned by Saddam Hussein, but Allied General Norman Schwartzkopf said it was military suicide and referred to it as important as a "mosquito on an elephant."
In the SCUD war, Iraq launched another missile at Israel, but it fell harmlessly in the occupied West Bank causing no injuries. At sea, the U.S. Navy reported over 60 Iraqi naval vessels had been destroyed to date.
Senior Iraqi officials flew to Iran today to meet with French, Algerian and Yemenese representatives to discuss ways to end the war. Although no one claimed to be negotiating, Iran's new interest in the war, including her acceptance of nearly one hundred Iraqi airplanes, caused concern in many Western capitals. With Saddam Hussein out of power, Iran would accomplish two objectives: revenge for the eight-year war with Iraq, and a leading role in the post-war Middle East.
Day 17 Friday, February 1, 1991
The six-month anniversary of Iraq's invasion passed with little fanfare as the air war continued hammering Iraqi front line positions. There were no major ground operations on Friday, but a great deal of questioning was going on about the previous day's battle for Khafji. An AC-130 gunship crashed in Southern Iraq with all 14 of its crew listed as missing in action, bringing the total missing in action to 23.
President Bush flew to three military bases for a morale boosting trip; both his and the dependents of the troops. The President delivered a few speeches, but spent most of his time wading into the crowds of supporters shaking hands and having his picture taken. Bush also met with the families of several servicemen who are listed as missing in action.
Day 18 Saturday, February 2, 1991
Another Marine died on Saturday, this time the suspected victim of friendly fire. An allied cluster bomb exploded near his convoy and two other soldiers were wounded. Friendly fire is also suspected in the deaths of seven Marines in the battle of Khafji.
Air activities continued today with concentration being given to attacking the Republican Guards and other front-line units in Kuwait and Southern Iraq. To date, some 37,00 sorties have been launched with 15 U.S. and 7 allied planes lost to hostile fire. As for SCUDs, two more missiles were launched at Israel and one at Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The Israeli-bound SCUDs exploded harmlessly in the West Bank and the Patriot intercepted the missile over Saudi Arabia.
Day 19 Sunday, February 3, 1991
The first B-52 was reported lost in Operation Desert Storm on Sunday. The huge bomber was returning to its base on the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean when it experienced mechanical difficulties and had to put down in the sea. Three of the crewmen from the plane were rescued, but three others were listed as missing, one of which was later reclassified to killed in action.
At sea, the U.S. reported the Iraqi navy had been effectively eliminated as a threat to the allied fleet. Although never regarded as a serious foe, the small patrol boats were capable of carrying Exocet anti-ship missiles which could cause considerable damage to some smaller U.S. ships.
Day 20 Monday, February 4, 1991
The battleship Missouri was brought into action for the first time since the Korean war. Its 16-inch guns pounded an Iraqi command bunker near the Kuwaiti coast and reportedly destroyed it with its one-ton shells.
An offer to mediate the Gulf Crisis came from Iran on Monday with Iranian President Rafsanjani saying any negotiations without Iran would jeopardize "Genuine security" in the region. Rafsanjani's actions were announced following a three-day visit by Iraqi officials who discussed the war with Iran and representatives of several other countries. Iran reiterated its neutral stance, eventhough nearly 100Iraqi aircraft are in their country. The official U.S. reaction was described as "cool" with State Department Spokesmen Margaret Tutwiler asking "what's to mediate?" She did leave the option open for Iran to continue its efforts, but only if they could get Saddam Hussein to comply with all 12 U.N. resolutions.
Day 21 Tuesday, February 5, 1991
To assess the situation in the Gulf, President Bush ordered Secretary of Defense Cheney and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Collin Powell to visit with Allied commanders in the Gulf and obtain a status report on the fighting thus far. Bush doubted that an air war alone would be able to repel the Iraqis from Kuwait but he turned to his military leaders to provide him with the facts and opinions on the necessity of a ground war.
Week Three Report
- Sorties to date:
- Total U.S. Aircraft Losses to date (combat):
- Total Allied Aircraft Losses to date (combat):
- Total U.S. Casualties to date:
- 12 Killed in Action, 24 Missing in Action, 8 Prisoners of War
- Iraqi Aircraft destroyed:
- Iraqi Aircraft in Iran:
- Iraqis Held as P.O.W.'s:
- SCUD's launched to date:
- Against Israel:
- Against Saudi Arabia:
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