The 2nd Marine Division formally established its command post in Saudi Arabia on the 14th of December 1990, upon the arrival of Major General William M. Keys, 2nd Mar Div's commanding general from Camp Lejeune. Since then, units continued to arrive and join the division, retrieving their equipment which was arriving either by ship, or by airplane, or on board the Maritime Prepositioning Squadron 1 (MPS 1). Now that he was in the theater, General Keys believed his two most important and immediate concerns were to train all units for the type of combat he anticipated, and to move the division forward to the operating area as quickly as possible in preparation for offensive operations. The latter intent proved more difficult to do since it had to be executed from the division's initially assigned defensive missions. Nevertheless, at every opportunity, the division displaced forward, so its elements were nearly continuously on the move over a period of two months.
A series of Frag (Fragmentary) Orders were already coming in. A report written by Lt Colonel Dennis P. Mroczkowski states that I MEF Fragmentary Order 006 "tasked the 2nd Marine Division with providing one battalion for the security of 'critical facilities' at Al Jubayl, and to prepare for offensive operations by the 15th of January 1991. On the 25th of December, General Keys took this opportunity to issue the division's first order of Operation Desert Shield. The division's forward CP (Command Post) would displace on the 27th of December and then coordinate the displacement of subordinate units by echelon. By the 7th of January, the division's main CP would be moved to the area known as the "Triangle," with other elements following. At the same time, some of the division's units were still arriving in theater and joining up with their equipment. On the 17th of January, the 2nd Tank Battalion would offload its equipment and leave Al Jubayl, the last unit to close the division. Even as this battalion began to move up, the division was already taking its next stride across the desert."
Within two weeks, 15,248 marines were deployed in the desert north of the Saudi port of Al Jubayl, learning to cope with 110-degree heat and talcum-like sand that covered our bodies and jammed our weapons and equipment. Lt. Gen. Walter E. Boomer, commanding general of the 1 MEF, would lead most of the U.S. Marines’ Gulf War contingent. He is quoted as saying, "The quick arrival of so many marines must have put Saddam Hussein on notice that our president was serious about defending Saudi Arabia."
Displacement of Elements
This displacement mentioned on the 27th included our deployment from Camp Lejeune to our current position in Saudi Arabia. Some elements arrived earlier, some later, but everyone was "in theater" by the start of Desert Storm. The other moves mentioned in the report would continue until all elements were in a forward position and ready for orders. I'll discuss in details in late January about my first "Secret" mission as we conducted a series of raids at the border.
The report goes on to say that on the 9th of January, I MEF issued Fragmentary Order 003 to I MEF Operation Order 006, assigning the 2nd Marine Division a mission to "defeat enemy forces as far forward as possible and to protect vital facilities vice Al Jubayl." The division was tasked to "Defend in zone using supporting arms; screen to west of EPAC TAOR to provide early warning of attack; . . . (and) establish a forward operations base." By the 12th of January the division issued a complementary order, number 1-91, by which the division would displace to "establish defensive positions in sector in order to protect Al Jubayl vital facilities from indirect fire; . . . conduct local counterattacks to restore the MEF zone; . . . (and) assist friendly units in rearward passage of lines." The only manner in which the division would be able to successfully conduct any "counterattacks to restore the MEF zone" would be if it was positioned far to the north. Such a move would not only help to fulfill this mission, but would also be in keeping with General Key's intention to position the division as far forward as possible in preparation for offensive operations prior to the start of the planned air campaign. A move of 190 kilometers north would bring the division to its next position near Al Kibrit, only 60 kilometers from the Kuwaiti border. Al Kibrit and two other towns will be mentioned again later this month when Iraq makes a bold move to invade Saudi territory.
We were still waiting for vehicles and equipment to arrive by ship, and I would soon be assigned to the port at Al Jabayl as part of the orders to protect the port and to help remove the vehicles when they arrived and guard the equipment until each of the units could retrieve them.
Britain Expels Iraqi Diplomats
On a somewhat different note: On this day, the Foreign Office of the U.K. had expelled eight Iraqi embassy officials following threats of attacks on Western targets. The seven diplomats and one security guard were ordered to leave on the grounds that their presence was "not conducive to the public good." The Iraqi Government condemned the expulsions and said it reserved the right to retaliate. As they arrived at Heathrow airport, one of the expelled officials, Naiel Hassan, warned: "If Iraq is attacked then targets in the West will be demolished and all Arabs living abroad will be prepared to take such action." A Foreign Office spokesperson then said that such comments served to justify the expulsions.
The embassy officials were given 24 hours to leave and arrived at Heathrow an hour before the expulsion deadline of 9.00 am. Their families were given a week's notice, but some wives and children were at the airport ready to leave that day. A further 67 Iraqis, mainly students, had been given six days to leave the UK. They were seen as a potential threat to national security.
"A line has been drawn in the sand.
Withdraw from Kuwait unconditionally and immediately,