• Chapter 46: Burning Bridges

    February 10, 2016
  • Three Bridges Destroyed

    Today the Allies flew 2800 sorties. Nearly 500 of those were against the Republican guard. That turned out to be about one strike on a Republican Guard target every three minutes. The remaining sorties focused on other troop concentrations and bridges in Iraq.

    Allied operations against the bridges in southern Iraq came to a climax. On the 10th and 11th, more than 80% of the British combat sorties were flown against bridges. Three bridges were destroyed at Nasiriryah, leaving less than 10% of the bridges still standing between Baghdad and the Kuwaiti border. The cutting of Iraq's lines of communications had been so successful that it now took Saddam 24 hours to get orders to the front.

    From the Iraqi Lieutenant's diary:

    "I woke up along with Lieutenant [redacted], head of the 1st section of my 3rd Tank Company, who was in the same shelter with me, when planes began to attack. We went to the bay trench. The planes left without firing at us. The air raids began, and with them began my descent into the grave (a reference to his foxhole)."

  • History on Saddam, Part 6

    Beginning in the fall of 1981, Iranian forces begin a series of offensives, which soon pushed the Iraqi army back to the border. In September, the Iranians launched their first major successful offensive in Khuzistan. In its next offensive in November, Iran employed a devastating new strategy. Hundreds of thousands of ill-trained and lightly armed Revolutionary Guard volunteers, filled with intense religious fervor, joined the fighting. Led into battle by their clerics, the guards showed little fear of dying, for the regime had taught them that heaven was a martyr's reward. The new Iranian tactic had a terrifying effect on Iraqi soldiers.

    More Iranian offensives followed. In December, Iran succeeded in capturing a key crossroad. It was the only road linking the entire southern sector. A month long Iraqi effort in February to recapture the junction failed, even though Saddam went to the front himself to lead the counter attack. At the end of March, the Iranians achieve yet another, more dramatic victory, pushing the Iraqi army back 30 miles, and taking 15,000 Iraqi prisoners. After that offensive, Syria threw its lot in with Iran, severing Iraq's pipeline to the Mediterranean, which cost Baghdad some $30 million a day in lost revenues. Syria would remain Iran's close ally for the duration of the war.

    It soon became well known in Baghdad that Saddam was nearly captured during the March offensive. While driving around the rear of the fighting, near the Iraqi border, Saddam's convoy was besieged by Iranian troops, unaware of Saddam's presence. He managed to escape.

  • Here to Stay

    On the ground, we were starting to become even more active. Combat scout platoons from the 24th Mechanized Infantry Division conducted recon patrols to the border berm. They surveyed the planned crossing points. Other patrols booby-trapped abandoned Saudi border camps to discourage Iraqi patrols. Radio silence was lifted and the Division began using active electronic warfare collection systems to pinpoint enemy command and control centers. All six of our counter battery radars were activated to detect any incoming artillery shells. Everyone was now within 5 miles from the border and we were here to stay.

    In their continuing operations to blind the Iraqis, helicopters from the 1st Infantry's CC Carter completed the destruction of Iraqi communication antennas at each and every border outpost in their sector. Also, one of CC Carter's ground patrols from B Troop of 1-4 Cavalry captured seven Iraqis prisoners. CC Carter had turned the border area in front of them into a "Black Hole." Any Iraqi that wandered forward were either captured or killed. Forward Iraqi outposts were either isolated or destroyed.

    On the 11th, another Scud was fired at Saudi Arabia and another at Israel. Patriot missiles intercepted both. The Allied air war continued unabated as 2600 more sorties were flown. The Iraqi Air Force had virtually ceased all fixed-wing operations days earlier. However, some Iraqi helicopters were still attempting flights. Patrolling F-15Cs encountered two more Iraqi helicopters on the 11th. The helicopters were quickly shot down.

    From the Iraqi Lieutenant's diary, Monday February 11, 1991:

    "Enemy planes have come back and bombed heavily. We went to the trenches or, rather, the graves. I was very upset when I heard that people born in 1973 are being drafted. That means that my brother [redacted] will have to go into the army. He is naive. He can't (he can't manage by himself). He'll make a fool of himself. He's too picky about his food. Where will he find room for that in the army? And especially this army! How I wish I were with him so I could help him."

    The reason I'm including activity on the 11th today is because I have a special post coming out on the 11th in which I will be addressing a single issue. It is something I struggled with in deciding whether or not I should share it. I decided it would be better if I did. It's not good to keep certain feelings bottle up inside, and perhaps it will help me put it in the past for good so I can move on with my life. It's one of the two secrets I've never shared with anyone. I'm still trying to decide if I should share the second one or not.

    “If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.” 
    ― George Orwell, 1984