President George Bush has given Iraq until 1200 EST tomorrow to pull out of Kuwait or face a full-scale land war. Baghdad immediately denounced the U.S. ultimatum of war if Iraqi troops fail to leave Kuwait. The Western Allies are also demanding full withdrawal within a week and Kuwait City to be liberated within 48 hours with a return to legitimate government. Prisoners-of-war should be released within 48 hours, as well.
President Bush declared: "The coalition will give Saddam Hussein until noon Saturday to do what he must do - begin his immediate withdrawal from Kuwait. We must hear publicly and authoritatively his acceptance of these terms."
The Soviets have hurriedly come up with a new peace plan and President Mikhail Gorbachev has spent 90 minutes on the phone discussing this with President Bush. But the proposals are unlikely to be accepted. The Soviet plan requires withdrawal after - rather than before - a ceasefire and makes no guarantees of Kuwaiti sovereignty, the return of the emir or on war reparations. The plan also gives Iraqi forces more time to leave Kuwait - 21 days for total withdrawal.
President Bush said he appreciated President Mikhail Gorbachev's diplomatic efforts but stood by his tough line. He said that while Iraq seemed to be pursuing a peaceful solution by keeping dialogue open it was also maintaining a scorched earth policy by burning Kuwaiti oilfields. "They are destroying the entire oil production system of Kuwait," he said.
The world's biggest oil slick combined with the largest ever oil fire now threatens to create a major environmental catastrophe. In the last 24 hours, the Allies say as many as a quarter of the country's oilfields have been set alight. Millions of barrels of oil have already been dumped into the sea.
Air attacks on the Iraqi capital continued an hour after the ultimatum was issued and BBC reporters there say many Iraqi people would be glad to give up Kuwait to see peace restored to Baghdad.
Fuel for the Fire
Marine aircraft continued to prepare the 1st and 2nd Division's breach points. Harriers, loaded with napalm, attacked the oil-field tank trenches in Kuwait. Marine Hornets also attacked in the trench lines with Fuel Air Explosives (FAEs).
FAEs are known as the "poor man's nuclear bomb." While the destructive power of an FAE is nowhere near that of a thermonuclear device, the devastating effects of this weapon dramatically exceed any conventional weapons. An FAE is a giant aerosol can containing a relatively small and detonating charge. As the weapon falls to earth, a sophisticated detonation system first disperses a flammable liquid in a fine mist, and then detonates the giant cloud over the intended target. The massive fire ball engulfs everything in the area. Along with the fireball comes a horrendous shockwave. The Marines used the FAE to detonate the entire minefields. While they were used to neutralize the Iraqi minefields, any soldiers in the immediate area were killed. The fireball draws all oxygen from the air. Iraqi troops, whether they were in the open or in bunkers, perished in a fiery death.
The 2nd Marine Division continued to pound the Iraqi front-line positions with artillery and MLRS barrages as the 2nd LAI Battalion darted in and out of Kuwait. The Iraqis responded with more artillery and mortar barrages. One Iraqi incoming round wounded two Marines.
The Iraqi artillery was firing from fixed positions. Our radar teams pinpointed each Iraqi position within a three meter radius. They were then destroyed by airstrikes or counter battery artillery fire. During the day, airstrikes, artillery, and rockets rumbled almost continuously. At one point, several Iraqis surrendered to FA-18s. A LAI patrol was called in to collect the prisoners.
3rd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, 8th Marines moved across the berm at 1010 and began screening operations. They engaged enemy infantry with airstrikes and artillery. The enemy posed little threat to us at this point but the smoke from the oil fires turned day into night and produced a very dangerous environment for operations. Marine commanders worried that these conditions would lead to more friendly fire incidents. So, in the middle of the afternoon, the 8th Marines ceased its operations and the Marines returned to the friendly side of the berm.
Multiple Launch Rocket System
The Tiger Brigade, 1st Cavalry, provided fire support for our Division's left flank and were also employing massive MLRS barrages against the Iraqi front line positions. THE MLRS rained down thousands of bomblets on Iraqi positions. One Iraqi Captain, who ordered his men to stand to after a night of MLRS bombardment, found only seven of his one hundred eighty men present. The soldiers not killed by the "Steel Rain" had fled for their lives. Another Iraqi prisoner reported his division artillery lost seven of its sixty four guns to air raids and forty six to MLRS and artillery fires. That's how important our radar systems turned out to be in this war. While the air strikes were causing a lot of damage to the Iraqis, precision artillery strikes, guided by our radar teams, were far more effective. The top brass by now learned something valuable from these strikes - use more "target acquisition missions from the CBR guys."
I included a picture I took when one of the MLRS launchers was firing off its rockets. You can't see the launcher, but the streams of smoke left behind from firing the rockets off are clearly visible. If you are able to look close enough, you'll see the radar shelter (the big box looking thing) on the back of a five ton truck near the right of the picture. It has two tall antennas on the back. To the right of the shelter truck you can see the other five ton truck that was used for troop transport and towing the generator trailer.
Taro and Grizzly
As darkness fell on the 22nd, two Marine task forces from the 1st Marine Division crossed the border into Kuwait, just west of the Wafra oil fields. The 3rd Marine Regiment (Task Force Taro) commanded by Colonel John H. Admire, and the 4th Marine Regiment (Task Force Grizzly) commanded by Colonel James A. Fulks, were infantry units. Under the cover of darkness, Taro and Grizzly advanced on foot, with no tanks, armored vehicles, nor major breaching assets. Their primary weapons were rifles, bayonets, and whatever they could carry on their backs.
TF Taro veered to the right, while TF Grizzly advanced on the left. Both units infiltrated undetected twelve miles into Kuwait and took up attack positions just out of sight of the Iraqi's first line of defense. Before dawn, they dug in and waited for the revealing sunlight to come and go.
Corporal David Jackson, a radio operator with TF Grizzly, recalled that the task force’s marines felt "a lot of excitement and some confusion" but "not a lot of fear" about their mission: "People asked me if I was afraid. The honest answer was `no.’ Our battalion had trained so hard….By the time we got to the Gulf, we really were family."
Corporal Eroshevich recollected a more fatalistic reaction among the marines of Task Force Taro. "We all looked at each other and said, `Well, it was nice knowing you,'” he recalled. "This was pretty much a Nintendo war. But we were going to walk 30 miles and go through a minefield on hands and knees." And Taro’s commander, Colonel Admire, knew his unit faced a daunting task: "It would be clandestine, with no armor, no tractors, or artillery. We were literally going to walk across that minefield."
The 1st Division began its move into Kuwait on February 18, when Maj. Gen. James M. ‘Mike’ Myatt sent reconnaissance teams across the border to look for paths through the first minefield for Taro and Grizzly. The scouts located a clear route in Taro’s sector, but could not find one for Grizzly. Even so, Fulks marched Grizzly into Kuwait shortly after midnight on the twenty-second, stopping most of the regiment just south of the mines, where they could see the minefield but could not be observed by anyone on the other side of the barriers. The marines dug two-man fighting holes and used slight depressions in the desert and camouflage nets to mask their vehicles. Meanwhile, Fulks’ scouts resumed the search for an opening through the mines.
The Faith Letters
A while back I mentioned getting a letter from my sister, Robin when she heard about Marines that were killed near the border. She wrote the letter on January 31st and I was just now receiving it today the 22nd of February. She wrote, "Please tell me you're not near the border. Please tell me you're all right! I want you to come home soon. Before anything happens to you. I don't want you involved in this. Yet at the same time I'm proud of what you're doing. I guess that means I want my 'cake' and eat it too!! I want you to do what's right for your country as long as it doesn't cost you your life. If only I could have that guarantee I would be so much calmer about this situation."
She mentioned hoping that I received her care package and the contents of it. She also wrote, "Grandma insists you'll come back a different person and that the war will change you somehow." My grandmother knew this because she experienced this with her own husband during the Korean War and her sons in the Vietnam War. As much as you want to remain the same, I don't see how anyone can not be changed in one way or another by what they've done, seen, and experienced.
I knew my letter would not reach her until after the ground war started. I wrote, "I know you're worried about me. I'm doing fine. I wish I could give you my faith. If I could, you wouldn't be worried. I can't tell you that I'm not on the front line. I have to be. I need to be. I want to be. And in two days, we're moving into Kuwait. I can tell you this because when you get this letter, it'll be old news. Otherwise I wouldn't say it because I know it would just make you more worried. This will be more dangerous than anything else I've done so far. I still believe that I will be as safe as you are right now. Nothing can touch me. I think that soon this will all be over. Really I think the war is pretty much over already. Bush just wants to destroy as much as he can of Saddam's Army and weapons before he allows Saddam to run like a dog. I also think it's a good idea. To prevent him from stocking up for another attack. I'll be home soon. I know it'll be over by April 15th. That's what I'm praying for. I probably didn't tell you about how the war could have ended on February 15th. I told a friend of mine that if we prayed to God with faith that He would end the war, He will. So I picked February 15th. This was in mid January. I started praying for a few days, but I gave up thinking I was asking too much. Then I heard on February 15th that Saddam agreed to pull out of Kuwait if we would stop bombing. Of course we didn't though. It was like God telling me, 'See, you started praying that I would end the war, but you stopped. I started to end the war, but I stopped.' So I learned a lesson from God about faith. Matthew 17:20, 21:22 are good Scriptures for encouraging faith."
"Now I'm praying that the war will end and I will go home by April 15 or sooner. Anyway, I gotta go for now. I hope to write again soon. Probably from Kuwait."
“And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”