• Chapter 80: War Summary

    March 18, 2016
  • The Iraqi armed forces had extensive experience of warfare. They had just brought an eight year war with Iran to a successful conclusion. The Coalition troops, on the other hand, were largely inexperienced. Britain had fought the Falklands War with marines and paratroopers; this war was fought with tanks and mechanized infantry instead. The Syrians had fought within the last decade in Lebanon, but the 9th Division had not been involved. The Egyptians had last fought a war in 1973, shortly after the US had wound down its involvement in Vietnam. Of the gulf states, only Omani Army had anything approaching extensive combat experience.

    One reason that the Iraqis' experience did them little good was that it was the wrong kind of experience. They had plenty of experience in fighting a positional war of wearing down Iran forces. Instead of helping, this was a positive disadvantage when fighting a mobile campaign; they would have been better off starting fresh without a lot of bad habits.

    Of Iraq's 545,000 troops in the Kuwait Theater of Operations, about 100,000 are believed to have lost their lives. Of Iraq's 44 army divisions, 42 were found to be combat ineffective. By the end of the war, estimated losses of equipment were as followed:

    Total Equipment
      IraqiCoalition
      LostOn handLostOn hand
    Tanks 4,000 4,230 4 3,360
    Artillery 2,140 3,110 1 3,633
    Armored Personal Carriers 1,856 2,870 9 4,050
    Helicopters 7 160 17 1,959
    Aircraft 240 800 44 2,600

    Little known facts about the war:

    On the final night of the war--within hours of the cease-fire--two U.S. Air force bombers dropped specially designed 5,000-pound bombs on a command bunker fifteen miles northwest of Baghdad in a deliberate attempt to kill Saddam Hussein.

    The decision to seek United Nations involvement was part of a larger, more cynical strategy of the Bush administration to circumvent Congress, to bypass the constitutional authority of Congress--and only Congress--to declare war.

    During the very week King Fahd was persuaded to invite U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia in order to defend his monarchy from the alleged threat of an Iraqi invasion, a U.S. intelligence officer who was secretly sent to Kuwait by General H. Norman Schwarzkopf reported that Iraq had began withdrawing its Republican Guard divisions from Kuwait entirely.

    Several weeks before Baghdad was bombed on January 17th, 1991, U.S. intelligence agents successfully inserted a computer virus into Iraq's military computers. It was designed to disable much of Baghdad's air-defense system.

    The largest tank battle of the war, which has previously has gone unreported in any detail, conclusively demonstrated the superiority of American tanks and fighting doctrine over that of the Soviets. As a whole, the battles of the ground war showed that American military maneuverability clearly outclassed the plodding tactics of the Iraqis, who emphasized pitched engagements and linear movements as they had been taught by their Soviet advisers.

    The size of the Iraqi army in the Kuwait Theater of Operations was probably much smaller than claimed by the Pentagon. On the eve of the war, Iraq may have had as few as 300,000 solders, compared to 540,000 estimated by the Pentagon.

    In official reports, the Pentagon has admitted that of the 148 American servicemen and women who perished on the battlefield, 24 percent of the total killed in action were victims of 'friendly fire'. Eleven more Americans were killed when unexploded Allied munitions blew up, raising the 'friendly fire' percent to 31 percent. Most solders said that the thousands of unexploded mines and bomblets they encountered, were more dangerous than enemy fire.

    On January 29, 1991, an Iraqi force, apparently comprising two infantry and one tank battalions, crossed the Kuwait border in an attempt to capture the towns of Kibrit, Khafji, and Mishab, but only successfully capturing Khafji, a deserted Saudi town some 12 miles from the border. Taking the small Saudi garrison by surprise, the Iraqis occupied the town and resisted allied attempts to dislodge them for nearly two days. In the ensuing fighting the Americans suffered their first casualties in ground fighting when 11 marines were killed. The Iraqi losses in men and equipment were far higher, amounting to dozens of dead and hundreds of prisoners.

    The cost of freedom is always high,
    but Americans have always paid it.
    And one path we shall never choose,
    and that is the path of surrender, or submission.
    - John F. Kennedy
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