Interim Report of the Committee on Armed Services, House of
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
COMMIITEE ON ARMED SERVICES
Washington, D.C., March 30,1992
MEMORANDUM FOR MEMBERS,
COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES
This material is the product of an effort by the Ranking Republican
member, Mr. Dickinson, and myself to make an assessment of the lessons
of the Persia Gulf war. It is intended to serve as a precursor to a
subsequent committee print that will reflect the views of other
Chairman, Committee on Armed Services
Approved for printing
Rudy de Leon, Staff Director
Lawrence J. Cavaiola, Deputy Staff Director
Willision B. Cofer, Senior Professional Staff Member
Robert E. Schafer, Professional Staff Member
Arctue D. Barrett, Professional Staff Member
Warren L. Nelson, Professional Staff Member
Nora Slatkin, Professional Staff Member
Evelyn J. Mackrella, Assistant to the Staff Director
Andrew K. Ellis, Professional Staff Member
Dial L. Dickey, Research Assistant
Vernon A. Guidry, Jr., Professional StaffMember
Lynn L. Reddy, Professional Staff Member
Sharon V. Storey, Staff Assistant
Anne E. Forster, Staff Assistant
Jean D. Reed, Professional StaffMember
Joel B. Resnick, Professional StaffMember
Steven A. Thompson, Prof Staff Member
Kathleen A. Lipovac, Staff Assistant
John D. Chapia, Prof Staff Member
Karen S. Heath, Prof Staff Member
Michael R. Higgins, Subcmt. Prof Staff Member
Edward J. Holton, Prof Staff Member
Mary C. Cotten, Staff Asststant
Marilyn A. Elrod, Prof Staff Member
Thomas M. Garwin, Prof Staff Member
Peter M. Steffes, Prof Staff Member
William J. Andahszy, Prof Staff Member
Douglas H. Necessary, Prof Staff Member
Stephen O. Rossetti, Jr., Prof Staff Member
Robert S. Rangel, Subcmt. Prof Staff Member
Mary C. Redfern, Staff Assistant
Clark A. Murdock, Prof Staff Member
Christopher Williams, Subcmt. Prof Staff Member
Henry J. Schweiter, Counsel
Emily Deck, Staff Assistant
Wade H. Heck, Prof Staff Member
Bud Miller, GAO Detailee
Ronald J. Bartek, Prof Staff Member
Roy Kirk, GAO Detailee
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ISSUES FOR THE FUTURE
The New Battlefield Balance xii
Mix of Forces xii
Communications That Work xii
Tactical Missile Defenses (TMD) xiii
Makeup of the post-Cold War Navy xiii
OPERATION DESERT STORM EXAMINED:
CONDUCT OF THE WAR IN SOUTHWEST ASIA
Historical Legacy 4
Prelude to War: No Rotation Policy Limits Choices 6
Air Power: The Most Significant Factor in Winning War 7
Air Power as an Instrment of War 8
The Air Tasking Order 9
Tank Plinklng and Other Operation Desert Storm Innovation 10
Interservice Fights Avoided 11
Ground Campaign Ultimately Forced Iraqi Military Out of Kuwait 12
Deception Works 12
Plans to Fight in Europe Created Problems in Southwest Asia 13
Using Ground Contingency Units 15
What the War Reveals About Our Military 16
High Tech Works 16
Benefits of High Tech in the Air Campaign 17
Benefits of High Tech on the Ground 19
U.S. Troops Most Qualified Ever 21
Communications Hampered by Old, Incompatible Equipment 22
Tactical Missile Defenses Succeed
Politically, Raise Technical Questions 24
Minehunting on Land and at Sea 25
Counting the Iraqi Army 29
Table I : Accounting for the Iraqi Army 32
Table II: Accounting for the Iraqi Troops:
A Rough Estimate of Enemy Strength 33
The New Battlefield Balace 34
New Thinking About Tooth to Tail 34
Complexity of Warfare Requires Sophisticated Support 36
Striving for a Balanced Military 38
Balace in the Force Structure 39
Balance Within Weapon Systems 39
Goldwater-Nichols Played a Crucial Role 41
Goldwater-Nichols Fosters Jointness 41
Unity of Commad Was Key 42
Jointness Problems Still Remain 42
PROVIDING THE FORCES:
U.S. PERSONNEL IN THE PERSIAN GULF CRISIS
The All Volunteer Force (AVF) 45
How Would the AVF Fight 46
But is it Fair? 47
Women in the Services 48
The Guard & Reserve 49
Planing for World War III 49
Mobilization -- In Pieces by Improvisation 50
The Shift to an Offensive Option 51
The Mobilization 52
Evolution of the Call-Up 53
Making Units Ready and Measuring Them 53
What Happened? 58
Large Combat Units A Special Case 59
Overall Impact of Army Guard and Reserve 60
Marine Corps 61
The Mobilization 61
How the Marine Mobilization Evolved 62
Caught in Midst of Revitalization 62
Making Units Ready for Deployment 63
In-Theater Training 64
Into Combat as Smaller Units 66
Combat Support and Service Support: A Special Case 66
Overall Impact of Marine Reserve 67
Air Force 68
The Mobilization 68
Tailored to Meet Requirements 69
Reserve After Active 70
Overall Impact of Air Force Guard and Reserve 70
The Mobilization 71
Tailored to Meet Needs 72
Overall Impact of Navy Reserve 72
NAVAL QUARANTINE IN THE PERSIAN GULF CRISIS
The Naval Quarantine 76
Typical Interdiction Operations 77
Importance of Training 77
Command and Control of MIF Operations 77
MIF Stopped Flow of Prohibited Items 78
MIF Effect on Iraqi Warfighting Uncertain 78
PLANNING FOR OPERATIONS DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM
CENTCOM' s New Pl:ning Focus 83
Planning the Air Campaign 84
Planned Air Campaign Had Four Phases 86
Planing for the Ground Offensive 87
Low Casualties the Highest Goal 88
In August 1990, Iraqi forces directed by Saddam Hussein poured
over the border into Kuwait. The ensuing crisis led to war -- the
first major military clash of the post-Cold War era.
For 43 days in early 1991, the armed forces of the United States
and a multi-national coalition fought a successful military campaign
to expel Saddam Hussein's forces from Kuwait.
It is vital that we fully understand the lessons of the war in
Southwest Asia and what they mean for our future. In the months after
hostilities ceased, the House Armed Services Committee conducted
hundreds of interviews with nearly 1,000 individuals who experienced
the war first hand.
The committee is grateful to Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney,
for making the military personnel who planned and implemented
Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm available for interview. Without
his assistance and that of the staff within the Office of the
Secretary of Defense, our effort would not have been possible.
One of the most important lessons to be learned is that this war
was unique in many ways. Many of its most salient features -- not
least the foolhardiness of our adversary -- are not likely to be
repeated in future conflicts. Nevertheless, we strongly believe that
Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm has given us, as we say in our
report, "an unprecedented and invaluable opportunity to measure,
challenge and adjust the policies and assumptions that will drive U.S.
defense budgeting and strategy in the years ahead."
The publication of these Findings -- Defense For A New
Era/Lessons of the Gulf War -- is part of a continuing effort by the
House Armed Services Committee to understand the momentous changes
taking place in the world and to contribute to the debate on how we
should respond to these changes.
Les Aspin William L. Dickinson
(1) The decisive factor in the war with Iraq was the air campaign, but
groundforces were necessary to eject the Iraqis from Kuwait.
--The mass and precision of the air campaign stunned the Iraqi
leadership and military from the war's outset, and stopped most
logistic support and ground movement in selected areas.
--Early and complete air supremacy allowed allied forces
flexibility in the conduct of the air campaign and denied Iraqi
commanders the intelligence they needed from aerial reconnaissance.
--Centralized control of fixed-wing aircraft in the theater
contributed to effectiveness of the air campaign.
--The air campaign against ground targets was effective with
greatly reduced collateral damage compared to earlier campaigns.
--U.S. Army and Marine forces skillfully executed an ambitious
ground campaign while a Marine force afloat pinned down Iraqi forces
with the threat of an amphibious landing in Kuwait.
(2) The effective use of high technology was a key reason for both the
high level of performance of air and ground forces, and the
minimization of allied casualties.
-- A new precision in the delivery of weapons made them more
effective than in the past and reduced collateral damage.
-- Survivability of aircraft and aircrews was enhanced by
stealth, defense suppression, increased use of pilotless weapons and
stand-off range weapons. High availability rates for aircraft were
promoted by maintainability in new systems. These factors, in turn,
increased sortie rates and allowed the air campaign in particular to
develop and sustain a devastating momentum.
--Greater target acquisition ranges and more effective fire
enabled ground forces to engage enemy forces at distances beyond the
range of enemy sensors.
-- Night vision devices enabled around-the-clock operations for
Army ground forces, but Marines lacked this capability.
-- Land navigation through the use of the Global Positioning
System enabled commanders to execute the so-called "Left Hook"
through open, nearly featureless desert with unprecedented speed and
(3) The war with Iraq also demonstrated technology-related problems.
--U.S. forces, particularly in the air campaign, could have been
more effective had there been a greater ability to process and
disseminate target and other information, especially the assessment of
damage done by allied air strikes.
--One-target, one-round precision, coupled with long ranges and
inadequate ability to distinguish between friend and foe, produced one
of the most distressing problems of the war: casualties of friendly
fire. U.S. forces lack effective means to distinguish between enemy
targets and friendly forces in the midst of battle.
--In many instances, the readiness rates and operating tempos of
primary platforms such as aircraft, tanks and fighting vehicles
outpaced the ability of support structures and equipment. For
instance, aerial tankers became a limiting factor in air operations.
--Communications are still plagued by incompatibilities between
services, inadequacies between levels of command, as well as by
--The military effectiveness of our existing defense against
tactical ballistic missiles has been questioned. The Patriot
antimissile system performed well in its intended role of point
defense of installations such as ports and airfields. Most of the
questions focus on the issue of how well the Patriot system defended
population centers -- a job for which it was not designed.
--U.S. forces on land and sea continue to be woefully unprepared
for mine clearing and breaching operations.
(4) The Total Force Policy, requiring the integration of reserve
components in a major contingency, was a success.
--The timely provision of combat support and combat service
support by reserve components was thoroughly tested and proved vital
--Service planning was largely preoccupied with mobilization for
a war in Europe. Reorienting mobilization planning to address a crisis
in Southwest Asia required a hasty, ad hoc effort. For example, Army
National Guard combat units -- trained and configured for a war in
Europe -- mobilized and trained for Operation Desert Storm but were
--The readiness of reserve component units reporting to
mobilization stations for deployment to the Persian Gulf varied
--In-theater training for reserve components in a crisis such as
that in the Persian Gulf cannot be expected to dramatically improve
basic combat skills but can assist in training for specific missions.
(5) The quality and framing of the All Volunteer Force proved
instrumental in meeting the demands of a highspeed, high-tech conflict
in the harsh environment of Southwest Asia.
--A smart, motivated force proved capable of maintaining and
operating the most sophisticated military equipment in use.
--The force did not place an excessive burden of the battle on
racial minorities or the economically disadvantaged.
--Realistic and demanding peacetime training of U.S. forces
provided the foundation upon which victory was achieved.
(6) No firm, accurate figures now exist for the number of Iraqi troops
in the Kuwaiti Theater of Operations, nor for the number killed during
the war, but it may be that U.S. forces faced as few as 183,000 Iraqi
troops the day the ground war began.
--U.S. commanders were understandably and correctly more
interested in counting equipment that could affect the ground battle,
such as tanks and artillery pieces, than they were in enumerating
--Early estimates of Iraqi troop strength were based on
multiplying the number of Iraqi divisions known to be in the Kuwaiti
Theater of Operations by the number of troops a textbook Iraqi
division was supposed to have. This number proved to be inflated.
--Analysis of captured documents may be the only way to arrive at
firmer estimates of the actual Iraqi order of battle and indirectly of
(7) The Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of
1986 assured that all the services were fighting the same war.
--There was a single chain of command with a clear-cut
distinction between military and civilian roles with the theater
commander in chief in unmistakable control over combat forces.
--Despite the progress made, problems of joint operation were still
experienced; for instance, in the withholding of some combat air
assets from the overall plan of the air campaign.
ISSUES FOR THE FUTURE
The New Battlefield Balance. Technological advances have made
warfare swifter and more deadly. The long-sought multiplier effect of
high technology has allowed individual platforms to perform tasks that
took larger numbers of platforms in the past. These platforms are
approaching the effectiveness of one-target, one-round accuracy. These
adv:anes have exposed and exacerbated a support deficit, particularly
in trucks, tankers and dissemination of tactical information. How this
imbalance is addressed in an era of declining resources will determine
whether the nation is able to realize the full return on its enormous
investment in high-tech weapon systems.
Mix of Forces. Quickly deploying soldiers of the 82nd Airborne
Division and Marines from the 1St Marine Division arrived in Saudi
Arabia soon after the invasion of Kuwait to deter an attack by Saddam
Hussein's forces. Some of the individuals involved in this early
deployment referred to themselves as "speed bumps," meaning they
would do little more than slow Saddam's armored forces if those forces
chose to press the attack. The postwar challenge is deciding the
proper role of light ground forces in contingency planning and
operations that the United States is likely to face in the future.
Communications that work. Soldiers just outside shouting range of
each other were often unable to communicate by radio. Pilots aloft,
not of different nations but merely of different U.S. services, were
also often unable to speak to each other on safely encoded radio
circuits. The challenge for the future is to ensure that U.S. forces
are equipped with the means to communicate with one another.
Tactical Missile Defenses (TMD). Independent of the debate over
the degree of success that the Patriot missiles had in their TMD role
against Iraqi Scuds, the political and military utility of mobile
theater defenses was demonstrated unequivocally during Operation
Desert Storm. Although some critics contend that the lessons leamed
from the employment of the Patriot missile in a TMD role are
negligible due to the low-tech nature of 20 year-old Scud technology,
it should not be forgotten that the Patriot is, itself, based on 20
The global proliferation of ballistic missile technology and
weapons of mass destruction has become one of the most immediate and
dangerous threats to U.S. national security in the post Cold War era.
Over time, this threat will most likely evolve from today's
shorter-range, inaccurate missiles in the direction of more
sophisticated, longer-range and increasingly accurate systems.
Therefore, the question of how the U.S. can modernize its TMD
capabilities to best ensure that its forward deployed and power
projection forces possess effective defenses against future tactical
ballistic missile threats is paramount.
Makeup of the post-Cold War Navy. The deficiencies in mine
countermeasure capability demonstrated in the PersianGulf conflict
raise broader questions about the future configuration of the U.S.
Navy. For the future, the Navy must be prepared to meet the more
likely threats of a new era.
Operation Desert Storm Examined:
Conduct of the War in Southwest Asia
In exploring the lessons of the Persian Gulf war, it is essential
first to establish the applicable caveats and limit the usefulness of
lessons learned to future contingencies. As a senior U.S. commander,
not without hyperbole, said:
Desert Storm was the perfect war with the perfect enemy. The
enemy leader was universally despised and his troops offered very
little resistance. We had the perfect coalition, the perfect
infrastructure and the perfect battlefield. We should be careful
about the lessons we draw from the war.
While this may overstate the point, it highlights the need for
caution in drawing the right lands of conclusions about this war and
then applying them universally to the conduct of future conflicts.
On the other hand, it is equally important to acknowledge that
certain aspects of this war are directly applicable to the type of
conflicts U.S. forces might face in the future. For instance, the
strategic air campaign against the Iraqi network of fixed, heavily
defended targets provides a strategy that will likely apply to a
variety of scenarios the U.S. military may face. Similarly, Iraq's
centrally controlled military offers a potential model of the threat
posed by previous Soviet clients.
A final factor to consider is that others are analyzing the
stunning U.S. military success as well. Many adjustments are likely to
be made in the equipment and tactics of military forces around the
world in the hope that they do not meet Iraq's fate.
In sum, military operations in Operation Desert Storm provide an
unprecedented and valuable opportunity to measure, challenge and
adjust the policies and assumptions that will provide the framework
for U.S. defense budgeting and strategy in the years ahead.
The capabilities and philosophies central to the success of
Operation Desert Storm were a result of the sometimes painful
twenty-year post-Vietnam evolution of the way the U.S. military
equipped, trained and organized itself for combat. The lingering
lessons of previous conflicts and incidents were all found somewhere
in the fabric of Operation Desert Storm.
The defining experience for most of the senior civilians and
officers who conceived and commanded Operation Desert Storm was the
Vietnam War. Its lessons and failures all formed a powerful set of
convictions about how to and how not to conduct a future war. One
senior commander said:
All of us who went through Vietnam were aghast at many of the
things done in running that war. And, at the beginning of this one,
one way or another we were all at that point in life where we could
have easily retired. But we wanted to do the job right for the
country. We were told that if we were going to fight, we were going to
fight to win. So we decided that if we were going to go after him [the
enemy], we were going to take his head off.
Thus, many of the Vietnam War's principal shortcomings --
incremental build up of forces, fascination with statistical measures
of success, divided, service-oriented command and micromanagement from
Washington -- were scrupulously avoided during this war.
Another powerful set of lessons leamed from Operation Desert
Storm can be traced to America's humiliation during Desert One, the
failed attempt to rescue the American hostages from Iran in 1979. The
failure of the military at that time to have
effective, deployable special operations forces capable of a
successful rescue mission led to a considerable investment of
resources and effort to remedy the problem. As a result, mature and
flexible special forces were able to contribute to the success of
Operation Desert Storm.
Desert One also displayed a fractured chain of command and
highlighted the existing shortcomings of planning and executing
effective interservice operations. These problems manifested
themselves throughout the early 1980s and helped lead to the
Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986.
The Grenada Operation in 1983 had a special relevance to
Operation Desert Storm. The Deputy Commander of the Joint Task Force
was then-Major General H. Norman Schwarzkopf. It is unlikely that the
problems caused by the operational division of Grenada along service
boundaries were lost on the future Operation Desert Storm commander.
In stark contrast, Operation Desert Storm featured the first truly
unified military operation under the Fran control of the theater
Commander in Chief (CINC), as required by the Goldwater-Nichols
The 1983-84 military experience in Beirut was also marked by a
disastrous fragmentation and ambiguity of command that contributed to
the deaths of more than 200 Marines. Again, this fragmentation of
command stands in contrast to the clearly established, direct lines of
authority used in Operation Desert Storm, where orders traveled from
the White House to the Secretary of Defense through the Chairman,
Joint Chiefs of Staffs, to the military officer in charge of the
operation, General Schwarzkopf.
Finally, the fresh memory of Operation Just Cause in Panama in
1989 validated the use of overwhelming force to achieve limited
military objectives. The value of this lesson was central to the
approach taken in deploying the massive 550,000- man force used to
Just as Vietnam and subsequent operations were the points of
reference for the U.S. military throughout the seventies and eighties,
Operation Desert Storm will now be the yardstick against
which the most significant military hardware and policy questions for
the future will be measured. The instinctive question will no longer
be "What did the failures of Vietnam teach us about this or
that?" but rather "How well did we do against Iraq with this
technology or with that doctrine?"
Prelude to War: No Rotation Policy Limits Choices
As the defensive force buildup continued, each service developed
plans to sustain its forward deployments. Units were identified to
replace the forces first sent to Southwest Asia in case there was a
The Pentagon does not have a standard rotation policy, so a
debate on this issue began in earnest. Two issues fueled discussion
-- concern for soldiers' welfare in a harsh environment and the
realization that a rotation policy could drive larger decisions on the
deployment. Questions arose about how long troops could remain in
Saudi Arabia without either fighting or leaving. If U.S. forces were
to remain in the theater through the spring and summer of 1991, a
rotation policy would have been necessary because of the impacts on
morale and the ability to sustain readiness levels.
On the other hand, early commitment to a rotation policy could
have foreclosed an early military option. Beginning to move troops in
and out of the theater would create turbulence and distract
Notwithstanding Administration statements that no decision had
been made, the President's November 8 announcement to send more troops
to Saudi Arabia amounted to a choice on rotation. The additional
deployment severely constrained DOD's ability to implement a rotation
policy over an extended period.
When Congress authorized the President to use military force in
January 1991, the question of rotation became moot.
AIR POWER: THE MOST SIGNIFICANT FACTOR IN WINNING WAR
The war began with simultaneous air strikes against all elements
of the Iraqi military and its support structure. Bombing then
continued around-the-clock every day. The mass and precision of the
attack induced systemic shock and paralysis from which the political
and military leadership never recovered.
The early attainment of air supremacy enabled allied forces to
isolate the battlefield by interdicting enemy supply lines and
degrading command and control links. Air supremacy also allowed
coalition forces to conduct cross-border reconnaissance and aggressive
deception and harassment operations with virtual impunity.
The air campaign blinded the Iraqi military and eliminated its
ability to detect movement or massing of coalition forces. This
allowed ground force commanders to cloak the massive movement of over
two corps of troops, equipment and supplies to setup the "Left
Hook" maneuver that proved so successful. The "Left Hook" was
a massive movement of ground forces westward to avoid Iraqi defenses.
Finally, the air campaign drastically wore down the ability and
the will of the Iraqi Army to fight. Iraqi ground forces were so
devastated and demoralized by the time the ground war started that
they lacked the conviction to fight for their own soil, much less
Kuwait. One senior Army division commander said, "The Iraqi
soldier's lack of will to fight was due very much to the [air
campaign's] preparation of the battlefield. When we got on his flanks
and his rear, he surrendered. The defeat of the Iraqi Army was the
result of the synergism between our air and ground forces."
Air Power as an Instrument of War
During the planning stage of Operation Desert Storm, air power
advocates hoped that a concentrated strategic air campaign against
Saddam's political, economic and military centers would force Iraq to
withdraw from Kuwait and eliminate the threat to the region posed by
the Baath regime without resorting to ground warfare. These were
hoped-for results, never official objectives, and they were not
achieved. The air campaign did not force Saddam to withdraw and
despite its military effectiveness, did not lead to his overthrow.
Consequently, valid questions remain about the limits of air power to
achieve largely political goals.
However, the use of increasingly precise air power permitted the
pursuit of specific military objectives such as disabling targets
rather than destroying them while seeking to minimize damage to Iraqi
society. Whether the attempt to limit the war's impact on civilians
was successful remains in question, awaiting a more careful analysis.
The Air Tasking Order
In contrast to Vietnam, where as many as four independent air
chains of command operated autonomously, General Schwarzkopf
established a highly effective joint chain of command for air
operations. This design pooled all fixed-wing aircraft in the theater
under the control of the Joint Forces Air Component Commander (JFACC),
General Charles Homer. Using computer capabilities not available in
previous major conflicts, the JFACC could match the most appropriate
weapons in the pool with the targets. The result of the daily matching
process was the Air Tasking Order (ATO).
The ATO created a carefully integrated campaign, choreographing
thousands of daily air sorties into Iraq and the Kuwaiti theater of
operations from multiple points in the Arabian peninsula, Spain,
England, Turkey and elsewhere all without a single midair collision or
accidental shoot-down of friendly aircraft.
Despite its success, the process had its detractors. The most
frequent complaints faulted the JFACC staff, an Air Force dominated
organization, for forcing "Air Force approaches" on the other
Another complaint found the ATO guilty of hindering services'
ability to cope with real-time battlefield developments. The story of
two brothers, one a Navy pilot and the other an Air Force pilot,
provides an illustration. During the air campaign, the Persian Gulf
Carrier Task Force came across intelligence that revealed several MIGs
parked at an Iraqi airfield. This information was passed repeatedly to
Riyadh by the Navy with an urgent request for a tasking in the ATO to
attack the target. The next few ATOs arrived without the tasking. The
carrier air wing commanders once again contacted Riyadh to say,
"Hey guys, this is a great juicy target. Let us take it out."
Again the ATO arrived without the tasking. Eventually, the Navy pilot
called his brother, the Air Force pilot, at Al Kharj Air Base through
the commercial satellite hook-up and told him about the target. The
next day, the Navy pilot received a message from his brother that
said, "Mission accomplished. Thanks for the DFC!" (Distinguished
Some Marines echoed that complaint and also expressed serious
concerns that the battlefield preparation was inadequate and
inconsistent with the ground commanders' targeting priorities. At
first, the Marines took matters into their own hands by routinely and
systematically diverting sorties from their preplanned targets to
"more urgent" targets or stuffed the ATO with "dummy"
sorties to put extra aircraft in the air.
As time went on, the Marines began removing their aircraft from
the pool of assets available to the JFACC. They withdrew approximately
half of their F/A- 18s so they could concentrate on preparing the
battlefield in the KTO. By the time the ground campaign began, they
had taken back almost all the rest.
Despite the resistance of the Marine Corps and minor problems in
the ATO execution, the central lesson of the air campaign should be
clear: combining responsibility and unquestioned authority in the CINC
-- in this case as delegated to his Joint Forces Air Component
Commander -- for the planning and deployment of all theater aircraft
optimizes the achievement of campaign objectives.
Tank Plinking and Other Operation Desert Storm Innovations
In the heat of the conflict, necessity prompted innovation.
Unlike the ponderous peacetime acquisition and doctrine development
process, the press of baNe inevitably generated new tactics and
unconventional uses of equipment.
One example was the development of "tank plinking" to
destroy Iraqi tanks buried in the sand or concealed in berms. U.S.
forces discovered that the residual heat retained by the metal tanks
showed up on F- 111 infrared sensors at night. This enabled Fl 1 IFs,
F-l5Es and, to a lesser degree, A-6s to target and systematically
destroy tanks that otherwise were difficult to detecc However, the
final measure of success awaits further detailed analysis of post-war
Many new uses were also found for the A- 10, long believed by
many in the Air Force to be too slow and too old for the battlefield.
A significant portion of the A-10 fleet was slated for retirement
before the war. But during Operation Desert Storm, the A-10 proved
effective far beyond its assigned close air support and battlefield
Although A-10s have no inherent night fighting capability, crews
found they could engage targets at night using the infrared seeker on
the Maverick missiles they carried. Once they made this discovery,
A-l0s flew against air defense sites, flew combat air patrols against
Scud launchers and provided armed escort for search and rescue
A senior Air Force commander said, "In a low altitude
environment, nothing can compare with the A- 10. It absolutely
decimated first echelon forces." An Army analyst added, "We
found out that the A-10 stood out as the aircraft which struck fear in
the Iraqis, both psychologically and for its effectiveness."
A final example of innovation during the actual conduct of the
war is the remarkable development of a new specialized munition, the
GBU-28 5,000 lb. deep-penetrating bomb. Unable to destroy a
well-protected bunker north of Baghdad after repeated direct hits, Air
Force commanders sought new ideas. Within weeks the GBU-28 was created
from a surplus Army eight-inch gun tube filled with conventional
explosive and a modified laser guidance kit from the GBU-27 bomb. A
few weeks later, the first two GBU-28s were dropped on targets the
same day the bombs arrived in Saudi Arabia. One destroyed the bunker,
which was protected by more than 30 feet of earth, concrete and
Interservice Fights Avoided
The sheer abundance of assets such as aircraft, airfields and
tankers allowed the air campaign generally to accommodate all service
points of view on the priorities of the air war. Since the three
phases of the air plan strategic, interdiction and battlefield
preparation -- were rolled into a single, massive campaign against
all targets, differing service perspectives on the "proper" way
to allocate and sequence air power to targets were more easily
The Air Force emphasized establishing early air superiority and
pursuing strategic objectives within Iraq. The Navy emphasized
neutralizing threats to the fleet, primarily Iraqi enemy aircraft and
anti-ship capable systems. The Army placed priority on the
interdiction of Iraqi forces in the Kuwaiti theater of operations
(KTO). Even CENTCOM was able to impose its priority on the targeting
of Republican Guard units from the outset.
There were disputes among the Army, Marines and the Air Force
over how best to prepare the battlefield. Ultimately, Deputy CINC
General Calvin Waller had to step in and arbitrate these targeting
disputes. And as the previous discussion on the ATO revealed, the
Marines ended up pursuing their emphasis on preparing the battlefield
outside the JFACC process, for the most part. Despite these
disagreements, the battlefield was wellprepared for the ground
campaign in the end.
GROUND CAMPAIGN ULTIMATELY FORCED IRAQI MILITARY OUT OF KUWAIT
U.S. forces relied on superior training, equipment and mobility
to overwhelm the enemy with maneuver and deception, achieving victory
with minimal allied and civilian casualties. The swift and decisive
victory of the ground campaign is a tribute to years of tough and
demanding training by the Army and Marines for large-scale, complex,
The astute use of deception kept Iraqi commanders constantly
guessing the status and intention of coalition forces. Deception was
ultimately a key factor in keeping a significant number of Iraqi
forward units and tactical and operational reserves out of the ground
For example, the presence of a credible Marine Corps amphibious
force off the coast of Kuwait tied down at least six Iraqi divisions.
To reinforce the perception of an irnnunent amphibious assault, Navy
SEAL teams conducted deception operations off the coast the day before
the start of the ground war. Based on captured documents, prisoner
interviews and the study of defensive emplacements along the coast, it
is clear that the Iraqi Army believed the Marines intended to storm
the beaches near Kuwait City.
The use of the Army's VII Corps provides another example of the
successful use of deception. The VII Corps initially was deployed to
the center of the KTOinanarea east of Wadi al-Batin to mislead the
Iraqis into believing that the main attack would come from the south,
not from the desert to the west. That impression was emphasized by the
1st Cavalry Division's maneuvers. First they conducted intensive
cross-border operations as apparent preparations for war. Then they
performed a limited holding attack east of the Wadi on the first day
of the ground war, tying down four Iraqi forward divisions.
Task Force Troy, a 460-man Marine phantom division deployed south
of Kuwait, used tank and aillllery decoys and loudspeakers blaring
tank noises across a 30-liilometer front. The unit never had more than
five tanks, but by constantly moving and firing from various decoy
positions, it created the iliusion of a much larger armored force.
Plans to Fight in Europe CreatedProblems in Southwest Asia
Operation Desert Storm began shortly after the Warsaw Pact threat
collapsed and highlighted certain challenges and problems the services
must confront in the transition from the Cold War to the new world
order. The Defense Department's focus on fighting a war in Europe
created deployment, logistics and combat capability problems that
could have hurt our effectiveness if the war had begun earlier or
lasted longer than it did.
On the day Iraqi tanks rolled into Kuwait City, the Army's
"first to fight" units were either in Europe or in the United
States earmarked for Europe. Consistent with a "Europe first"
strategy, the Army's modernization program provided its force
stationed in Europe with frontline equipment largely at the expense of
the remaining Army units. Consequently, units charged with supporting
Southwest Asia contingencies initially deployed with older, less
capable equipment. This problem had to be corrected in theater by
replacing early- version M1 tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles with
Units earmarked for Europe had planned to fight in Europe using
supplies (Prepositioned Material Conflgured to Unit Sets or POMCUS)
already positioned in Europe. These units said their first significant
challenge in Operation Desert Storm was coming to terms with deploying
and possibly fighting with the equipment they had on hand. Unlike the
Marines and the AirForce, the Army had very limited prepositioned
equipment in Southwest Asia for arriving forces.
The orientation toward fighting in Europe also caused problems in
Operation Desert Storm in certain key support systems. Equipment has
been procured for the last 20 years on the assumption that if it could
perform against the Soviet threat in Europe, it could perform
anywhere. However, Operation Desert Storm provided some examples to
the contrary. For instance, the backbone of Army field communications,
the Mobile Subscriber Equipment (MSE) system, was created for the
confined, defensively-oriented European battlefield. Even though it
was specifically designed to be mobile, it could not be reconfigured
quickly enough to keep up with U.S. forces in the desert. Nor could it
operate over these long distances.
Using Ground Contingency Units
Contingency units from the 82nd Airborne Division and the 1St
Marine Division formed the backbone of the fust defensive ground
forces deployed after the invasion of Kuwait. Their fast reaction
capability allowed them to be deployed to the theater within days of
the Saudi government's decision to allow U.S. troops on their soil.
However, the 82nd Airborne and the 1St Marine Divisions are only
lightly armed and not particularly well suited for the kind of open
desert, heavy armor warfare required to counter Iraqi forces. Senior
commanders admitted having serious concerns during the early days of
the deployment about the ability of these light infantry units to
defend credibly against an Iraqi thrust into Saudi Arabia. One Marine
officer noted that they considered themselves a mere "speed
bump" that only could have slowed the Iraqi armor advance, not
As preparations for the ground war accelerated, it became clear
that there was no need to use the 82nd Division's unique ability to
conduct a parachute drop. So the division was split into brigades and
parceled out to a variety of missions. One brigade was attached to the
French 6th Division, while the other two went to assembly areas in
rented civilian Saudi buses. There they joined a convoy of trucks to
assume a follow-on role during the ground war as motorized infantry
support for the 24th Mechanized Division.
Meanwhile, the 1st Marine Division became part of the Marine
force that later crossed Iraqi barriers and mineflelds into Kuwait to
conduct the supporting attack towards Kuwait City. The Division was
adequately equipped for this role, which also placed it in a position
where it could have joined Marines coming ashore from an amphibious
landing. In sum, the 1st Marine Division was employed appropriately
during the ground war.
The employment of the 82nd Airborne Division and the 1st Marine
Division during Operation Desert Storm raises two questions, however.
The first is the makeup of contingency forces. They must be rapidly
deployable, but further consideration must be given to their ground
mobility and how they are armed.
The second question is the match between the size of the
contingency forces and their special capabilities. Although sensible
uses were found for the 82nd Division, its unique ability was not
required. Less than a full division may be able to provide adequate
capability to conduct parachute drops in the future.
WHAT THE WAR REVEALS ABOUT OUR MILITARY
High Tech Works
Technology gave U.S. forces and their equipment the mobility,
precision and battlefield awareness to bridge the historical gap
between planning objectives and battlefield results. U.S. forces
accomplished what they set out to do. Virtually every frontline weapon
system used in the war had come under criticism at least once during
its history for being overly complex, too dependent on temperamentai
technology or not dependable enough to perform reliably under the
rigors of combat. Unlike our experience in previous military
conflicts, the performance of U.S. equipment and forces in Operation
Desert Storm exceeded even the most optimistic expectations.
A senior Army commander commented, "Even after the ceasefire,
our weapons and equipment were still running at over 90 percent
operational rates." An officer with the 1st Cavalry Division
attested to the reliability of their frontline equipment by saying,
"Ninety-eight percent of my brigade's equipment moved 300
kilometers during the fust 24 hours of the ground war. That included
116 out of 117 of our MlAls and60out of 60 of our Bradley Fighting
Electronics-intensive tanks, airplanes and missiles performed
well in one of the most harsh and demanding environments imaginable.
In particular, the turbine-powered Ml tank lived and fought in the
gritty desert for extended periods of time without losing its combat
capability. Frontline aircraft laden with sensitive electronics
deployed and operated from austere airfields with consistent
Although much of this success is due to the remarkable job
performed by thousands of maintenance crews, the fears of those who
advocated trading simplicity for complexity to get greater numbers
simply did not come true.
Benefits of High Tech in the Air Campaign
High technology allowed air power to achieve strategic military
objectives. The precise nature of the air campaign makes it possible
to pursue strategic objectives with less likelihood of inflicting
massive daniage and loss of life on civilian populations.
High technology improved the effectiveness of several key
components of the air campaign. The first is precision. Precise weapon
delivery was the trademark of the Operation Desert Storm air campaign,
as demonstrated by the destruction of roughly 50 military targets in
Baghdad without significantly harming the other 500,000 buildings and
structures in the city. Precision delivery was evident in the campaign
against support infrastructure and dug-in forces in the Kuwaiti
theater of operations.
Precision plus innovation yielded tank plinking. Precision
increased pilot safety by reducing sorties required to hit a target
and allowed the majority of air strikes from altitudes above 12,000
feet. Precision permitted discriminate choice between disabling
targets and destroying them.
Precision harnessed the destructive force of strike warfare into
a more disciplined instrument able to achieve maiimum effects with
minimal force -- even to the point that precision munitions
destroyed hardened targets previously thought vulnerable only to
The second key component of the air campaign enhanced by high
technology is aircraft survivability. The remarkable survivability
record in Operation Desert Storm allowed consistently high sortie
rates, which in turn allowed the devastating momentum of the campaign
to build. Aircraft survivability was also increased by the successful
counters offensive and air superiority, but these are not the focus of
High tech helped survivability in three ways. The first was
Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) equipment. Aircraft equipped
with SEAD systems were singularly effective in neutralizing Iraq's
integrated air defense network. The lack of an effective Iraqi air
defense network permitted our aircraft to operate at standoff
distances above intense Iraqi antiaircraft arll~ery and infrared
surface-to-air missiles. The medium altitude sanctuary also pertuitted
more accurate delivery of precision guided munitions.
The second way high tech increased survivability was stealth. The
performance of the F-l 17 attack fighter illustrated the great promise
of stealth systems for reducing aircraft vulnerability. The F-117 was
the only aircraft used against targets in Baghdad, the most heavily
defended portion of Iraq. Even though they flew over 1,200 sorties
against the toughest targets, the fleet finished the war with no
losses. A senior Air Force commander said' "I figured that just on
the first night we would lose a couple (of F-I 175) just from stray
hits. We didn't lose a single one that night, and it was not scratched
during the entire war."
The third high-tech contributor to greater aircraft survivability
was unmanned cruise missiles. Navy sea-launched Tomahawk cruise
missiles and B-52-launched cruise missiles employed against
high-value, high-risk targets provided
CENTCOM planners with an entirely new dimension in warfare capability.
The precision of the weapon and the freedom it afforded from pilot
safety concerns made cruise missiles extremely useful against heavily
defended targets during daylight hours. Over 80 percent of the
Tomahawks fired during Operation Desert Storm flew daylight missions.
Because Air Force planners were skeptical at first of the
Tomahawk's reliability and capability, they used several missiles
against each target as a safeguard. However, this practice disappeared
soon after the missiles' successful strikes. From that point on,
Tomahawks were used against an increasing range of targets.
Ultimately, about 288 Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired by surface
ships and submarines in the Persian Gulf, Red Sea and the eastern
Benefits of High Tech on the Ground
High tech also enhanced the effectiveness of several key
components of the ground campaign: mobility and maneuver, standoff
engagement, precise navigation, and night vision capability.
High mobility and maneuver warfare were central to the success of
the "Left Hook." The ability of U.S. ground forces to fight a
fast, fluid 100-hour ground campaign grew out of excellent training,
equipment and an evolution in doctrine.
Both the Army and Marine Corps have moved away from an
attrition-oriented, firepower-based doctrine towards the
technology-intensive doctrine dubbed "air-land battle." The
shift began in the late l970s to maximize NATO's technical edge as a
counter to the Warsaw Pact's numerical superiority. Operation Desert
Storm witnessed the transplant of the air-land base plan from the
plains of Europe to the desert of Kuwait and Iraq with stunning
With the start of the ground war, entire divisions sliced across
the Iraqi desert at sustained high rates of speed, some traveling 100
kilometers within the first 24 hours. Massive
columns of armor and mechanized infantry eventually sealed off escape
routes and pressed in on entrenched Iraqi units, systematically
defeating them. Operation Desert Storm will likely serve for
generations as the textbook example of what well-executed maneuver
tactics can accomplish.
High tech also enhanced ground forces' standoff capability.
Spotting, targeting and engaging the enemy from distances beyond the
range of his sensors allowed U.S. forces to operate safely with lethal
effectiveness. The thermal sensors on M 1 tanks and Bradley Fighting
Vehicles and the sensors on Army AH-64 and OH-58D helicopters targeted
the enemy day and night as well as through the thick smoke of the
battlefield and oil well fires. Army tank crews said Iraqi units
looked skyward and blindly fired their antiaircraft guns, thinking
they were under air attack. In another telling example, captured Iraqi
soldiers revealed that many Iraqi units had no idea they were under
attack from U.S. ground units until their tanks were hit by cannon
fire and missile
Another benefit of high tech for ground forces is precise
navigation. Knowing how to navigate in a featureless desert avoided
even by Iraqis provided U.S. forces with tactical advantage. A number
of systems contributed to this capability, but the Global Positioning
System (GPS) was the most important because it provided precise
navigational information down to the squad level in a highly portable
and low-cost package.
According to many ground commanders, the critical "Left
Hook" maneuver would have been impossible without GPS. As a result
of GPS, artillery placements, logistical resupply and battlefield
mapping were all accomplished with increased accuracy.
It is somewhat disconcerting to note that many of the GPS
receivers used in Operation Desert Storm were not obtained through the
normal military procurement process but rather bought off-the-shelf
from companies selling them for small boat navigation and other
A final benefit of high tech is night vision. Years of training
with specialized equipment gave the Army a night vision capability
that permitted relentless attack. Around-the-clock assaults
overwhelmed the Iraqis, denying them the opportunity to regroup or
resupply out of harm's way. Night vision proved equally useful in
fighting in the midday dusk caused by smoke from the massive oil well
frres in Kuwait.
U.S. Troops Most Qualified Ever
While equipment and hardware has garnered much of the post-war
praise and attention, in the final analysis it was U.S. military men
and women who made the real difference. Soldier for soldier, the U.S.
military is now comprised of better educated, more motivated and more
capable forces than at any other time in history. The outstanding
performance of the American soldier, sailor, airman and marine during
Operation Desert Storm proved the wisdom of recruiting a professional
military and maintaining exacting and highly realistic peacetime
This commitment to quality personnel rielded forces capable of
adapting and succeeding in a harsh, demanding, unfamiliar environment.
The ability to take forces "off-the-shelf" and ask them to
perform in a variety of settings with minimal preparation in theater
has important implications. The future military strategy may rely more
heavily on rapidly deployable, U.S.-based units ready to fight on a
Some initial assessments of the war have correctly pointed out
the uniqueness of having a five-month troop buildup, which provided
ample opportunity for U.S. forces to adapt to the Saudi desert's harsh
environment and to train in theater. Thousands of hours of intensive
training did take place during this period, both in the United States
before deployment for some units and in theater for others. All this
training undoubtedly saved lives as tactics were continually tested,
analyzed and adjusted.
However, most ground commanders credited realistic peacetime
training and exercises for having established the proficiency that led
to victory. Courses at speciallzed ranges, schools and training
facilities such the Army's National Tralning Center, the Marine Corps'
Twenty-Nine Palms combined arms range, the Air Force's "Flag"
exercises at Nellis AFB and the Navy's strike warfare university at
NAS Fallon made the difference. A decade of investment, particularly
for Army and Marine ground units, yielded a force able to successtully
execute complex, high-speed multi-corps operations with limited
The fact that many major ground units arrived in the theater much
later than units deployed from the United States but performed equally
well in combat supports this view. For' instance, the VII Army Corps,
a Europe-based unit, launched the main coalition ground attack only
two weeks after it completed deploying to the theater.
One senior officer from the VII Corps commented:
The corps was trained and ready [when it arrived]. The operation
was a matter
of adapting the corps and its people to conditions in Saudi
Arabia. The corps
had a large number of soldiers experienced in desert operations
as a result of
individual officers and soldiers who had gone through the
Center [at Ft. Irwin, California] and a division which had
rotated its brigades
through the Center.
Another Army general said, "We had a good, solid training base when
we began. The purpose of our training in Saudi Arabia was to get
Communications Hampered by Old, Incompatible Equipment
Operation Desert Storm demonstrated that tactical communications
are still plagued by incompatibilities and technical limitations. At
CENTCOM corps and wing levels, a significant portion of the war was
conducted over commercial telephone lines because of the volume and
limitations of the military communications system. Although the
araangement worked this time, it is risky to assume a strong
commercial communications system will be available in every
contingency. Moreover, relying on a commercial network made theater
communications vulnerable to jamming, saturation and sabotage.
Communications were worse in the field. For example,
compatibility problems among the services were a constant headache in
integrating the air campaign. Multiservice strike packages were
difficult or impossible to assemble because various aircraft
communicated in different ways over secure voice channels. Secure
voice channels do not allow the enemy to listen.
This caused not only planning problems, but also operational
problems. For example, when the Iraqi Air Force was fleeing to Iran,
an AWACS controller wanted to signal Navy F-14s and Air Force
F-l5stoturnofftheirradars to fool the Iraqis into ttting off so they
couldbe shot down. Because the AWACS is an Air Force aircraft, it was
able to communicate this information to the Air Force F-l5s over
secure voice but not to the Navy F-14s. The F-14s continued to operate
their radars, which kept the Iraqis on the ground.
The Air Tasking Order was hand delivered each day to Navy
carriers because communications links between Riyadh and ships
operating in the Gulf were too limited to handle the volume required.
Initially, some Air Force units also received a handcarried ATO, but
this was a redundancy measure that eventually was discontinued.
A Marine Corps general admitted that communications were a
significant problem, especially in artillery fire support, because the
equipment lacked sufficient range or frequencies. An Army battalion
commander said it was extremely difficult to keep the 1972 vintage
radios they had operating and within communications range. In some
cases, platoon leaders were unable to talk on the radio to squad
leaders who were a mere 75 feet away.
However, many communications problems should be corrected when
the newest tactical radio system, the Single Channel Ground and
Airborne Radio System (SINCGARS), is completely fielded. SINCGARS
performed well in units fortunate enough to have received it before
Tactical Missile Defenses Succeed Politically, Raise Technical
Long before the air campaign began on January 17, the United
States was concerned about the threat posed by Sadaam `s Scuds. By the
time the air campaign commenced, the United States already had
deployed several Patriot batteries to Saudi Arabia to defend various
high-value civilian and military targets.
In an effort to draw Israel into the war and destroy the
international coalition arrayed against him, Saddam launched nightly
Scud attacks against undefended Israeli population centers beginning
on January 18. While some Scuds missed their intended targets, others
landed in Tel Aviv and Haifa, causing substantial damage. Iraq's
capacity to use Scuds to deliver chemical warheads added to the
psychological impact of the Scud attacks.
On January 19, the Israeli Government accepted the U.S. offer to
deploy Patriots to various positions in Israel to defend against the
Scud attacks. The Frrst Patriot batteries, manned by U.S. troops
pending training of Israeli technicians, arrived from Europe and were
declared operational on January 20,1991.
Since the war ended, controversy has erupted surrounding the
question of Patriot's effectiveness intercepting and destroying Iraqi
Scuds aimed at military facilities in Saudi Arabia and civilian
targets in both Saudi Arabia and Israel. In fact, Patriot successfully
defended critical military facilities in Saudi Arabia such as ports
and airfields, and ensured that the Scuds had a minimal impact on
coalition military operations. In Israel, Patriot took on the more
demanding job of defending population centers a job for which it was
not designed. While its technical success in this role has been
questioned, its political impact was decisive in reassuring Israeli
leaders of the U.S. committnent to their security, which in turn
helped keep the coalition intact by keeping Israel out of the war.
Minehunting on Land and at Sea
Across the board, U.S. forces were generally unprepared for
offensive mineclearing and breaching operations. One of the most
serious challenges facing coalition ground forces preparing to enter
Kuwait were the layered static defenses along the entire Kuwait-Saudi
border. These barriers included extensive minefields, obstacle belts,
oil-filled trenches and other man-made barricades designed to stall
the expected assault into Kuwait and expose coalition forces to Iraqi
heavy artillery fire.
However, as preparations for offensive operations began, U.S.
forces found themselves woefully unprepared to carry out the
specialized breaching and clearing operations required to defeat this
defensive tactic. Both the Army and Marines lacked the experience,
training and the equipment required for the mission.
As a result, both services were forced to compress into a few
months the training, design and fielding of specialized equipment
necessary to defeat the Iraqi fortifications. In theater, Marine and
Army units began intensive training against dummy fortifications. In
the United States, both Army and Marine acquisition systems quickly
started designing, fabricating and deploying new mine plows, mine
rollers, mine rakes and other equipment. The Armored Combat Engineer
(ACE) vehicle was used in combat for the first time, as well as the
rocket-propelled line charge (MICLIC) used to detonate mines
explosively. Mine plows and rollers were also developed in the field
and purchased from U.S. allies such as Israel.
One Marine officer said, "We trained seven days a week. We
built a sophisticated system of barriers and simulated mine fields.
But, we did not have sufficient breaching equipment until our
equipment was supplemented by the Israelis, who gave us pretty good
stuff." Another Marine officer added, "Our engineers did not
receive most of the newer equipment until the middle of January and
had to make do with the older D-7 dozers and locally fabricated
equipment. Most of the newer equipment like the ACE and mine rake
arrived too late for proper training. Some companies did not receive
mineclearing equipment until the night of the attack."
Nonetheless, 1st and 2nd Marine Division breaching operations led
the ground attack, blasting open holes in the Iraqi defensive barriers
for coalition forces to pour into Kuwait. The success of these
difficult operations can be attributed to the excellent training
regimen developed in theater, the accelerated fielding of specialized
equipment, the massive preparatory fire used to saturate the defensive
barriers, the tepid resistance by Iraqi units manning defensive
emplacements, and frnally, by the use of intelligence to find and
exploit gaps in and between Iraqi minefields.
At sea, through the fall of 1990, the United States deployed six
MH-53 air mine countermeasures helicopters, three 1950's vintage ocean
minesweeping ships (MSO), one modern mine countermeasure ship (MCM),
and explosive ordnance detachinents (EOD) to the region in
anticipation of the need for
minesweeping, particularly in the waters of the Persian Gulf itself.
In mid-January 1991, before the commencement of hostilities, the 055
Tripoli, a marine amphibious ship, was designated to support airborne
mine countermeasure operations. Although ten allied countries
ultimately provided 32 mine countermeasure vessels, except for the
British units, these allied vessels did not arrive in theater or did
not participate in mine clearance work until after the war had ended.
The Navy and Marine minesweeping mine countermeasure efforts also
ran into difficulties, largely attributable to inadequate training
prior to the deployment. For instance, although doctrine calls for the
coordinated operation of all mine sweepin~ountermeasure forces (i.e.,
ship and airborne minesweepers and explosive ordinance disposal),
pre-war training was generally conducted only by the individual
forces. Fortunately, the three month period between the time U.S.
minesweeping forces arrived in the Gulf and the beginning of the war
allowed for the conduct of critical training and repair work.
The intelligence about the Iraqi mine threat was incorrect.
Although there were indications of Iraqi minelaying activities as
early as October 1990, CENTCOM decided to avoid any actions, including
collecting intelligence, that could provoke hostilities before
coalition forces were fully prepared. As a result, there was little
hard intelligence on the details of the Iraqi mine threat by the time
the war started.
Nonetheless, estimates of Iraqi minelaying activities were made
and often were wrong.
Documents obtained after the war indicated that the Iraqis had
laid 1,157 mines in a crescent across the northwest Gulf. However,
U.S. intelligence estimates failed to indicate that the waters in the
center of this crescent had been heavily mined. U.S. data predicted
mineflelds only in the waters off Kuwait and in the deep water
approaches to Iraq. The 055 Princeton and the 055 Tripoli were both
damaged by Iraqi mines in February 1991 while operating in areas not
estimated to be mined.
Of great concern to those planning possible amphibious operations
off the eastern coast of occupied Kuwait was the threat of heavily
mined shallow waters -- waters less than 30 feet deep that do not
lend themselves to ship or airborne minesweeping countermeasures. If
an amphibious operation had ultimately been conducted, shallow water
mines would had to have been identiiled and disabled by explosive
ordnance disposal and Navy special forces. Such an undertaking would
have been time-consumrng and extremely risky to the individuals
Assessments of the capability and reliability of U.S.
minesweeping countermeasure equipment are mixed. The six MH-53
helicopters were new when deployed and by all accounts were effective
and reliable. Likewise, the reliability of thc minesweeping and mine
countermeasure ships was also satisfactory. Nonetheless, the Navy
believes that the acoustic and magnetic signatures of the ocean
minesweeping ships are inferior to those of our allies. Moreover,
there were reliability problems with the ocean minesweeping ship's
SQQ- 14A minehunting sonar and the remotely operated minehunting
vehicle when deployed in strong currents. Finally, there was only one
secure voice circuit available for numerous vessels, including the
ocean minesweeping ships and the mine countermeasure ship, that too
often resulted in messages being passed between ships on unsecured VHF
The significant Iraqi mine threat contributed to CENTCOM's
decision not to conduct an amphibious landing on the beaches of
Kuwait. CENTCOM planners estimated that it would take 10-14 days to
clear the necessary Iraqi mines and to prepare the Kuwaiti beaches for
such a landing, which decisionmakers judged to be too long. Of perhaps
even greater concern was the potential for high casualties if such an
amphibious landing were undertaken under the conditions existing at
sea and on the beach at the time.
Counting the Iraqi Army
After the war ended, a controversy ervpted over the numbers of
Iraqi military personnel in the Kuwaiti Theater of Operations (KTO)
and the numbers of Iraqis killed in the war. Dependable counts did not
exist, which caused unease among the American public. How could we
determine how many of our own troops to send without knowing how many
Iraqi soldiers there were?
There were two reasons people were not counted. First, CENTCOM
did not believe soldiers were the most important measure of Iraqi
military strength. The coalition command felt the numbers of tanks,
armored personnel carriers and artillery pieces provided the best
measure of Iraqi power. A tank unit with no tanks ceased to pose a
threat regardless of how many men were on the rolls. The command's
goal was to destroy equipment, so it was equipment numbers the command
U.S. intelligence had the responsibility of determining the Iraqi
military order of battle the numbers and types of units, their
equipment and location. Substantial resources had been devoted to that
effort all through the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. There was less focus on
the order of battle after the 1988 ceasefr:e, but the assignment never
When the Iraqi Army began mobilizing against Kuwait in mid-July
of 1990, interest in the Iraqi order of baffle soared. This produced
an accurate day-to-day reading of the numbers of units in what was to
become the KTO despite severe limitations on the conventional means of
gathering data listening in on enemy communications and taking photos
from reconnaissance planes overhead. It was difficult to listen in
because the Iraqi Army was extremely disciplined about communications,
punishing communicators who used the radio waves for classified
information. In addition, the Iraqis made heavy use of buried
telephone lines and motorcycle couriers.
It was also difficult because Washington, concerned with avoiding
any situation that could lead prematurely to war, decided not to fly
any reconnaissance aircraft over Iraq or occupied Kuwait during
Operation Desert Shield.
CENTCOM' s second reason for keeping the focus away from people
counts was a fear of reliving the preoccupation with statistics on
enemy strengths and casualties that developed durmg the Vietnam War.
The commander of Operation Desert Storm had no intention of beginning
another war defrned by body counts. Still, there was a public demand
for this kind of information in Operations Desert Shiel~esert Storm.
To arrive atafigure for the number of Iraqi troops in the KTO, the
Pentagon public affairs office did some simple arithmetic. The number
of divisions in the theater -- 42 -- was known with some
certainty. This number was multiplied by the number of men thought by
intelligence analysts to comprise a division.
The estimated personnel complement of an Iraqi division had been
revised downward shortly before the estimate was made public. The
revision had reduced the number of support troops thought to be
associated with a division. When the multiplication was done, it
produced an estimate of approximately 547,000 Iraqi troops in the KTO.
This prompted some confusion because the earlier, higher estimate of
men per division had leaked unofficially. The best estimate, however,
was the figure of 547,000, which was not very good in any case. In
fact, the one certainty is that there never really were 547,000 Iraqi
troops in theater because -- and this was not known until after the
war -- many units were sent to the theater substantially
While CENTCOM rightly felt troop counts were not necessary, solid
post-war information is very useful. Knowing how many of the enemy
were killed is politically important; knowing how many Iraqi troops
were in theater when the ground attack began is militarily important
for future contingencies. A credible figure would help answer more
about the role of air power in the war. We would know how air power
devastated the ground forces, either by killing them or by so
affecting their morale that they deserted their posts and abandoned
their equipment. We would know how strong an army the coalition ground
forces swept aside.
At this point, no one knows -- not even Saddam. Interviews with
captured Iraqi officers revealed that many of them lied about their
daily strength so their superiors would not know how miserably they
had failed in keeping their units intact. Captured documents offer
another source of information, but little analysis had been done at
the time research for this analysis was conducted. Eventually, there
may be a reasonably hard figure on the number of Iraqis killed and the
number of soldiers in theater when the ground campaign started. In the
meantime, an attempt can be made to make a closer estimate of opposing
troop strengths and casualties.
The table below lists seven relevant categories for assessing
Iraqi strength. Some of the estimates emerge from hard data, others
are mere guesses. But the key point is that all seven categories must
be considered together. Estimates of Iraqi dead cannot be
intelligently dealt with in isolation from the estimates for deserters
or escapees. Because we are starting with the figure of 547,000 as the
notional number of Iraqi troops assigned to the KTO, the categories
must account for that figure; that is, they must add up to 547,000.
Table I: ACCOUNTING FOR THE IRAQI ARMY
Assigned strength: 547,000 Table of Organization figure for 42
Understrength: 186,000 An average of 34 percent based
on interviews with captured officers
who reported their own units
understrength all the way from
zero to two-thirds.
Captured: 63,000 The only accurate hard number.
Deserted: 153,000 An average derived from interviews
with senior POWs, who reported
20 percent to 50 percent of their
deployed strength deserting an
average of 42 percent for the units
Injured: 17,000 Based on POW interviews but
the range among units went from
2 percent to 16 percent. These
are air war injuries only.
Killed: 9,000 Based on the interviews with senior
officer POWs. The range among urits
was 1 percent to 6 percent of the troops
deployed, with an average of 2-1/2
percent. These numbers do not include
deaths in the ground war.
On leave: few A reasonable assumption.
Escaped at the: 120,000 The number that falls out if all
End of the War the other numbersinthis list are
accurate. At the end of the fighting,
one intelligence estimate based on
aerial reconnaissance of the fleeing
troops placed the number of escapees
at 100,000. But because people cannot
be accurately counted from the air,
that number was more guessed at
than scientffically derived.
Table II: ACCOUNTING FOR IRAQI TROOPS: A ROUGH ESTIMATE OF ENEMY
Assigned Strength* 547,000
Amount by which units were understrength -185,000 Deserted -153,000
Injured in air war - 17,000 Killed in air war -9,000
Estimated remainder present at start of ground war 183,000
Captured in ground war (63,000)
ground war (120,000)
*Number of units known to be in the Kuwaiti Theater of Operations
multiplied by the number of troops thought by intelligence analysts to
be assigned to those units.
A change in any one number above must by definition change at
least one other number because the total must come to 547,000.
It is possible, however, that when 700,000 allied troops attacked
on the ground February 23, they faced only 183,000 Iraqis -- thus
outnumbering the enemy 5 - 1. That 183,000 is the sum of the 63,000
soldiers the coalition captured plus the 120,000 Iraqi troops
extrapolated to have escaped from the KTO after the war.
The number of Iraqis deployed at the start of the ground war
could be higher than 183,000 if Iraqi divisions were closer to full
strength than this calculation gives them credit for, or il desertions
were fewer. The number could easily be lower, however, for example,
desertions were greater than the surprisingly low figure shown above
as having perished in the air war.
At this juncture, substantially more factual data are needed --
factual data that may lie in the captured documents. But for the
present, the above represent the best figures; although the range in
each category is substantial, the senior officers who provided them
represent one-eighth of all the Iraqi forces in the KTO a good sample.
Most important, however, whatever estimates are made in the future
should take into account all seven categories listed above and not
treat any one in isolation.
THE NEW BATTLEFIELD BALANCE New thinking About Tooth to Tail
High technology has not only irrevocably changed the results of
warfare, it has changed the process. Night vision makes
around-the-clock warfare possible. In Operation Desert Storm, there
was virtually no let-up after the first shot was fired.
As such, these changes in warmaking placed enormous pressure on
the logistics system. What might have been a sufficient support system
for a slower-paced, shorter war was strained in many places during the
furiously-paced Gulf war. It is clear that the old
"tooth-to-tail" relationship between support
systems and combat systems needs careful review.
One strain on the logistics system was caused by a simple lack of
certain resources. For example, insufficient numbers of trucks and
transports often became an operational bottleneck -- not the combat
equipment they supported. There was a dire shortage of Heavy Equipment
Transport trucks (HETÕs) used for moving tracked vehicles over long
distances, a problem solved only after a woridwide borrowing and
leasing effort was undertaken. The number of all-terrain trucks like
the Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck HEMTT) was also inadequate.
In the air, the number of aerial tankers, not bombers or
fighters, constrained the number of daily strike sorties. Successful
strike operations also depended on aerial tankers. Tankers were
crucial to all facets of air operations, and they extended the reach
of practically every tactical aircraft employed.
Another strain on the logistics system was equally basic: certain
key support systems lacked the capability required for their missions.
Engineering equipment for mineclearing and breaching, armored vehicle
recovery, command and control vehicles, and medical evacuation assets
were unable to perform as expected. In particular, the M-548
ammunition carrier vehicle was severely criticized by a number of Army
units as a "turtle that weighed too much, traveled about 5 miles
per hour, could not maneuver in the sand, broke down all the time and
held up troop movement." One artillery officer said, "We need to
get rid of it. Drive a stake through its heart. It can only carry half
the required ammunition load and cannot keep up. During the war it was
a pacing factor in our movements and other times we just left it
Former Joint Staff Director of Operations Lieutenant General
Thomas Kelly succinctly illustrated the importance of competent
support during testimony before the House Armed Services Committee in
April 1991. He said, "I used to work in priorities. At some point,
a fuel truck became more important than the tank it supported because
it is no good to have the tank if you did not have the tuel for
Complexiry of Warfare Requires Sophisticated Support
Another change in warmaking brought about by high tech is the
increasingly sophisticated nature of weapons and tactics. Adequate
support for complex warfare starts with enough trucks, transporters
and tankers, but requires more than that. The character of a high-tech
military campaign requires reliable intelligence systems, direct
combat support and intelligence feedback.
Operation Desert Storm revealed significant problems in
intelligence support. Tactical intelligence, in particular, quickly
proved to be a serious flaw in the support chain. The first three days
of air operations, having benefitted from months of careful planning
and preparation, included full sets of target intelligence. After
that, however, target imagery and current intelligence on mission
performance decreased dramatically. What arrived was often late,
unsatisfactory or unusable. One wing intelligence officer said,
"There were actual times when we sent guys out with no imagery at
all. They only got a map and coordinates to find a target at night. We
did continue to get targeting materials, but the coverage was spotty
and almost always dated. We put in our requests, but they got
swallowed by a black hole. Of the over 1,000 missions flown by (one of
the squadrons), we only got back four imagery responses, and all four
were of such poor quality that we couldn't even read the date to check
The failure of the intelligence system to keep warfighters
properiy supplied with information underscores the vast increase in
tailored, current intelligence required by weapons with one- target,
one-bomb accuracy. By comparison, hitting single targets since
WorldWar II through Vietnam required at least hundreds of bombs and
The need for intelligence will continue to grow as next
generation weapons enter the inventory. And as the sophistication of
weapons increases, deficiencies in intelligence support will
proportionally constrain their effectiveness.
The capabilities of direct combat support systems were also
inconsistent with the complex nature of modern warfare. Jammers, for
example, have consistentiy lost in the scramble for dollars and, as a
result, are aging and in short supply. These limitations constrain the
ability of U.S. forces to put ordnance on target.
For instance, most of the dedicated Suppression of Enemy Air
Defenses (SEAD) platforms used in the war -- such as the EF-lll,
F-4G,and EA-6B--are old. Some were in the process of being phased
out of service when Iraq invaded Kuwait. It required virtually all of
these aircraft to support just 25 percent of the combat inventory.
The success of the F-1 17 stealth fighter does not negate the
need for maintaining a healthy electronic jamming and SEAD support
capability in current and future inventories. F-l l7s did operate
infrequently with dedicated electronic jammers, completely confusing
and overwhelming Baghdad's dense air defense system. Furthermore,
because the United States will not have an exclusively stealthy attack
aircraft fleet at any point in the foreseeable tuture, the need for a
strong jamming and defense suppression capability remains.
The provision of intelligence feedback or "bomb damage
assessment" (BDA) also proved deficient during the war. One reason
was the shortage of tactical reconnaissance capabilities. For example,
the Air Force RF-4C reconnaissance aircraft were being eliminated from
the force structure when Operation Desert Storm began, and Marine
RF-4C units had already been completely disbanded.
An officer attached to an F- 1 5E Strike Eagle wing described the
result of inadequate BDA:
We deployed a system that was still very immature. Good BDA
was needed to let us know if the airplane was performing or not.
had never dropped many of the munitions that we used in the
initial few days,
so we had no real idea what we were doing. Our guys were eager to
the necessary adjustments in tactics, but they needed some
indication of what
results we were getting. But no one seemed to listen, and it took
us a long time
before we figured out how to best employ the system. I ended up
more rnformation and more specific mission results from listening
broadcasts from the BBC than what I got through CENTAF channels.
The greater degree of interdependence between combat and support
suggests the need for a revised method of evaluating service
priorities. What has emerged as an important lesson from Operation
Desert Storm is that acquiring support systems consistent with
high-tech weapons may be more important than buying the next
generation plane or tank.
Striving for a Balanced Military
Another way of considering the relationship between weapon
systems and support systems is balance. An examination of combat
support revealed an imbalance between it and our combat capabilities.
It was not uncommon for weapon systems to race far ahead of their
In this new era of high tech, the mosaic of systems and
capabilities that form military power requires a new degree of
calibration and balance to consistently deliver maximum results. There
must be a balance between weapons and support systems. There must also
be balance among the capabilities of similar weapon systems. If there
is not, the result will be an imbalance between the demands of modern
warfare and the ability of our sophisticated weapon systems to satisfy
For instance, under the established rules of engagement, the
F-14, the F/A-18, and the F-16 could not positively identify enemy
targets beyond visual range, hampering their usefulness. Only the Air
Force F- 15 had the capabilities required under the rules of
engagement to use air-to-air missiles beyond visual range.
A Marine pilot said, "We need to start buying airplanes more
like the Air Force, with the full set of gear. Instead, we buy
Cadillacs with roll-up windows, like the F/A- 18 with unsatisfactory
radar warning receivers, expendables [eg., chaff and flares] and
[missile and bomb] racks. I would give up I of the 12 aircraft in my
squadron in order to fully equip the other 11."
Unlike the Army and Air Force, Marine ground and aviation units
had littie or no night fighting capability, which forced them to
virtually cease offensive action with the onset of dusk every day.
One of the most urgent imbalances between weapon system
capabilities and the requirements of high-tech warfare is inadequate
means of distinguishing enemy from friendly forces. The identification
measures used during ground operations such as the inverted "V"
markings, reflective tape and other indIcators combined with
permissive fire arrangements failed to provide an adequate level of
protection against friendly fire. This problem directly contributed to
the coalition casualties caused by friendly fire.
The lethality and range of air-to-ground attack aircraft and
antiarmor weapons has dramatically increased over time, but the
ability to discriminate among targets in a crowded battlefield has not
kept pace. Unless more reliable positive identification measures are
developed and fielded, the friendly fire problem will grow to the
point where it will seriously constrain the abiliry to employ the full
range of capabilities found in current and future weapon systems.
With the notable exception of the friendly fire problem, most
imbalances in Operation Desert Storm were addressed by applying brute
force. The vast quantities of equIpment, personnel and other resources
available in Operation Desert Storm made this method of problem
However, the option will not be available much longer. Declining
defense budgets and a shrinking force structure will limit our ability
to buy our way out of problems. What is now required is more balance
in our forces and systems to prevent the problems identified here from
constraining us on future battlefields.
GOLDWATER-NICHOLS PLAYED A CRUCIAL ROLE
Operation Desert Storm was the first major test of the
Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986. By
most accounts, it passed with flying colors.
Reflecting on the importance of this legislation for the conduct
of the Persian Gulf war, Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney said:
I am personally persuaded that [Goldwater-Nichols] was the most
far-reaching piece of legislation affecting the Department since the
original National Security Act of 1947.... Clearly, it made a major
contribution to our recent military successes.
Goldwater Nichols-Fosters Jointness
In past conflicts, each military service ran its own operation,
sometimes without the benefit of much centralized control. The
Goldwater-Nichols Act sought to foster joint military approaches to
warfare by increasing the power of the Joint Combatant
Commanders-in-Chief (CINCs), streamlining their chain of command to
the President and strengthening the role of the Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff.
Goldwater-Nichols gave the ClNCs authorities commensurate with
the long held responsibility for the conduct of a war. Most of the
added authorities, such as command, employment of forces, and hiring
and firing of subordinates were exercised by General Schwarzkopf in
the Persian Gulf war. It also gave the CINC significant authority over
logistics and support.
Unity of Command Was Key
The most identifiable feature was the streamlined chain of
command from Washington to the field commander. General Schwarzkopf,
not the Joint Chiefs of Staff, controlled operations in the theater.
The theater commander also was in complete control over combat forces.
Because of the single chain of command, there was little
opportunity to revisit decisions endlessly, as is the usual Pentagon
practice. Goldwater-Nichols did not terminate interservice
disagreements -- it made their resolution possible. For example, the
CINC made the decision not to conduct an amphibious landing contrary
to the strongly held views of some subordinate Marine commanders. This
would have been a difficult decision to make stick prior to
In a marked departure from the past, the CINC also exercised
overall control of logistics support in his theater of operations and
of deployment priorities for bringing troops and equipment into the
theater. General H. T. Johnson, commander of the Transportation
Command, said that his command had many requests to ship weapons and
equipment throughout the buildup and during the conflict. He told his
staff, "Go to the unified command. If it is a requirement, and if
it is a priority, we will move it. And that's the only way we get this
Goldwater-Nichols laid the foundation for holding field
commanders accountable for accomplishing their missions. CINCs run
wars and should be held accountable for the results.
Jointness Problems Still Remain
This overall success cannot obscure the fact that much remains to
be done to continue fosteringjointness. The services' attitude about
combined operations have improved. But, Operation Desert Storm
revealed a reluctance by some to fuRy integrate their forces and
equipment. For example, as discussed above, the Marines were unwilling
to leave all their fixed-wing aircraft at the disposal of the JFACC
staff for use in the Air Tasking Order.
Providing the Forces: U.S.Personnel in the Persian Gulf Crisis
THE ALL VOLUNTEER FORCE (AVE)
The Gulf war tested for the first time whether the All Volunteer
Force would be effective in war. By all accounts, the AVF passed with
In his testimony on June 12,1991, General H. Norman Schwarzkopf,
Commander in Chief of U.S. forces in the war, testified:
This magnificent fighting force, both active and reserve, is an
all volunteer force. A true cross section of Americans who volunteered
to go in harm's way in order to serve their nation and the interests
of the international community. Of special inspiration to me were our
NCOs and young officers who led by their example throughout the
grueling days and nights of Operation Desert Shield and by their
courage throughout Operation Desert Storm. The All Volunteer Force has
faced its trial by fire, Iraqi fire, and has emerged a resounding
The performance of the AVF in the Gulf war may have surprised
those who remembered the problems of the 1970s. In 1973 the United
States had established an all volunteer force based on marketplace
incentives -- good pay and benefits for all who volunteered. By the
late 1970Õs, the effect of lower eulistment standards for recruits
and higher discipline problems raised serious concerns about force
quality and effectiveness.
In response to these concerns, the services made a series of
major changes. Under congressional prodding, the military raised the
education and testing standards for new recruits. Congress made the
military more attractive by providing better pay and new educational
By 1990, this new approach proved to be an effective way to field
a force of educated, experienced and disciplined people.
--The new approach provided 100 percent of service enlistment
needs with educated enlistees. About 91 percent of all new enlistees
were high school graduates, and 95 percent scored in the top three of
the five mental categories in the DOD's qualification test.
Active-duty noncommissioned officers (NCOs) with college credits and
college students in the ranks of reserve component units were common.
--The experience level and maturity of the active-duty enlisted
force rose significantly over the last decade. As a higher percentage
of enlistees re-enlisted, average service experience lengthened from
67 months to 78 months, average age increased from 25 years to 26.5
years, and the percent married went from about 40 percent to about 50
--The people in the AVF were remarkably self-disciplined.
Indications of a lack of discipline such as absences without leave,
desertions, court martials and sick rates were at their historic lows
-- an extraordinary turn around from the terrible problems in the
How Would the AVF Fight?
One question that Operations Desert ShieldlDesert Storm asked and
answered was, "How well can this force fight a war?"
The force proved to be highly motivated. The morale indicators for the
force in Southwest Asia were better than in the United States. Sick
call and hospitalization rates were less than half of peacetime
levels; accident rates were less than half those in a comparable U.S.
experience, namely at the National Training Center. A House Armed
Service Committee delegation in November 1990 reported that the
farther forward it moved and "the harsher the conditions, the
The force proved to be adaptive. The harsh environment of
Southwest Asia challenged the AVF. In testimony before the House Armed
Services Committee in late January 1991, service representatives cited
the operational innovations by resourceful people in the field as a
major reason for achieving equipment readiness rates above peacetime
Support units modified organizations and procedures to meet the
challenges posed by the vast distances and rapid buildup and got the
job done. The 101st Division, which deployed under- strength and
received some fill-in, credited the quality of the individual soldier
and his educational level for their quick infusion into the air
But is it Fair?
The war also raised anew the questions of representation of
minorities and the poor in the AVF whether, in fact, it was fair.
Black Americans of recruitment age comprise about 14 percent of
the population as a whole, but 26 percent of new Army recruits and
about 18 percent of new Marine Corps recruits. Overall, blacks
comprise 31 percent of enlisted Army soldiers and 21 percent of
enlisted Marines, compared to 12 percent of the general population
aged 18 to 24. It is this disproportionate representation which gave
rise to concerns of disproportionate risk for blacks.
This question was treated in a report issued separately on April
26,1991. The report examined three scenarios for armed conflict, and
estimated the proportion of black service members at risk. In
conflicts involving chiefly air power, or air power and Navy ships,
blacks were underrepresented compared to their proportion of the
population as a whole. In a ground war, blacks were somewhat
Aspin, Les. All Volunteer: A Fair System. A Ouallty Force. House Armed
Services Committee. 1991. Washington, D.C.
In a war of the type fought against Iraq for the liberation of
Kuwait, the report found that blacks would comprise 18 to 19 percent
of the combat force. These figures are lower than the figures for
black representation among enlisted service members for two reasons.
First, blacks are undertepresented among Air Force and Navy pilots
compared to their proportion of the total population. Second, blacks
are not so disproportionately represented in the combat arms of the
Army and Marine Corps as they are in the services as a whole.
Black combat deaths in the Iraq war were about 15 percent of the
The study also found that Hispanics and Asian Americans were
underrepresented in the AVF compared to their proportion of the
Where many commentators said the All Volunteer Force was chiefly
dependent on the lower economic classes, an examination by the
Congressional Budget Office cited in the report found the
socio-economic characteristics of the AVF to be generally reflective
of the larger society.
Women in the Services
Women served in greater numbers and performed a wider variety of
military occupations in Operation Desert Storm than in any other
conflict. More than 35,000 servicewomen were deployed to Southwest
Asia as logisticians, air traffic controllers, engineer equipment
mechanics, drivers, reconnaissance aircraft pilots and in scores of
other positions. Two women were taken as prisoners of war. Fifteen
were killed in the conflict, five by enemy fire.
As they have in other conflicts, American women showed themselves
enormously capable and professional. Although they
were deployed to a country which severely restricts women's role in
society, American servicewomen performed their missions with
During Operation Desert Storm, American society continued to
display its willingness to accept the enhanced role for military women
that had first revealed itself in Operation Just Cause. While there
were some undercurrents of disapproval, discussions more often focused
on women's competence and willingness to serve. As a result of the
Operation Desert Storm experience, Congress last year repealed the law
prohibiting women aviators fiom flying combat missions.
THE GUARD & RESERVE
The U.S. response to the crisis in the Gulf involved the largest
mobilization of reserve components since the Korean War of 1950, and
the first major mobilization since the Berlin Crisis of 1961-62.
The U.S. response also provided the first test of the Total Force
Policy. In 1973, following the end of the Vietnam War, the Department
of Defense implemented the Total Force Policy, integrating the active
and the reserve components info a combined fighting force.
How this mobilization was carried out, how the reserve components
performed and what lessons might be learned for the future are the
subjects of this portion of the inquiry.
Planning for Word War III
Prewar planning for reserve component mobilization --
particularly in the Army -- focused on a general war with the Soviet
Union, triggered by a Warsaw Pact attack on NATO. The military
planning envisioned a quick political decision to transition to full
Mobilization planning did not envision the way in which guard and
reserve personnel were to be mobilized following the Iraqi invasion of
Kuwait on August 2,1990.
Mobilization -- In Pieces By Improvisation
Following the invasion of Kuwait, the services began preparing
for action in Southwest Asia without knowing when -- or whether --
they would be able to call up the guard and reserve. As a result, they
relied on active-duty forces and volunteers from the reserve
components in developing their early responses, while laying plans to
use the reserve components whenever they became available.
On August 22,1990, the President invoked section 673b of Title 10
of the United States Code, stating that "it is necessary to augment
the active armed forces of the United States for an effective conduct
of operational missions in and around the Arabian Peninsula." This
permitted calling to active duty as many as 200,000 selected
However, the authority that Secretary Cheney gave to the services
on August 23,1990 was for 48,800 -- not 200,000 -- and it had a
number of restrictions.
-- It allocated:
--14,500 for the Air Force
--3,000 for the Marine Corps
--6,300 for the Navy
-- 25,000 for the Army, specifically excluding combat troops
--Active-duty service was limited to a total of 180 days.
-- Access to individual replacements-- vital to filling critical
skills in mobilizing units -- was limited to volunteers because
section 673b permits no access to the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR).
The IRR remained unavallable until January 17, 1991, when Operation
Desert Storm began.
These initial call-up limits reflected the caution of the
President and his advisers about tapping the reserve components,
particularly combat units.
The specific units called up id deployed reflected General
Schwarzkopf's priorities for Southwest Asia. Those priorities were:
More airlift and sealift to move the people and the equipment to
Southwest Asia (available from Air Force guard and reserve units
supporting MAC and SAC, and from Army and Navy port support units).
More support for the combat forces; for example, truck
transportation, water purification, postal, military police and
medical services (available from the Army guard and reserve units
providing combat service support, and from Navy medical services
The Shift to an Offensive Option
In September 1990, members of Congress urged a call-up of reserve
component combat units to fully test the Total Force policy. To remove
an impediment to the call-up of these combat units, Congress extended
the duration of their call-up to a total of 360 days. This extension
became law on November 5,1990.
On November 8,1990, the President announced a force buildup in
Southwest Asia to provide an offensive option to force Iraq out of
Kuwait. The buildup would have two main elements -- more reserve
component forces and more heavy forces drawn from active-duty units in
Secretary Cheney expanded his earlier reserve component call-up
authority on November 14, and again on December 1, 1990, to a total of
-- 20,000 for the Air Force
-- 23,000 for the Marine Corps
--30,000 for the Navy
--115,000 for the Army, without a prohibition on combat forces
Thus, the stage was finally set for the test of the Total Force
Total Force policy finds its largest expression in the Army,
whose 750,000 guard and reserve members provide about 50 percent of
its total combat power, about 60 percent of its combat support and
about 70 percent of its combat service support.
In response to the invasion of Kuwait, the Army ultimately
activated over 145,000 guard and reserve personnel, or about 20
percent of the available force.
These personnel performed with distinction and proved critical to
Army success in the war with Iraq. The mobilization was not without
its difficulties, however.
These difficulties had their origins in a number of factors,
including the piecemeal call-up authorization, the special demands of
Southwest Asia, the need to improvise in the absence of appropriate
planning, the pervasive prewar focus on a European scenario, and
readiness problems with the units themselves.
The mobilization eventually comprised 145,000 persons: The majority
provided combat service support functions including transportation,
medical, postal, water purification, civil affairs, finance and
-- Some provided combat support functions including engineers,
aviation, chemical defense and decontamination and artillery
(designated as support because they were intended for division- and
-- 16,000 provided combat capabilities, specifically the National
Guard roundout brigades and battalions.
-- About 75,000 guard and reserve people were in Southwest Asia at
the peak of the war, about 25 percent of the Army in-theater strength.
About 75 percent of those deployed provided combat service support and
25 percent provided combat support.
--Less than 10 percent of the guard and reserve people were deployed
to Europe to provide support functions.
-- Most of the remaining guard and reservists were deployed at
locations in the United States, either to provide support functions or
to train for deployment to Southwest Asia.
In addition to these totals, there were about 14,000 Individual
Ready Reservists that the Army was able to activate after January
17,1991 to fill critical slots. The totals include a few thousand
early volunteers that the Army had put on active duty in combat
service support roles.
Evolution of the Call-Up
The Army tailored its use of reserve components to meet the
military requirements in Southwest Asia. The Army view of the role of
the guard and reserves changed over time. These changes reflected both
the constraints on the Army's call-up authority and the changing
situation in the theater and in Washington:
-- In the first weeks of August, the Army began planning an
88,000-person call-up of combat and support units tailored to the
crisis. To meet the immediate needs of the theater for support for the
early arriving Army combat units, the Army committed a large part of
its available active-duty combat service support units.
On August 23,1990 the Army only received authorization for 25,000
personnel in support units, rather than 88,000 personnel including
combat units. The Army responded by mobilizing only those units needed
quickly by General. The differences between the host nation support
and infrastructure available in Southwest Asia, and what was assumed
avallable in pre-war planning for a European crisis, led to unexpected
differences in the types of units deploys Thus:
--Support units that would have been late deploying in a European
war (e.g., water purification, postal) were forced to be early
deploying to Southwest Asia, regardless of their readiness.
--Units that expected to be early mobilizing, such as the guard
roundout combat brigades that were part of early deploying active
divisions, could not be used because of the Administration's
interpretation of its limited mobilization authority and higher
priority in theater.
This chain of events had two results:
--It ruptured Capstone and Roundout, two long-standing programs that
were the Army's principal mechanIsm for integrating the active-duty
personnel and reserves into cohesive wartime commands.
--It negated reserve component expectations -- particularly, but not
exclusively, in the combat units that the Army's active and reserve
forces would go to war together.
Capstone identifies the active-duty units with which reserve units
will be associated in wartime, and establishes a formal peacetime
relationship between them that includes joint planning and exercises.
Roundout does essentially the same thing, but National Guard
Roundout brigades and battalions are not merely associated with their
active units. They are intended to make whole or roundout those active
units to their full strength.
It is against the backdrop of expectations and relationships
created by these two programs and their associated planning that the
mobilization of Army reserve components took place.
Some reserve component units that anticipated early call-up were
not called at all. One such unit was the Army National Guard artillery
brigade lrom South Carolina that is operationally aligned with the
early deploying XVIII Airborne Corps. This unit was told by its active
force counterpart to expect to be in Southwest Asia by September.
Preparations were begun at cost to the personal and civilian
professional lives of brigade members, yet the final call never came.
The commander of the Second Army, an Army element that mobilized
nearly 50,000 reservists and guardsmen, called the inability to
capitalize on programs such as Capstone one of the bad news stories of
the war. As reported to the committee by both active and reserve
commanders, the Army paid a price for discarding Roundout and
-- Increased the effort required to determine the post-mobilization
readiness of reserve units and increased the inefficiency of the
process. For example, reserve units frequently had to repeat training
or administrative measures already accomplished at home station in
order to prove their readiness to people unfamiliar with their unit.
-- Created numerous instances where reserve component units
perceived themselves to be second-class citizens in the view of active
units that had never trained or worked with the reserve unit.
-- Extended by 30 to 60 days the time required for reserve units
thrust into new organizations in Southwest Asia to become fully
integrated with the operational and tactical procedures of the new
In November 1990, the Army view of the guard and reserve role
evolved again with the extension of active-duty service to a total of
360 days and the President's decision to prepare for an offensive.
With the increase in call-up authority to 80,000 on November 14,1990
and then to 115,000 on December 1,1990, the guard and reserves were
now used in four roles:
-- To provide combat service support units for the additional combat
forces being sent to Southwest Asia from the United States and Europe.
-- To increase Army land combat capability against Iraqi forces, the
most immediate need being field artillery.
-- To provide suitable forces to reinforce Southwest Asia, if the
situation required. This would best be done with mechanized or armored
(i.e., heavy) combat units. The Army only had available parts of two
active heavy divisions in the United States. Thus, the Army called up
the guard's heavy ground combat brigades and battalions, which are
-- To provide U.S. and European commands with the critical
capabilities and services that had been halted or degraded by the
deployment of active forces to Southwest Asia.
Although expanded mobilization ceilings would have permitted the
activation of Capstone units, particularly those large reserve units
that had formed the principal pre-war support structure for the Army
component of Central Command, the Army primarily activated elements of
As the Chief of Staff of the Third Army said, introduction of all
the Capstone-allgned reserve general officer commands late in the
deployment would have severely interrupted a functioning, albeit
ad-hoc, mixed active-reserve support command and control structure at
a critical point of buildup for the offensive.
Making Units Ready and Measuring Them
Even as mobilization policy evolved and changed, units were
reporting to their mobilization centers making ready for war. The
central question was whether they were ready.
Readiness is measured on a scale of 1 to 4. C-1 is the top, C-4
the bottom. (Another category, C-5, covers units in the midst of
reorganization or being re-equipped.)
The standard the Army set for deploying combat support and combat
service support units was C-3 -- not an exceptionally demanding
standard. It meant a unit had to have about 70 percent of authorized
people (number and skills), 65 percent of authorized equipment (number
and readiness), and need no more than 5-6 weeks of additional
Nonetheless, as the call-up proceed Forces Command, the Army
command responsible for providing, training and equipping forces,
found it increasingly difficult to provide support units that met this
-- The pool of critical and unique combat service support units and
skills (e.g., surgeons and nurses, truck drivers and maintenance
technicians, water treatment specialists) was becoming exhausts By the
end of the mobilization period, the Army had called up eight of the
nine guard medium truck companies, eight of the nine guard evacuation
hospitals, all six guard water purification units and 71 of the 119
military police units. The Army Reserve had comparable call-up rates.
-- The readier units were called up first. Forces Command reported
that between August and early November 1990,15 percent of Army units
reporting to mobilization stations were rated as not deployable (i.e.,
C~/5). From early November 1990 to mid-January 1991, 34 percent were
rated as not deployable.
Forces Command had increasing difficulty improving the incoming
combat support units to a C-3 rating. Early efforts to move people
from one unit to another, due to lack of access to the IRR, greatly
exacerbated the problem for later deploying units. Further, the
mobilization stations were running out of equipment to make up for the
equipment shortfalls of newly arriving units.
Some expedient solutions were avallable. Fuel handlers could
become water handlers. But these solutions were limited.
By the end of the mobilization, Forces Command had nearly
exhausted its ability to put together the kind of support units needed
in Southwest Asia.
One reason for the readiness problem at the mobilization centers
was that the units being called up simply were not as ready as the
Army's rating system had said they were. The report that is used to
capture readiness is the Army's Unit Status Report. This report allows
a unit much discretion and, it turns out, was a poor predictor of how
well-prepared a unit was to do its job.
One guard hospital unit arrived at the mobilization station rated
C-2 and, therefore, supposedly deployable. It had more than 80 percent
of its authorized personnel. The problem was that it had none of the
12 doctors required by the unit.
One brigade reported itself to be C-2 overall despite being short
Many reserve component Military Police units did not have the
Kigh Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV). This bigger, more
powerful successor to the jeep was required for service in Southwest
Asia and had to be supplied to the units.
Other units had never been assigned their full complement of
equipment during peacetime, training each year with borrowed
Each unit assessed its own rating under pressures to inflate
ratings to make unit performance look better. Several of the officers
interviewed for this paper said higher headquarters inflated their
ratings before sending them on to Washington.
The Army has a failsafe system, however, to prevent unready units
from deploying to a combat theater. Since the Korean war, the Army had
required a formal validation of reserve component unit's readiness by
active-duty commanders at the mobilization station before the unit
could deploy outside the United States.
This prevents the Army from sending units Into combat that are
not ready, but it does nothing to prevent them from arriving at the
mobilization station that way.
Large Combat Units --A Special Case
In mid-November the Army mobilized three heavy combat brigades
and three heavy combat battalions. Although reserve component units,
these roundout units were parts of active-duty divisions.
The Army had long planned that in a short-notice deployment it
would replace each roundout brigade with an active-duty brigade. In
such a situation, the Army expected that the roundout brigades would
arrive in theater no earlier than 45-days after mobilization.
Plans for extended post-mobilization training of the roundout
units reflected the Army's belief that the synchronization and
integration slIIIs needed to use battalion- and brigade-sized units
effectively could not be attained quicuy after mobilization by units
limited to 39 days of training per year.
The Army viewed deploying these units to Southwest Asia without
the needed training as unnecessary as long as more combat capable,
active-duty units were still available to meet theater requirements.
Additionally, the Army Chief of Staff established a requirement
that the reserve component combat units must meet the highest standard
of readiness (C- l) prior to being deployed to Southwest Asia. After
mobilization the roundout brigades were assessed as less ready than
the units had originally assessed themselves. A large number of
active-duty personnel were committed to training the roundout
The commanders of the roundout brigades recognized the need for
some post-mobilization trinning to develop the needed skills. However,
one month was a common estimate by them for the time needed. Much more
training proved necessary.
The roundout brigades spent about three months in intensive
training at sites in the United States, including the National
Training Center. By the time the war ended, one brigade was validated
for deployment. None of the roupdout units was deployed to Southwest
By contrast, two reserve component arallery brigades did deploy
to Southwest Asia. These combat support units were mobilized for about
two months (including one month training at Fort Sill) before
deploying. Both brigades engaged in combat, but only one, the l 42nd
Field Artillery Brigade, fought as a brigade.
The 142nd Brigade was notable for an aggressive peacetime
leadership that achieved a very high level and intensity of peacetime
training, including participation in: unusually large number of
exercises with active-duty units in peacetime. The unit sustained a
high level of personnel, generally in excess of 100 percent of
deployment levels and managed access to and training on equipment that
enabled it to operate compatibly with active arllery units.
Overall Impact of Army Guard and Reserve
In summary, the reserve components played a key role in
supporting the Army's combat forces during Operations Desert
Deficiencies in the pre-war readiness of the Army's combat
service support and combat support units made the mobilization process
longer and more difficult than expected. Despite these difficulties,
these support units were made ready and performed with skill and
The Marine Corps has structured its 40,000 selected reservists as
a separate division consisting of the 4th Marine Division (with 50
percent of the reservists), the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing (with 25
percent) and the 4th Force Service Support Group (with 25 percent). In
wartime, these units would augment or reinforce the three active-duty
divisions, or provide a fourth division.
The Marine Corps activated and deployed to Southwest Asia a larger
percent of its available selected reserves than any other service.
-- The Marine Corps activated about 30,000 selected reservists
(about 75 percent of the available force). This included almost all of
the combat units in the Marine 4th Division (infantry and armored
units) as well as field artillery, antiaircraft arillery, aviation,
intelligence and reconnaissance, combat engineering, and support
About 15,000 selected reservists were in Southwest Asia at the
peak of the war, representing about 17 percent of the Marine Corps
in-theater strength. These units included an infantry regimental
headquarters, four infantry battalions, oneplus tnnk battalions, six
artillery batteries, and five aircraft squadrons.
Several thousand reservists were deployed to replace active-duty
combat and support units that had deployed to Southwest Asia from the
Pacific and to participate in a major training exercise in the
After Operation Desert Storm began, the Marines activated almost
7,000 Individual Ready Reservists (almost 20 percent of the force) to
provide replacements for anticipated casualties. None were deployed to
How the Marine Mobilization Evolved
In August 1990, the Marine view reflected their pre-war
mobilization planning. It envisioned active forces able to sustain
themselves for the first 60 days of a crisis. Because the reserves had
no early role (and possibly no role at all), no reserve units were
In October 1990, when the ftrst reserve units were being called
up, the reserves were used to provide replacements for active support
units sent to Southwest Asia from other theaters and to supplement the
By December 1990, the view of the reserves' role changed to
follow the President's decision in early November to prepare for an
offensive. With the increase in call-up authority e 15,000 Marine
reservists on November 14,1990, and then to 23,000 reservists on
December 1,1990, the reserves were used for two roles:
--To increase Marine amphibious and land combat capability
against Iraqi forces.
--To maintain the Marines' global responsibilities in the other
theaters. With no active units available in the United States to do
it, this meant using reservists beyond those needed for Southwest
--2,300 reservists to deploy to the III Marine
Expeditionary Force (MEF) in Okinawa to replace units deployed to
--1,700 reservists to deploy to thefl MEF to support a
long planned NATO exercise off Norway (BaNe 6nffm-91).
Caught in Midst of revitalization
When the Gulf crisis began, the Marine Corps Reserves were in the
midst of a revitalization. Major improvements had been made, but the
reserves had not overcome some long-standing deficiencies.
-- One officer, an active-duty adviser to a tank unit, said this
tank company had gone from "a bean-countmg, statistics- driven,
good-old-boy unit that never fired its tank guns for one 14-month
period, and never even thought about mobilizing and going to war"
to a unit of dedicated people focused on deployment readiness and hard
training. Despite the progress, the unit still had mid-1970s tanks and
had never been evaluated in the basic live fire tests of tank crew and
-- Active and reserve commanders alike said that the deficiencies in
the command and control of battalion-sized reserve units were linked
to limited peacetime training time and the dispersed locations of
Making the Units Ready For Deployment
The Marine Corps required that all deploying units beat a C-2
level of readiness, and said that all mobilizing units met that
Unlike the Army, the Marine Corps had faith in the accuracy of
the readiness reporting system because of the smallness of the force,
the close supervision exercised by the active-duty Marines over the
reserves, the widespread active-duty experience among Marine Corps
reserve officers, and the operation of all active-duty instructor and
inspector detachments down to reserve company level.
For these reasons, coupled with the reinvigorated training
program, the active Marines generally believed that small combat units
such as companies, batteries and platoons were trained to do their
basic wartime tasks. There was no formal validation process.
In a few cases, the Marine Corps took extraordinary measures to
overcome known deficiencies in its reserve combat forces, like
re-equipping two reserve tank companies and having the Army train them
in the use of the M-1 tank prior to deployment.
However, at least 5 of the 20 company-sized units noted as having
some training weaknesses were eventually employed in combat and
continued to exist at the company and battery level -- particularly in
the case of the non-infantry arms such as armor and artr1ery.
The reserve combat units deploying to Southwest Asia underwent a
30-day predeployment training period at Camp under the guidance of the
2nd Marine Division. As the Army found during its mobilization station
processing of combat support and service support units, the press of
time and other constraints limited what the Marine Corps could do to
correct training shortcomings, or to overcome the systemic reserve
component weakness in battalion-level command and control, even though
unit commanders could tailor training to unit deficiencies.
Critical training limitations included:
-- A lack of training equipment to replace that previously shipped
to Southwest Asia.
-- Too little time to train individuals in their military
-- Little tank gunnery or artillery live fire.
-- Littie company or battalion maneuver training.
In general, the Marine Corps found, as did the Army, that the
mobilization station was not an efficient place to train units to
acquire basic combat skills.
Once in theater, all reserve combat units were fully integrated
into active units and continued to train, with an emphasis on
preparing for specific missions, for example, breaching operations.
The training that enabled units to overcome pre-deployment
weaknesses remained constrained by several factors:
-- Reserve tank companies who were weak in gunnery skills found it
difficult to improve because their live fire was limited to
fixed-position, short-range firing at static targets and training
ammunition was limited.
-- Artillery ammunition was constrained.
-- Due to their late arrival in Southwest Asia, the five reserve
combat battalions were given limited time to practice battalion-level
-- Equipment related problems, out of the control of reserve combat
units, cut into the time they could spend training and so hindered
their preparation for Operation Desert Storm.
--Some pre-positioned equipment was inoperable (e.g., oil and
transmission fluid seals rotted so turrets and main guns were
inoperable, batteries died and tires rotted so vehicles were
--Some equipment shipped from the United States arrived later than
the reserve umts.
--The maintenance support and spare parts needed to repair and
sustain equipment were in short supply. New support equipment on which
units had to become proficient was issued in theater, such as the
Global Positioning System that uses satellites to pinpoint the
location of units with a portable ground receiver.
Some Marine Corps units were able to correct their peacetime
training deficiencies, and some were not, prior to combat:
-- Active Marines still considered reserve units to be comparatively
weak at effectively coordinating battalion-level operations.
At least two of eight reserve artillery batteries improved so
much that an active Marine artillery regimental commander judged them
to be the best two units in his mixed active-reserve organization.
One officer's after-action report on tank company combat said the
company considered itself lucky that its training deficiencies did not
lead it to serious battlefield harm.
Into Combat as Smaller Units
During Operation Desert Storm, the Marine Corps' 4th Division did
not fight at division or regimental/brigade level. Five combat
battalions deployed, but most were used for rear area security, for
handling POWs and for regimental reserve. Only one fought in combat as
The Marines detached companies from other battalions to engage in
active combat. Twenty company-sized units (including four tank
companies and six artillery batteries) fought in combat with
effectiveness, initiative and courage.
Combat Support and Service Support: A Special Case
The manner in which the Marine Corps employed its reserve combat
support and service support structure was directiy related to the
scope of Operation Desert Storm requirements and forced the Marine
Corps logistics units to operate well beyond peacetime doctrine,
manning and equipment levels. For example:
-- Pre-Operation Desert Shield, Marine Corps truck units expected
one-way line hauls of 30 - 50 miles. In Southwest Asia, truck units
confronted one-way line-haul requirements of 175-200 miles.
--Although Operation Desert Storm required that truck units
operate 24 hours per day, peacetime manning, which had reduced the
number of drivers per truck in active units from 2 to 1.5, meant that
the active motor transport battalions had just 60 - 70 percent of
their authorized drivers. This precluded around-theclock operations in
The extent of the inadequacy of the Marine Corps support
structure became evident by early November. Then, the Marine Corps
adopted a number of expedients that resulted in the call up of about
36 percent of the Marine reserve support structure. This caused the
reserve units to be employed in ways that the Marine Corps Selected
Reserve commander termed less than optimal. The Marine Corps:
-- Relied on the Army to haul its fuel.
-- Disregarded its mobilization principle of unit replacement and
integrity when it activated its ouly reserve motor transport battalion
and then broke it up to provide drivers for the two active transport
battalions, and to create a graves registration unit.
-- Activated and retrained other reserve units to get 600 drivers
needed to enable the remnant of the reserve motor transport battalion
to meet new missions (driving commercial tractor trailers, or
supervising third-country national contract drivers).
-- Placed the reconstituted reserve motor transport battalion under
the direction of an active-duty officer.
-- Broke up its only reserve engineer battalion in order to retrain
150 of its people to be bulk fuel handlers, and attached the rest of
the engineers to active units where combat engineers were in short
In short, like the Army, the Marine Corps found its support
structure severely stressed by the Operation Desert Storm
requirements. Unlike the Army, which found it had sufficient depth in
the reserve structure to meet most requirements, the Marine Corps had
no depth from the beginning either in the active or reserve support
Overall Impact of Marine Reserve
In summary, the Marine Corps mobilized about two-thirds of its
selected reserve, including most of the 4th Division's combat units,
and integrated them fully into the active-duty units.
Limitations in training (and in some cases equipment) prevented
the adequate preparation of battalion and regimental-sized units.
Company-sized reserve combat units provided effective combat
capabilities during Operation Desert Storm.
Whatever the problems ad deficiencies they faced during Operation
Desert Shield, Marine reserve units overcame them and performed in
Operation Desert Storm with distinction.
The Air Force has structured its 200,000 guard and reserve people
primarily into small units (e.g., squadrons). In wartime these units
would surge their routine peacetime support ta¥the Military Air
Command (MAC) for airlift missions, to the Strategic Air Command (SAC)
for air refueling missions, and to the Tactical Air Command TAC) for
tactical combat missions.
The Air Force relied more heavily and earlier on its reserves
than the other services:
The Air Force activated almost 50,000 guard and reservists, about
25 percent of the available force. More than half was to support MAC
by providing airlift, the rest to support TAC by providing fighter
squadrons and SAC by providing air refueling. (The Air Force activated
less than 1,000 members of the Individual Ready Reserve.) These guard
and reserve personnel also provided communications, intelligence,
aeromedical evacuation and other support.
-- Approximately 11,000 guard and reserve personnel (about half
guard, half reserve) were in Southwest Asia at the peak of the war.
They made up an estimated 20 percent of the Air Force in-theater
strength. The three reserve component combat squadrons (F-16s, A-16s,
A-10s) that fought in the war made up about 5 percent of the Air Force
-- Many guard and reserve personnel remained in the United States to
backfill units that had deployed overseas.
At the beginning of the crisis, the Air Force relied heavily on
volunteers. In August 1990, volunteers from the Air Force reserve
components flew 42 percent of all strategic airlift missions and 33
percent of the aerial refueling missions.
Immediately after receiving authority to call up 14,500 guard and
reservists on August 23,1990, the Air Force called to active duty
three guard and three reserve squadrons to support MAC: five squadrons
provided C-5s and C-141Bs for military airlift: one squadron provided
airlift terminal and cargo managers. The Air Force eventually called
all its reserve C-5 crews and nearly all of its C-141 crews.
In subsequent call-ups, as its authority increased to 20,000
people on November 14,1990, the Air Force continued to emphasize
non-combat units until December 1990, when it mobilized three fighter
squadrons in support of TAC.
In selecting a unit to deploy, the commands relied on prewar
mdicators of unit readiness (as they had been plamiing to do) and did
not formally validate the readiness of the unit.
Tailored to Meet Requirements
The Air Force tailored its use of the guard and reserve to meet
the military requirements in Southwest Asia
-- A great deal of airlift and refueling was needed to move cargo
and airplanes. The active force did not have the units to do the work.
-- A few combat squadrons were needed when no more active squadrons
were available. Had even more combat squadrons been needed, the
majority would likely have come from the Air Force Guard and Reserve.
TAC called up units from the reserve components only after it had
deployed all the available active squadrons. The Air Force had decided
early in the crisis to take no active units from the Pacific, no more
than half of the active units from Europe, ad only two squadrons from
each active wing in the United States.
In December 1990, there were no more active combat units
available to be deployed, so the Air Force mobilized three reserve
component squadrons: F-16s from McEntire ANGB, SC; F-16s from
Syracuse, NY; and A-10s from New Orleans, LA. These squadrons were
picked because their engines and avionics were compatible with
aircraft at the airfields in Southwest Asia that had space for them,
for the quality they demonstrated in peacetime competitions, for their
close ties to an active unit and (in one case) for their unique
equipment. All three squadrons were fully integrated into Operation
Overall Impact ofAir Force Guard and Reserve
In summary, the Air Force integrated into its active forces a
critical part of its guard and reserve: many airlift ad refueling
squadrons, making an absolutely essential contribution to moving cargo
and aircraft; a few squadrons providing combat forces beyond what the
active forces could provide; and some units providing selected skills
to support the deployed forces. The Air Force guard and reserve played
a key role in the war outcome.
The Navy structured its 150,000 selected reservists primarily to
man any Naval Reserve Force Ships that were mobilized in a war, to
provide a surge capability to support the high level of wartime
operations of deployed forces, ad to provide key wartime support
(including medical services to handle a high level of casualties).
The Navy activated and deployed to Southwest Asia fewer
reservists than any other service:
The Navy activated about 20,000 selected reservists, about 15
percent of the available force and less than 20 Individual Ready
Reservists. Reservists were called primarily for their individual
skills, with medical reservists comprising half of the total called.
About 7,000 reservists were in Southwest Asia at the peak of the
war, representing about 8 percent of the Navy in theater strength. Few
reservists had a combat role.
In the early weeks of August 1990, ... before call-up authority
was given, the Navy put on active duty a small number of volunteers
from the reserve. These reservists augmented logistics and cargo
Immediately after getting authority on August 23,1990 for 6,300
reservists, the Navy called up selected elements of 127 units from 34
states and the District of Columbia. Most had the mission of providing
essential medical services, while others were to provide port and
harbor security, sea lift support, minesweeping and shipping
coordination. In subsequent call ups, as the Navy authority increased
to 30,000 reservists by December 1,1990, its priority for reserve unit
missions remained essentially the same, with medical units remaining
first in priority.
In its reserve call-ups the Navy continued to emphasize selected
individuals for their skills, rather than units for their roles.
Unlike the other services, the Navy did not create sub-units to get
access to individuals or small groups. The Navy viewed the call-up
authority as permitting it to call up skilled individuals as needed,
and not just entire units.
In selecting reserve units to deploy, the Navy relied on prewar
readiness indicators (as it had been planning to do) and did not
formally validate the readiness of the units or individuals.
Tailored to Meet Needs
The Navy tailored its use of the reserves to meet the warfighting
needs in Southwest Asia.
-- Many medical people were needed. The Navy provided over half of
all medical beds in support of the Central Command, including two
hospital ships and three fleet hospitals. The CENTCOM surgeon's office
singled the Navy out for special praise for their responsiveness to
the need for medical units,
-- Few augmentees were needed for combat ships. As then envisioned,
in a general war with the Soviet Union, reservists would have been
used to anament active crews to support around-the-clock operations on
combat ships. In the Gulf war the pace of operations was less intense.
For example, aircraft carriers normally conducted flight operations
about 12 hours per day.
-- More minesweeping was needed. The active forces had only two of
the ships needed, so the Navy activated two Naval reserve mine
sweeping vessels, the USSA Adroit and the USS Impervious. Once in the
Gulf, they did the critical coordinated training needed with
helicopters that tow mine sweeping sleds and explosive ordnance
demolition teams. (The Navy did not deploy reserve air mine sweeping
units, but relied on active units, which had the more modem
Overall Impact of Navy Reserve
In summary, the Navy effectively integrated a critical part of
its selected reserve with its active force: half of its medical
reservists, making a major contribution to the medical service; a few
units providing a capability not available in the active force; and
some reservists providing selected skills to augment and support
Naval Quarantine in the Persian Gulf Crisis
The initial U.S. military presence in the region consisted of the
seven ships of the Joint Task Force Middle East that are permanently
stationed in the Persian Gulf. On August 7,1990, five days after the
invasion, the Independence carrier baNe group arrived in the Gulf of
Oman and the Eisenhower carrier baNe group passed through the Suez
Canal en route to the Red Sea.
On August 15, ships from Maritime Prepositioned Squadron Two,
based at Diego Garcia, arrived in Saudi Arabia and began to unload
their cargo of military equipment and sustaming supplies for the
Seventh Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB). Shortly thereafter
military equipment and sustaining supplies for the First MEB began to
In September 1990, naval forces had increased to 52 ships,
including two carrier battle groups. In addition, one battleship and
the Kennedy carrier battle group were operating in the Eastern
Mediterranean. In October, forces increased to 58 ships, including
three carrier battle groups and four mine countermeasures ships.
In November 1990, planning and operations shifted to an offensive
posture and additional ship deployments were ordered. By the time the
air campaign started on January 17, the United States had 127 ships
deployed in the region, including six U.S. carrier battle groups. At
the time, allied navies had an additional 72 ships in the region.
The Naval Quarantine
On August 16, U.S. Navy ships began maritime intenliction
operations, the enforcement mechanism for the naval quarantine of
Iraq. The first ship diversion, a Chinese vessel en route from Iraq to
Qing Dao, China, occurred on August 18. As part of the coalition
effort to conduct interdiction operations, 13 countries deployed naval
forces to the Gulf and six additional countries provided some form of
The naval quarantine was carried out, during the war, consistent
with United Nations Security Council Resolution 661 and subsequent
resolutions that sought, before the war, to bring economic pressure on
Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait and later to cut off the flow of war
Interdiction forces generally operated in the Persian Gulf and
the Red Sea. Interdiction also involved deploying U.S. Navy units
operating in the Mediterranean to identify any attempts by Algeria and
Libya to provide support for Iraq or to interfere with allied
Iraq is particularly susceptible to quarantine. It is a largely
landlocked country with only limited access to the Persian Gulf.
Before the war, approximately 60 percent of Iraqi imports arrived by
sea, with the remainder arriving overland through Turkey. About 90
percent of the ocean transported imports arrived through the Jordanian
port of Aqaba on the Red Sea, and the remainder through Kuwaiti or
Iraqi ports on the Persian Gulf.
Because of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the presence of
allied naval units in the Persian Gulf, the number of merchant ships
operating in the Gulf quickly declined. Relatively few ships attempted
to take cargos directly to Iraq. However, commercial traffic in the
Red Sea remained high throughout Operations Desert Shield/Desert
Storm. Many ships carrying embargoed cargo to the Jordanian port of
Aqaba for land shipment to Iraq were intercepted and turned away.
Typical Interdiction Operations
The Maritime Interdiction Force (MlF) continues to monitor all ocean
traffic and to challenge all vessels potentially carrmg contraband
cargo bound for Iraq. At any given time, 10 to 15 U.S. and allied
ships are direclly involved in interdiction operahons. The U.S. Navy
generally used the ship motor whaleboat for boardings. But in rough
seas, it proved difficult to launch and to approach larger vessels.
Navy crews engaged in interdiction operations expressed an urgent need
for new rigid hull, inflatable boats for boarding operations.
Importance of Training
U.S. Navy personnel generally learned to conduct interdiction
operations once they arrived in theater. Although there were some
similarities with drug interdiction operations in the Caribbean,
maritime interdiction operations in the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea
were significanlly different. Specialized training was necessary for
the ships and their crews to be effective, but this requirement did
not pose any difficulty.
The level of training and experience operating out of home waters
were significant factors affecting individual units' effectiveness in
MIF operations. For example, a U.S. commander reported that Greek and
Spanish naval units had not operated out of their home waters since
the 1940's which, in turn, affected their confidence when deployed to
the Persian Gulf region. In a similar vein, some allied navies
expressed a preference for using U.S. Navy helicopters to support MlF
operations rather than their own helicopters. This preference was due
primarily to a lack of experience with at-sea airborne operations.
Command and Control of MIF Operations
There was no unified command structure for ships of the thirteen
allied nations that participated in naval operations during Operations
Desert Shield/Desert Storm. But the lack of a unified
command structure did not prevent effective coordination and conduct
of operations. Naval commanders credit a long history of joint
exercises between U.S. and allied navies for the successful level of
MIF Stopped Flow of Prohibited Items
To date, maritime interdiction has effectively controlled all
except the smallest coastal craft movement into and out of Iraq and
other ports serving as transshipping points to Iraq. Iraqi merchant
ships have stopped operating in the Gulf.
The operation has virtually ended all sea commerce of prohibited
items into and out of Iraq. Interdiction forces found and diverted all
types of contraband cargo including misslles, precursor chemicals,
command and control vehicles and assorted Soviet military equipment.
The interdiction effort has also prevented other goods with military
applications such as fuel additives, tires, desalination chemicals and
filters and electronic components from entering Iraq. These are
products the Iraqi economy is unable to produce for itself. The
blockade also reduced supplies of food, clothing and refined petroleum
At the same time, the allied naval control of the Persian Gulf
has allowed routine sea commerce to and from other nations in the
Persian Gulf region to continue without interruption.
MIF Effect on Iraqi Wafflghting Uncertain
The effect of MIF operations on the ability and willingness of
Iraqi forces to fight is unclear because the military services have
conducted little analysis. Because such an undertaking would be
difficult and perhaps ultimately inconclusive, it apparently has not
even been attempted.
We do know that allied forces entering Kuwait after the war found
that vehicles remaining in the country had been stripped of tires and
that Iraqi soldiers were also desperately short of food and water.
These indicators can be explained in at least two ways. One is that
Iraqi doctrine and operating practices may dictate against large-scale
resupply efforts, or that supplies were withheld from forces in the
field. The second explanation is a limited ability to resupply due to
Given what we know of the deleterious effects of the quarantine
on other sectors of the Iraqi economy, it seems reasonable to assume
that the U.N.-sponsored embargo hampered Saddam's military apparatus
Planning for Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm
Military planning during the Cold War was focused on the prospect
of a confrontation between the Soviet-led Eastern Bloc and the West,
chiefly on the central front in Europe. With the end of the Cold War,
this predominant planning focus is shifting and, in its wake, a more
complex planning challenge is eyolving. As the first major military
crisis of the post-Cold War era, the war with Iraq provides a useful
opportunity to analyze the planning process.
CENTCOM's New Planning Focus
From its inception in 1983, the Central Command's (CENTCOM) focus
had been on a Soviet invasion of Iran. Due to the Soviet withdrawal
from Afghanistan and a growing appreciation of Iraq as a regional
threat, CENTCOM's planning focus changed in the late 19805. In late
1989, CENTCOM Commander in Chief General H. Norman Schwarzkopf
directed CENTCOM to shift the focus of strategic planning for the
region to a possible attack by Iraq on Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
The draft contingency plan in place when Iraq invaded Kuwaitinthe
summer of 1990 contained three phases: deterrence of 7-an Iraqi attack
against Saudi Arabia, defense of Saudi Arabia should deterrence fail,
and a notional counteroffensive against Iraqi forces. Air and ground
operations were integral parts of all phases of the draft plan.
Prior to the August 2,1990 Iraqi invasion, only the first two
phases of the contingency plan had been developed in any detail. The
third phase detailing a counteroffensive remained undeveloped because
of the CENTCOM staff's uncertainty as to how the contingency might
develop and their inability to define the threat more fully. However,
the notional concept for the third phase envisioned added heavy land
forces to the lighter defensive forces already in place.
During the summer of 1990, a crisis simulation or exercise was
conducted to test the plan in detail. This exercise involved
commanders and staffs from a wide variety of units that would be
assigned to CENTCOM in the event of an actual war. The specific plan
tested in this exercise focused on a threatened attack by Iraq through
Kuwait into Saudi Arabia. That plan peovided for deployment of the
equivalent of 42/3 Army and Marine divisions focused around the Army's
XVIII Airborne Corps and a Marine Expeditionary Force. It would be
supported by 15 U.S. Air Force tactical fighter squadrons and three
U.S. Navy carrier battle groups.
Based on this exercise, planners recognized that the U.S. force
would require additional heavy armored forces in order to counter
large Iraqi mechanized forces. Consequently, planners added another
heavy division to the contingency plan's order of battle.
CENTCOM's ability to plan for and ultimately execute with
confidence Operation Desert Storm was enhanced by years of U.S.
presence in the Persian Gulf region. Significant secunty assistance
programs, land and sea-based prepositioned supplies, and a significant
naval presence since the 1987 tanker escorting operations during the
Iran-Iraq war are just some examples of the many planning and
operational advantages CENTCOM enjoyed.
Planning the Air Campaign
The draft CENTCOM plan included deployment of air forces into the
theater as a deterrent force and, if necessary, to conduct counter-air
and air-interdiction operations against Iraqi forces. The planning
concept for the U.S. counteroffensive included a strategic air
However, the CENTCOM plan did not provide for a specific and
detailed air campaign against Iraq. The Operation Desert Storm
offensive air campaign plan -- characterized by devastating,
simultaneous attacks on political, military and industrial targets in
Iraq and on Iraqi forces in Kuwait -- did not exist as anything more
than a concept prior to August 2,1990.
There have been valid criticisms of the pre-war plan's detailed
focus on defense and deterrence instead of offensive operations.
Although General Schwarzkopf had correclly identified the threat to
the region, he decided that the third phase of the plan should remain
vague. In hindsight, it would have been better to have planned the
strategic air campaign in advance, because the majority of the targets
were fixed and coyld have been identified. Even though aircraft were
in theater within days after the invasion, the lack of a detailed
offensive plan would have hampered effective air operations had they
been required at that time.
Detailed planning within CENTCOM Headquarters for an air campaign
began immediately after August 2, and emphasized a defensive air
campaign in the event that Iraq invaded Saudi Arabia. However, it did
not take long for air planning to shift to the offense. Within the
first week following the decision to deploy U.S. forces to Saudi
Arabia, a planning cell within the Air Staff in Washington developed a
more detailed approach for a strategic air campaign.
The Air Staffs approach focused on attacking critical Iraqi
"centers of gravity" that, it was hoped, might lead to the
withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait and the destruction of Iraq's
nuclear, biological and chemical capabilities. Following a briefing of
the conceptual plan with General Schwarzkopf, the concept was further
developed, and the Air Staff planning cell was augmented by staff
officers from the other services. The plan prepared by the Air Staff
was then taken to the theater, where it was used by the Central
Command Air Force (CENTAF) planning staff as a baseline to develop
CENTCOM's more detailed and more focused offensive air campaign plan.
The plan envisioned a phased application of air power, ftrst to
obtain air superiority, then to attack Iraq's command and control and
warmaking potential, and finally, to prepare the battlefield in the
Kuwaiti theater of operations (KTO). Initially focused on some 84
targets in Iraq and the Kuwaiti theater of operations, the plan had
grown to 174 targets by September 13 when General Schwarzkopf decided
that the offensive air campaign plan was ready.
Throughout the period of Operation Desert Shield, a continuous
dialogue took place among the CENTAF planners, the Air Staffs
"Checkmate" planning cell and the Navy's "Spear"
intelligence group as the process of identiiying strategic targets
continued and the plan evolved. Important details of the final plan
were not decided for several months. By the time~e air campaign began
on January 17,1991, the plan had grown to include 386 separate targets
and would ultimately grow to 723 targets.
One issue that arose during the planning of the air campaign was
whether or not the use of air power alone could achieve U.S. military
and political objectives in the Gulf. Instant Thunder (as this
air-only plan was called) was not executed, however, because senior
military planners and DOD officials believed that an air- only option
could not guarantee the withdrawal of the Iraqi army from Kuwait.
Planned Air Campaign Had Four Phases
CENTCOM's air campaign plan for Operation Desert Storm was
composed of four phases. The first, or strategic phase, was intended
to destroy Iraq's integrated air defense system, gain air superiority
over the Iraqi air force, destroy Iraq's strategic offensive
capabilities (nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and production
facilities and SCUD tactical ballistic missiles, launchers, and
production capabilities), and disrupt Iraqi command, control and
communications to its armed forces.
Phase II was intended to suppress Iraqi air defenses in the KTO
to provide freedom of action for Phase III attacks against Iraqi
Regular Army and Republican Guards in the KTO. The Phase III attacks
were meant to isolate the Iraqi army in the KTO, cut it off from its
source of resupply and reinforcements, and then reduce it to the level
that a ground campaign could be conducted with minimal casualties.
Phase IV provided air support to the ground offensive.
Planning for the Ground Offensive
Planning for the ground offensive campaign began almost
immediately after the Iraqi invasion and was done on a close-hold,
compartmented basis by small planning cells in both CENTCOM and the
Pentagon. For about three months, knowledge of the planning was
limited to a handful of senior officials.
In early October, the CENTCOM ground plan called for penetration
of Iraqi defenses in Kuwait and a relatively shallow envelopment to
the west to trap Iraqi forces. Although the exact numbers of Iraqi
troops were unknown, their strength steadily increased throughout the
fall and their defenses extended farther and farther west.
CENTCOM recognized that conducting a shallow envelopment with the
number of allied forces in theater and against the ever-stronger Iraqi
forces had problems. The available U.S. and allied ground forces
restricted the scope of a ground attack toafairly direct drive into 4
Iraqi defenses. However, CENTCOM believed it was the only executable
ground campaign with the forces on hand. A wider envelopment would
have caused the attacking force to be split, leaving both elements
dangerously exposed to attack by Iraqi reserves. The shortcomings of
this plan fostered recognition of the need for additional ground
On November 8,1990, the President announced his decision to
increase U.S. forces in theater to provide a more effective offensive
option. With the decision to deploy the VII Corps from Europe, CENTCOM
planners developed a more detailed ground offensive plan that began to
take the form of the campaign that was ultimately conducted.
Additional forces meant that the envelopment could be shifted farther
to the west to circumvent the strength of the Iraqi defenses, envelop
the Iraqi Army in Kuwait and destroy the Republican Guard operational
reserve in southeastern Iraq.
This maneuver became known as the "Left Hook." It was to be
conducted in concert with the threat of an amphibious assault on the
Kuwaiti coast to focus Iraqi attention to the east and supporting
attacks by Marines and pan-Arab forces in the center to hold Iraqi
tactical reserves in place.
The assumption of a successful air campaign was integral to
planning for the ground campaign. The air campaign was to reduce Iraqi
ground units by at least 50 percent and Iraqi arllery by 90 percent in
those areas where breaching operations were anticipated.
Perhaps because of the compartmented nature of the planning
process, there are conflicting reports about the origins of the
"Left Hook," which was intended to capitalize on the superior
ability of U.S. forces to concentrate allied combat power against
Low Casualties the Highest Goal
In planning Operation Desert Storm, minimizing allied and
civilian casualties was the highest priority. From the outset of the
planning effort, air power was intended to be fully employed to
prepare the battlefield. Likewise, planning for the ground campaign
was to avoid Iraqi strengths and rely instead on deception and
maneuver to apply our strengths against Iraqi vulnerabitities.
Deploying overwhelming U.S. military force in the theater and doing
nothing to provoke a ground war before U.S. and allied forces were
ready also proved invaluable to CENTCOM's objective of minimizing
casualties in the conflict.
As mentioned, deception was a key element of Operation Desert
Storm and, in particular, of the ground campaign. The objective of the
deception was to convince the Iraqi leadership and army that the
coalition forces would attack directiy into the Iraqi defenses in
Kuwait, engaging in the battles of attrition that characterized the
Iran-Iraq War. This, in turn, would result in high U.S. casualties.
When the VII Corps deployed into the theater from Europe, it
occupied tactical assembly areas in the southeast. The VII Corps and
the already-deployed XVIII Corps delayed their movement to the west
until early February 1991, at which time the covert move commenced.
CENTCOM' s plan called for a feint by the 1St Cavalry Division to
reinforce the deception of the major coalition ground attack being
initiated in this central sector. Likewise, a small Marine Task Force
would mask a move westward by the 1st and 2nd Marine Divisions.
Marines afloat in the Persian Gulf would provide the credible threat
of an amphibious landing on the coast and tie down several Iraqi
divisions in the east.