DESERT STORM 25 YEARS LATER – AMERICA’S GROUND WAR – 25 YEARS LATER

Posted: February 7, 2016 in Uncategorized
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Coalition forces had been bombing Iraqi forces in Kuwait for over three weeks; twenty-five years ago this week.  America was glued to its’ televisions as was the majority of the world, including Iraq courtesy of CNN.  This was the first live coverage of a war and we all got to be friends with the CNN crew via the air waves.

At this time in the war I had been in Safaniya for about ten days.  Safaniya is just south of the Kuwaiti border.  February 1st I was in Abqaiq only occasionally coming under SCUD attack but for the most part safe and sound.  The television carried a couple of incidents that were sort of correct.

A week before February 1st we were watching television when a story broke of two Iraqi planes being shot down over Saudi.  Pictures of the radar screen were being shown to the press but large parts were blacked out due to security reasons.  I found that strange as the fight over the skies should pose no security problem as the planes came from Iraq, were intercepted and shot down.  Where the fight took place should have no real significance.

Another interesting item broke on television.  A story was told of American planes hitting a tanker at the Kuwaiti port that was being used as a spotter location for Iraqi troops to identify when raids were coming to Iraq.  Also, Saddam had ordered two huge lines be opened to allow millions of gallons of oil to flow into the sea.  The minister of environmental affairs addressed a press conference to discuss the ecological disaster of the oil in the gulf.  American planes had destroyed the facilitates and stopped the oil from entering the gulf.  The minister spoke of two oil spills.  The press jumped on this as there were to have been just one spill.  The minister stumbled on his words and soon exited the press conference.

When I arrived in Safaniya the two incidents were clarified.  A week earlier a friend in Abqaiq told me about being in the parking lot.  He said three fighter jets were flying at extremely low altitude at an incredible speed going south.  This is in a direction away from Kuwait and the war.  When I got to Safaniya a week later the contractor I had assigned to me told me what had happened.  He was on a job site one hundred miles south of Abqaiq.  He and his workers were looking up and saw two sets of planes coming together.  Two planes were shot down and all the workers jumped under trucks to protect themselves from the debris.  They clambered out to find the plane pieces had French markings on them signifying they were probably Mirage jets made in France.  Then the story of the blacked out radar screens made sense.  The planes identified in the press release were not Iraqi but instead originated in Yemen.  These planes were entering the war against the coalition troops.  The blackout parts of the radar screen probably showed ARMACO oil facilities in the middle of the desert and not something along the cost in the north of the country.  America did not want to bring Yemen into the fight and after the shooting down there was no more planes coming from that direction.

I was in Safaniya to fight the oil spill that came from Kuwait.  We had several water desalination plants in the area and the coalition forces were taking 32,000 gallons of fresh water from us every day.  If any oil got into the desalination plants they would be ruined we could no longer the fresh water to the troops.  When I first arrived I heard of not one but two spills.  Apparently when the planes hit the ship being used by the Iraqis in Kuwait harbor it was realized that it was a tanker full of oil and it formed the first spill.  Then a few days later Saddam opened the valves and poured more into the gulf and combined the two spills made up the largest oil spill in the world dwarfing the Exxon Valdez spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska.

The strangest part of my mission to Safaniya was that when I was traveling north I kept passing military vehicles going south.  Very few were going toward Kuwait.  When the war was over the story come out about this.  The Americans and other coalition forces had a huge military presence on the Kuwait border.  The Iraqis knew this force was going to invade directly into Kuwait.  Under the constant bombardment of the Iraqi forces, the Americans packed up and redeployed to the west and re-setup on the Iraqi border.  Those were the troops that I had witnessed and when the ground attack began the Iraqi’s were caught totally by surprise when they had been outflanked and invaded directly into Iraq.

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