Twenty two years ago, at about 2am, I was out in the desert of northern Saudi Arabia. We’d seen Coalition fighters and tankers cycling north to patrol stations for weeks. But this night, we saw multitudes of aircraft head north.
After months of fruitless negotiations and pleadings to Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, the US led Coalition forces began a massive aerial onslaught against Iraqi air defense, command and control, infrastructure, and deployed forces. The goal was to eject Iraqi forces from Kuwait. Before ground forces would engage the Iraqi Army, Coalition airpower, primarily US and British, but with help from others, to be sure, would set conditions for victory.
If airpower didn’t do all it claimed it could do, it was far more effective than in past wars, and learned a great deal about what could be done, and how.
Even as the air war began, ground forces were not yet ready to strike. The reason I was standing outside was my battalion’s Bradley’s had not yet arrived. Our vehicle crews waited at the port to unload and ready them, but us dismounts were already in our assembly area. It would be the 1st of February before our vehicles arrived. And even then, it would be almost another month before we struck.
I’ve said it before, you could not have built a scenario better suited for the heavy divisions of the Army in 1991 to demonstrate AirLand Battle Doctrine. Open spaces, an enemy largely equipped with Warsaw Pact weapons. Little to no involvement of civilian population areas.
More than 20 years after Desert Storm, no near peer is eager to face off with US forces in a fair fight.