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The First Cavalry Division's mission on G-day (February 24, 1991) was to conduct a feint attack up the Wadi Al Batin to make the Iraqis think that our attack was in fact the Theater's main ground attack. Meanwhile, far to the west, the XVIII Airborne Corps and the VII Corps were already striking deep into Iraq.

At 1200 hours on G-day, we deployed from our Ruqi road positions to the Berm to participate in a DIVARTY counterfire program (a "counterfire program" is a series of fire missions designed to neutralize enemy fire support assets). If was a pretty straightforward mission; by then we had a "been there, done that" attitude. In fact, after the Battle of Ruqi Pocket, we considered ourselves "seasoned veterans." This caused me some concern, because people were becoming too cocky and complacent for my comfort, both up and down the chain of command. We spent over an hour in position in broad daylight, firing volley after volley at Iraqi positions, without making so much as one survivability move. Throughout the counterfire program, I constantly had to yell at soldiers for taking their helmets and body armor off. "This is a combat situation, damn it!", I would tell them. It seemed as though our soldiers were regarding their Iraqi opposition with a great deal of contempt at this stage of the game; contempt that was perhaps well deserved, but its that kind of arrogance that gets people killed in war.

At about 1400 hours, following completion of the DIVARTY counterfire program, we moved east along the Berm to the Wadi Al Batin to fire the prep that initiated Operation Deep Strike. Deep Strike was the Blackjack Brigade's feint attack up the Wadi Al Batin. We fired lots of rounds -- obviously, everybody wanted to avoid the loss of life that occurred during Knight Strike -- and the Brigade moved steadily forward. We were firing so much ammo that we almost ran out -- ammunition HEMMTs moved full speed back and forth between the ASP (ammunition resupply point) and the firing batteries in a frantic effort to keep the firing batteries resupplied.

At 1900 hours on G-day, we crossed the Berm and moved forward into Iraq to keep up with the forward progress of the maneuver elements. It was already nightfall; a big concern we had at this stage of the game was surface ordnance. In the dark, it was very difficult to make out the telltale signs of minefields laid along our axis of advance, as well as unexploded friendly munitions, such as USAF cluster bomblets and the DPICM bomblets that we had fired earlier that day. What a cruel irony it would be, I thought, to be killed by a DPICM bomblet fired by my own unit. We were also concerned about running into bypassed Iraqi units; tankers and Bradley mechanized infantry units usually bypass enemy units of platoon size or smaller, because they don't want to delay their rate of advance unnecessarily. The last thing we needed was to be shot up by a bypassed, scared, and isolated, Iraqi tank platoon.

It got darker as we proceeded into Iraq. As was usual for that time of day, my GPS receiver stopped tracking the required three satellites to get reliable position and azimuth data. Consequently, I had to navigate using the old-fashioned way: dashboard compass and vehicle odometer. This meant that our progress was excessively slow. Finally, I viewed through my NVGs a screen line of Bradley's. I decided that I had gone far enough, and I called my PADS vehicle up to verify my grid location. PADS confirmed that we were within 200 meters of our destination grid, so I got on the battery net and directed the battery to emplace. We immediately started shooting fire missions, and shot all night long.

At 0800 hours the next morning, the Brigade advanced deeper into Iraq. After about a 20 kilometer advance, the Brigade hit a fire trench (the Iraqis would fill trenches with petroleum, light them on fire, and use them as an obstacle. They were an effective obstacle indeed). This caused the Brigade to pause their advance, so we took this opportunity to displace and move forward as well. Once we got to our forward positions, we fired non-stop at dug-in Iraqis on the other side of the fire trench. For the first time, we got some Iraqi counterfire; nothing really heavy, mainly sporadic and inaccurate cannon artillery fire. The closest the Iraqi artillery ever got to our positions was about one kilometer; close enough to get our attention, but not close enough to really hurt us. The only thing the Iraqi artillerymen accomplished with their counterfire was to expose their own positions to detection from our Q-36 radar. We had a MLRS platoon from the 1st Cav DIVARTY MLRS battery reinforcing us, and they quickly silenced any Iraqi counterfire threat while we continued to fire in support of maneuver. As a precaution, we conducted a survivability move of about 3 kilometers. Following that, we fired suppression missions to assist our aviators in extracting the crew of an Apache helicopter that was shot down on the Iraqi side of the fire trench.

By now, the VII Corps had made initial contact with the Iraqi Republican Guard. Therefore, it was pointless for us to continue a feint attack, for we had already accomplished our mission of tying down four Iraqi divisions while the VII Corps conducted their envelopment from the west. CINCCENT made the decision to withdraw us back into Saudi Arabia, and then commit us to VII Corps so that we could assist them in the final destruction of the vaunted Iraqi Republican Guard. Therefore, at 1700 hours, February 25, 1991, we received a change of mission, fired a massive smoke screen, and, behind that, the Blackjack Brigade withdrew back into Saudi Arabia.

Copyright 1994-2000, Andy Hoskinson. All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication or redistribution strictly prohibited. The 13th Signal Battalion photos are Copyright 1994-2000, Norman Jarvis.

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