Find a Security Clearance Job!

Military


The Berm

The Berm is a separation barrier on the Kuwait-Iraq border, constructed to stop an invasion of Kuwait by Iraq. The barrier was guarded by hundreds of soldiers, several patrol boats, and helicopters. The construction of the barrier was begun in 1991. Under Saddam Hussein's rule, Iraq viewed Kuwait as part of Iraq, and viewed The Berm as illegally separating two parts of Iraqi territory.

The 10-km-deep defensive linear obstacle complex along the Kuwait-Iraq border was literally a line in the sand. The berm was a combination of massive tank ditches, concertina wire, electrified fencing, and of course, berms of dirt. The whole complex - the berm, tank ditch, wire fence, electrified fence, wire fence, second berm, tank ditch, and then the third berm 10 km from the start point - was colloquially known as "the berm."

Crossing the berm was a major combat operation at the outset of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. Erected to defend the Kuwaiti border by delaying attacking Iraqi troops, the berm now had the same effect on coalition troops heading the other way. Breaching in the presence of Iraqi outposts required rapid action to deny the Iraqis the opportunity to attack vulnerable coalition units while they were constrained to advance slowly and in single file through the lanes in the berms. Finally, orchestrating the movement of literally thousands of vehicles through a relatively small number of openings required detailed planning and rehearsal, all adjusted quickly to meet the accelerating timetable.

Colonel Pat Donohue, V Corps operations officer, and Lieutenant Colonel Pete Bayer, G3 of the 3rd ID, coordinated, synchronized, and orchestrated the breach. Donohue, commander of Operations Group Bravo (OPS B) of the Battle Command Training Program (BCTP), on loan to V Corps, led the breach planning for V Corps. The 3rd actually had to execute the breach and accommodate not only its troops but corps and CFLCC units as well. Pete Bayer's practical approach to planning, along with his appreciation of 3rd ID's role in the fight, led to a palpable attitude of cooperation in planning and executing the breach. Bayer and 3rd ID accommodated the requirements of a host of other units that also needed to pass through the bottleneck at the breach.

The importance of the detailed planning of the movement through the berm cannot be overstated. This initial uncoiling would set the tone for the entire operation. The tasks included staging and coordinating the movement of 10,000 V Corps vehicles through these passage lanes and integrating the movement of TF Tarawa's convoys within the V Corps' serials. Although marines also breached to support I MEF, TF Tarawa's units needed to cross with 3rd ID to facilitate their operations in the An Nasiriyah area. V Corps and I MEF collaborated, as did their subordinate units, to ensure that this operation was executed to near perfection. Any mistake in the sequence of unit departures or routes could have taken days to overcome.

In January 2004, Kuwait decided to install a new 217 km iron separation barrier along the existing border. The stated needs were protecting the northern border, and preventing cars coming from Iraq from approaching the electricity bars. The barrier will cost an estimated 28 million dollars and will extend from Umm Qasr until the joint border triangle where Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Kuwait meet. Asphalted roads will be also constructed to facilitate border security movement.

In June 2004 the new Iraqi government expressed interest in setting up a security fence on the border with Kuwait and border checkpoints to be manned by Iraqi soldiers, Kuwaiti security sources said. In statements published on Monday [14 June] by the Kuwaiti Al-Ra'y al-Amm newspaper, the sources said such a measure would promote border security between the two countries and help strengthen security conditions to firmly prevent infiltration.

Kuwait began the construction of the new barrier in early 2005, to replace a three-meter high sand berms that had been in place for a decade. It was slated to be completed by the end of the year. In July 2005 several hundred Iraqis on Monday tore down a metal barrier recently put up by Kuwaiti authorities just over the border inside Iraqi territory. The demonstrators met in the town of Umm Qasr in southern Iraq before heading to the border to dismantle the barrier some 50 to 100 yards north of a ditch marking the border. Kuwaiti border guards trained their weapons on the demonstrators, who said it was being erected on their land, but there were no clashes.

On 22 November 2006 Iraq and Kuwait hammered out a key deal that would allow Kuwait to complete the building of a border fence and pay compensation to Iraqi farmers. "We have signed a deal ... after which Kuwait will be able to complete the construction of the security fence," Kuwaits foreign ministry undersecretary Khaled al-Jarallah told reporters after talks with his Iraqi counterpart. The deal calls for compensating Iraqi farmers on the border, said Jarallah, adding that the money "had been deposited with the UN." The deal also called for creating a no-man zone on both sides of the border from which people would be banned and no activity allowed.

"Iraq has long borders with five neighboring states, which is why Kuwait is keen on building a security fence to stop any infiltration by terrorists and saboteurs entering or leaving Iraq," said Kuwait Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammad Sabah Al-Sabah on May 05, 2007 after he returned from an international conference on Iraq in the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh.



NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list