3rd Armored Division "Salahuddin"
The air campaign's effect was telling. According to selected EPW reports, in some divisions, up to half the personnel who had deployed to the KTO deserted. Selected senior officer EPW described very high (roughly 77 percent) attrition rates for tanks or wheeled vehicles in particular units. Not all units suffered attrition rates as high as this. For example, senior EPWs from other Iraqi units, such as the 50th Armored Brigade, 12th Armored Division, and the 8th Mechanized Brigade, 3rd Armored Division, reported lower attrition rates.
During the night of 29 and 30 January 1991, Iraqi armored and mechanized infantry forces began several battalion-sized attacks against Coalition ground forces. The eastern most Iraqi force occupied the Saudi Arabian border town of Al-Khafji. The Iraqi forces were from the 5th Mechanized and the 3rd Armored divisions of the regular army, equipped with several hundred tanks and other armored vehicles, but they had no air support. The combination of dogged resistance by the ground forces and the constant pounding from Coalition air forces stopped the Iraqi advance.
When the ground offensive started on 24 February 1991, Iraqi ground forces remained in defensive positions in the KTO. There were no indications of any Iraqi troop withdrawal. The Iraqi III Corps, opposite I MEF and Joint Forces Command - East [JFC-E] still could counterattack with units from the 3rd Armored Division south of Kuwait International Airport. However, for the Iraqis to stop the Coalition ground offensive, mobile forces would have to leave their reverted positions, making them vulnerable to Coalition air attack.
By 24 February 1991 Iraqi regular army units constituting the second echelon in Kuwait were directed to reposition themselves. Concealed by the dense smoke of the oil fires that were ignited beginning 21 February, parts of what was left of the second echelon of the Iraqi army -- 1st Mechanized Infantry Division, 3d Armored Division, 5th Mechanized Infantry Division, 6th Armored Division, the 10th Armored Division and the 12th Armored Division -- were in a movement toward Basrah.
As the ground offensive progressed, by 25 February 1991 Iraqi units' ineffectiveness became more clear. The Iraqi 3rd Armored Division was trying to hold blocking positions between Kuwait International Airfield and Al-Jahra.
During the Gulf War, the US 2d Armored Division's Tiger Brigade advance split the seam between the Iraqi III and IV Corps, overrunning elements of the Iraqi 14th, 7th, and 36th Infantry Divisions, as well as brigades of the Iraqi 3d Armored, 1st Mechanized, and 2d Infantry Divisions. During four days of combat Tiger Brigade task forces destroyed or captured 181 tanks, 148 armored personnel carriers, 40 artillery pieces, and 27 antiaircraft systems while killing an estimated 263 enemy and capturing 4,051 prisoners of war, all at a cost of 2 killed and 5 wounded.
On 25 February 1991, the American I MEF advanced against the fiercest resistance it encountered during the ground offensive. In the American 2nd MARDIV sector, an Iraqi armored counterattack was repulsed by the 6th Marine Regiment using a combination of CAS, artillery, tanks, and TOW missiles. Attacked by aircraft as they formed for the attack south of Kuwait City, the Iraqis were reduced to less than brigade strength by the time they actually attacked the regiment. Attacking on schedule, the 2nd MARDIV, with the Tiger Brigade on the left, 6th Marines in the center, and 8th Marines on the right, advanced against elements of the Iraqi 3rd Armored Division and 1st Mechanized Division that had assumed defensive positions on the high ground to the north and northwest and in an area of buildings and fences known as the "ice-cube tray". Weather combined with intense smog from burning oil wells reduced visibility to a few yards. Fighting in near darkness, Marine M1s of the 2nd Tank Battalion (supporting the 8th Marines) and the Tiger Brigade, equipped with the M1A1 and enhanced optics, proved particularly successful at engaging armor at long ranges. Other Marine tank crews, in M60A1 tanks, relied on crew skill to outfight the enemy. In the "ice-cube tray", tanks and infantry cleared buildings and trenches at close ranges in the darkness, finally securing the area after 2200 against stiff resistance.
On 26 February 1991 the American 2nd MARDIV reached Al-Jahra, overcoming the Iraqi rear guard dug in south of the city in quarries and dumps. The 6th Marines advanced into the quarry area, encountering stiff resistance from elements of the Iraqi 3rd Armored and 5th Mechanized divisions, some equipped with T-72 tanks. Elaborate bunkers were uncovered that housed brigade CPs, complete with kitchens and classrooms. 1st Battalion, 6th Marines advanced to the outskirts of Al-Jahra, the first Marine unit to reach Kuwait City. Relatively few prisoners were taken since the Iraqi rearguard chose to fight rather than surrender.
In May 1997 the Iraqi regime began massing troops in the area of Kifri which is controlled by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. Tanks of the Qadissiya armored battalion and the Qutaiba armored battalion (of the 12th Brigade of the 3rd Armored Division "Salahuddin Command" of the II Corps) moved from Jaloula (80 km NE of Baghdad) to the district of Jabara and Syed Madri near Kifri in the liberated area of northern Iraq. The 12th Brigade was commanded by Brigadier Khalaf Aziz. This movement occurred on 08 May 1997. Two battalions of the 8th Mechanised Brigade (of the 3rd Division of the II Corps) moved from Suleiman Beg and Gangarian (90 km NE of Baghdad) to the area. The 8th Mechanised Brigade was commanded by Colonel Saad Jumah Thiab. This movement occurred on 08 May 1997. Two infantry battalions of the 6th Brigade (of the 3rd Division of the II Corps) moved from Khanaquin to this area on 07 May 1997. The 6th Brigade was commanded by Brigadier Sabah.
On 27 August 1997 about 80 tanks and APCs of the Salahadin Forces of the Iraqi army moved to the front-line at Tuz Khurmatu and Qadir Karam (facing Sulaymania).
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|