National Guard in Desert Storm
On August 2, 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait. Saudi Arabia asked for immediate military support to prevent further aggression from Iraqi troops into the sovereign nation of Saudi Arabia. On August 8, the 82nd Airborne Division began movement to the Middle East as directed by President Bush. Air National Guard volunteers immediately began transporting troops and equipment to Southwest Asia.
The mobilization of the National Guard affected units in 51 of the 54 states and territories, including Washington. The Army National Guard mobilized more than 398 units nationwide.
In this first real test of the Total Force Policy, Army Guard units were on active duty a little more than two weeks after Operation Desert Shield began. A majority of the U.S. Army's combat service support units were now located in the reserve components, and the majority of the first Army Guard units to be mobilized were transportation, quartermaster, and military police units. Later, two field artillery brigades arrived in the theater, and three "Roundout" brigades were mobilized but not deployed.
Army Guard units were still arriving in the Persian Gulf in January 1991 as the offensive against Iraq, Desert Storm, was launched by the Allied air forces. In all, 62,411 Army National Guard personnel were in active federal service, 37,848 of them in Southwest Asia. Women made up 10% of the total.
The Army activated five ARNG combat brigades and one Special Forces group. Three of these brigades were maneuver and two were field artillery. The 48th Mechanized Infantry Brigade, Georgia Army National Guard, received the alert notification on 15 November 1990, and entered federal active duty on 30 November 1990. It mobilized at Fort Stewart, trained and was validated at the National Training Center (NTC). The 155th Armor Brigade, Mississippi Army National Guard, received the alert notification on 15 November 1990, and entered federal active duty on 7 December 1990. It mobilized at Camp Shelby, trained at Fort Hood, and completed a brigade rotation at the NTC. The 256th Mechanized Infantry Brigade, Louisiana Army National Guard, received the alert notification on 15 November 1991,and entered federal active duty on 30 November 1990. It mobilized at Fort Polk, trained at Fort Hood, and was demobilized prior to an NTC rotation.
The 142d Field Artillery Brigade, Arkansas Army National Guard, with a battalion from Oklahoma, received the alert notification on 15 November 1990, and entered federal active duty on 21 November 1990. The 142d mobilized, trained, and was validated at Fort Sill. The Brigade deployed to Saudi Arabia on 15 January 1991, was attached to the VII Corps, supported the 1st Infantry Division during breaching operations, and supported the 1st United Kingdom Armoured Division during the ground campaign. The 196th Field Artillery Brigade, Tennessee Army National Guard, organized with battalions from Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia, received the alert notification on 3 December 1990, and entered federal active duty on 9 December 1990. The 196th mobilized, trained, and was validated at Fort Campbell. The Brigade deployed to Saudi Arabia on 17 January 1991, was attached to the XVIII Airborne Corps, supported the 6th French Light Armored Division during breaching operations, and the 24th Mechanized Infantry during the ground campaign.
On February 23, 1991, the coalition forces launched their ground offensive. Air and Army National Guard units, fully integrated into the coalition forces, supported the plan of action. The Oklahoma Army National Guard was one of the many Guard units assigned to support the advance into Iraq. Armed with the Multiple-Launch Rocket System, the Field Artillery men of this battalion provided accurate and devastating fire throughout the entire campaign. The rockets were so deadly, the Iraqi soldiers called them "steel rain."
The campaign's successful conclusion did not end the work of the Army National Guard units in the theater. Army Guard maintenance units engaged in battlefield recovery of coalition and Iraqi equipment. Medical units continued their work with allied and Iraqi sick and wounded. Many units and individual Guard members initiated civic action work with Kuwaiti and Iraqi civilians. America's pride in her National Guard members was shown by the many parades and celebrations upon the return of units from Saudi Arabia.
General Cohn Powell, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said on December 3,1990, "The success of the Guard... participation in Desert Shield cannot be overemphasized." General Frederick M. Franks, Jr., former Commander, VII Corps, told National Guard senior commanders on April 3,1992, "You saved the battle."
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