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VII Corps

Headquarters and Headquarters Company, VII Corps, was organized on 19 August 1918 at Remiremont, France, and served in World War I. By the end of 1992, V Corps was the only remaining corps in Germany, after VII Corps inactivated.

VII Corps participated in five campaigns during World War II. The assault and landing at Utah Beach, Normandy, 6 June 1944, spearheaded the American landings on the Normandy beaches. The four other subsequent campaigns were Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe.

First Army's plan to break out of the lodgment area was Operation COBRA, a 25 July attack by VII and XIX Corps that shattered the German defenses at the town of St. Lo and passed infantry and armored columns through the gap and out of the Brittany peninsula. Once clear of the Bocage country, the spearheads turned east toward Paris, rapidly encircling portions of two German armies in what became known as the Falaise-Argentan pocket. Later, as part of the First Army attack into the Siegfried Line and Huertgen Forest, attacks began on 14 September 1944. Gen. Hodges, the First Army Commander, directed V Corps to protect the flank of VII Corps, which was leading the First Army attack into Germany. Worse fighting was yet to come, as First Army directed V Corps to support the VII Corps attack deeper in the Huertgen Forest. With the capture of the Roer dams, the way was open for VII Corps to move on into Germany and for the First Army to close on the Rhine.

During the Korean War, Fort A.P. Hill was a major staging area for units deploying to Europe, including the VII Corps Headquarters and the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment.

When Seventh Army was reduced to token representation, V and VII corps became separate commands subordinate to USAREUR. To operate independently, each required a corps support command. The second and third support brigades were assigned to V and VII corps, respectively, and became COSCOMs.

In November,1990, U.S. Army, Europe, sent VII Corps to Saudi Arabia to take part in Operation DESERT SHIELD and, later, in Operation DESERT STORM. V Corps immediately received orders to send the 12th Aviation Brigade to Southwest Asia, and then took on the mission of helping VII Corps deploy out of Germany. Victory Corps also sent its 3rd Armored Division and some battalions from the 8th Infantry Division along with VII Corps, because the Spearhead Division was well advanced in its modernization process and was largely equipped with Bradley Fighting Vehicles. The corps then provided additional equipment and ammunition to VII Corps and took over control of those VII Corps troops that did not go to Saudi Arabia. Units across the corps gave up people and equipment to get the deploying units up to 100 percent strength.

The VII Corps, under LTG Frederick Franks Jr., was deployed to the right of XVIII Airborne Corps and consisted of the 1st Infantry Division, 1st and 3rd Armored divisions, the British 1st Armd. Div., the U.S. 2nd Armd. Cav. Regiment and the U.S. 11th Aviation Brigade.

During Operation Desert Storm. the VII Corps' mission was to attack to penetrate and envelop Iraqi defenses to destroy the Republican Guard forces in zone. After the attack. the VII Corps was to prepare to defend the Northern Kuwait border to prevent the Iraqis from reseizing Kuwait.

The corps' major combat elements were four armored divisions. one mechanized division. an armored cavalry regiment, the corps aviation brigade, and four field artillery brigades employing 145,000 soldiers.

The overall corps plan was drawn up in six phases:

Phase 1. Movement from the ports to tactical assembly areas (TAA). Some VII Corps convoys traveled more than 500 kilometers.

Phase 2. Movement from TAAs to forward assembly areas (FAA) and zones. To enhance the deception that the central command's (CENTCOM's) attack would occur in the east. VII Corps delayed the movement of the corps until only days before the attack. The corps rehearsed its LD/LC formation as it moved into zone. Distances for corps units ranged from 60 to 160 kilometers. This phase included demonstrations and feints. such as the 1st Cavalry Division's operations at Wadi Al Batin.

Phase 3. Penetration and envelopment of forward defenses. The 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized) (ID(M)) conducted a deliberate breach of the Iraqi defenses west of Wadi Al Batin while the 2d ACR. 1st Armored Division. and 3d Armored Division bypassed enemy positions to the west.

Phase 4. Defeat of the enemy's tactical reserves. The 1st United Kingdom (UK) Armored Division passed through the 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized) and attacked to defeat enemy armored reserves behind Iraqi forward defenses.

Phase 5. Destruction of the Republican Guard.

Phase 6. Defense of Northern Kuwait.

The VII Corps had the mission of finding, attacking, and destroying the heart of President Saddam Hussein's ground forces, the armor-heavy Republican Guard divisions. In preparation for that, Central Command had built up General Franks' organization until it resembled a mini-army more than a traditional corps. The "Jayhawk" corps of World War 11 fame had a 3d Infantry Division (Mechanized) brigade attached to the 1st Armored Division and four field artillery brigades, the 42d, 75th, 142d, and 210th. To make deep attacks, to ferry infantry units into trouble spots, and to help armor crews kill tanks, the corps also had the 11th Aviation Brigade. Franks' command numbered more than 142,000 soldiers, compared with Luck's 116,000. To keep his troops moving and fighting, Franks used more than 48,500 vehicles and aircraft, including 1,587 tanks, 1,502 Bradleys and armored personnel carriers, 669 artillery pieces, and 223 attack helicopters. For every day of offensive operations, the corps needed 5.6 million gallons of fuel, 3.3 million gallons of water, and 6,075 tons of ammunition.

On 23 February 1991. the 2d ACR bypassed Iraqi defenses to the west and crossed into Iraq in preparation for the corps attack. Attack helicopter-64 and artillery raids intensified in the corps zone. Early on 24 February, the 1st ID(M) penetrated the Iraqi defenses east of the 2d ACR while the regiment pushed 30 kilometers to the north. With increasing evidence of success against the Iraqis, the CINC of CENTCOM accelerated the attack schedule. The VII Corps would attack by 1500 that day. The 1st and 3d Armored Divisions would follow the zone cleared by the 2d ACR while the 1st ID(M) conducted a deliberate breach of the Iraqi defenses. VII Corps won one of the most lopsided victories in history.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:37:50 ZULU