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Amphibious Forces: The Gulf War (A Study In Quick Response And The Versatility Of Amphibious Forces)

Amphibious Forces: The Gulf War (A Study In Quick Response And The Versatility Of Amphibious Forces)


CSC 1992


SUBJECT AREA Warfighting






Title: Amphibious Forces: The Gulf War (A Study in Quick

Response and the Versatility of Amphibious Forces)


Author: Major Charles M. Herndon, United States Marine Corps


Thesis: Although ground forces were the key to our success

in Southwest Asia, Amphibious Forces were activated,

deployed, and provided a variety of options to the CINC

including quick response to contingencies that require the

flexibility only Amphibious Forces can give.


Background: Since the cessation of hostilities in Southwest

Asia, many articles have been written lauding the

performance of U.S. ground forces during Operation Desert

Shield/Storm. To date there has been no mention of the

contribution of amphibious forces deployed to Southwest Asia

in support of operations in the Persian Gulf. This account,

as seen by one who participated with these forces, is an

endeavor to tell their story, highlight their contributions,

and validate the use of Brigade size amphibious forces in

future contingency operations where the respective combatant

CINC's require capability and flexibility of force to turn

the tide in any given situation.


Recommendation: Marine Corps planners consider the

deployment of Brigade size forces, as the only MAGTF potent

enough, to provide a viable deterrent option to the CINC's

in future regional conflicts.








Thesis: Although ground forces were the key to our

success in Southwest Asia, Amphibious Forces were activated,

deployed, and provided a variety of options to the CINC

including quick response to contingencies that required the

flexibility only Amphibious Forces can give.


I. Activation and Embarkation

A. The Lack of Mission

B. Problems of Task Organization

C. The Lack of Amphibious Lift


II. Transit to the North Arabian Sea

A. Development of Transit Groups

B. Communications

C. Logistics

D. Intelligence Requirements


III. On Station Masirah: The Challenges

A. Helicopter Utilization

B. Force Sustainment

C. Command Relationships

D. Employment Options

E. Integration of the 13th MEU


IV. Reconfiguration of MSC Vessels

A. Port Selection/Utilization

B. Alternative Shipping

C. MPS Utilization

D. The Port Operations Group


V. War Preparation

A. Rehearsals and Landings

B. Integration of 13th MEU and 5th MEB

C. Maritime Interdiction Force Operations


VI. Operation Eastern Exit

A. Warning Order

B. Assignment of CATF/CLF

C. Aviation Operations

D. Successful NEO


VII. The Gulf War

A. ATF Participation

B. Amphibious Firsts

C. Operation Sea Angel


Although ground forces were the key to our success in

Southwest Asia (5:22), Amphibious Forces were activated,

deployed, and provided a variety of options to the CINC

including a quick response to contingencies that required

the flexibility only Amphibious Forces can give. There have

been many articles written in the aftermath of the Gulf War

relative to ground operations. The following account

details how amphibious forces were tasked, organized,

deployed, and employed to carry out the CINC's campaign


During July and August of 1990, the 4th Marine

Expeditionary Brigade prepared for a major deployment and

training exercise in Norway and Denmark known as

Teamwork/Bold Guard 9O. The Brigade's plans pointed to the

upcoming exercise in northern Europe. These plans would

eventually prove to be of utmost importance when the Brigade

would get the word to "move out" in support of operations in

Southwest Asia.

Even with the ongoing planning for the NATO operation,


the Brigade G-2 kept close tabs on the rapidly deteriorating


situation in Liberia which might require the Brigade's


participation in an evacuation of Americans from Monrovia.


This situation coupled with the outbreak of hostilities in


Kuwait kept the Brigade's intelligence personnel up to their


"ears in alligators." Of the two ongoing problem areas, the


Brigade was leaning towards possible involvement in Liberia


by virtue to its close proximity to LANTFLT forces. They


were soon to find out that their focus would change


drastically and their efforts would be redirected,




On 9 August, the Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Atlantic


Command, directed the Brigade, in concert with Amphibious


Group Two, to deploy to the Gulf region as soon as feasible


in support on the Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Central Command


(USCENTCOM).(4:2) With the haste to assign combat power to


the Gulf region, the CATF/CLF were assigned but not with the


amphibious lift required to get the forces there.


Nonetheless, planning between the two staffs led to the


embarkation and deployment of 10,500 Marines and sailors


with their associated equipment and supplies within 12 days


of notification. Such a feat had not been accomplished;


since the dark days of Korea in the summer of 1950.(4:3)


Even with the quick "get-out-of town" plan, the Brigade


deployed without a mission. The open-ended guidance--be


prepared to conduct amphibious landings and sustained


operations ashore--was as close to an Initiating Directive


the Brigade ever received. This guidance forced the staff


to review any and all possible missions, enemy capabilities,


terrain and weather, troops, time, space and logistics


(METT-T-SL) that might impact the Brigade. Major General


Harry W. Jenkins, Jr. as the Commander Landing Force and


Admiral Laplante as the Commander Amphibious Task Force


(1:46) set their staffs to work with direction from CLF


deciding what the Brigade should be tailored to meet.


Priorities of anti-armor weapons, water production


capability, fuel storage capabilities, water and fuel


line-haul, engineer equipment, mobility and counter-mobility


assets, medical, air command and control, anti-air


capabilities, aviation assets, communications, and NBC


clothing and equipment comprised the "shopping list."


While these items were being sourced, II MEF and its


MSC's were assembling the force to go along with the


equipment. Every moment was now critical as the Brigade had


been directed to sail from Norfolk, Virginia, no later than


19 August. The task organization took shape as follows:


GCE, 2d Marines commanded by Col. T.A. Hobbs. ACE, Marine


Aircraft Group-40 commanded by Col. G.F. Burgess. CSSE,


BSSG-4 commanded by Col. J.J. Doyle. To this MAGTF was


added the additional combat power of a company of tanks, two


companies of LAV's, a battalion of artillery, a 20-plane


squadron of AV-8B Harriers, and a squadron of Cobra attack


helicopters. (4:5)


One of the many evolutions ongoing at this time was the


CATF/CLF staff's working feverishly to obtain enough


amphibious lift to move the Brigade. A Brigade of this size


has a lift footprint of 20-23 amphibious ships: the Brigade


was working with only the nine that were authorized to


support Teamwork/Bold Guard 90. After much "arm wrestling"


over ships' maintenance schedules, ships' conditions, and


recent deployments, the CATF/CLF staffs managed to negotiate


four more amphibious ships in support of the ATF. The


number, nine or thirteen, vacillated for four days as the


planning continued. Finally, with considerable efforts by


all concerned, the 13 ship mix was authorized and assigned


to the ATF.


Even with the assignment of the four additional ships,


the Brigade's lift footprint was still significantly larger


than the ships assigned. Work with the Military Sealift


Command (MSC) was at maximum speed to ensure the required


lift could be obtained. On 16 August, the issue culminated


in the assignment of the first MSC vessel in support of the


Brigade. The MV CAPE DOMINGO was the first of five MSC


vessels assigned to support the lift requirement. This


selection would become more and more significant as the


deployment progressed. (4:6)


All of this planning to move the ATF was not done in a


vacuum however. Due to the size of the ATF, the loading at


Norfolk and Morehead City, North Carolina, (MHC) had to be


staggered so as not to overcrowd the ports by the numbers of


personnel and equipment to be loaded. This plan worked well


with the first five "grey-bottom" gators departing MHC on 17


August; the second transit group departing on the 20th; and


the third transit group departing on the 21st. The five MSC


vessels assigned in support of the Brigade were loaded from


two weeks to one month after the Brigade's departure. This


schedule made knowing exactly what was loaded and how it was


loaded nearly impossible, even with the excellent assistance


provided by the Strategic Mobility section from Fleet Marine


Force, Atlantic. Even though a portion of the Brigade's


Assault Echelon (AE) and its Assault Follow-On Echelon


(AFOE) were loaded on "black-bottoms" and the ATF ships were


not optimally loaded, the ATF sailed with a full capability


to conduct an assault in accordance with its mission


guidance. (4:9) This evolution prompted the CLF to spend


much of his first three months at sea, devoting much of his


concern to how the Brigade was deployed, and forcing him to


dedicate as much as 75 percent of his time to logistics


issues. (4:11)


Development of the transit groups presented problems in


itself. With the physical separation of the three groups


and the CLF from his commanders, the CG decided to split the


Command Element into an "Alpha" and "Bravo" group so that


planning could continue with the maximum effectiveness.


This separation turned out to be a blessing in disguise as


radio communications became almost non-existent and message


traffic routed through the Naval Communications Area Master


Station (NAVCAMS) became so back logged with messages that


NAVCAMS Mediterranean was 20,000 messages in arrears by 2


September. The breakdown in the communications network and


the lack of face-to-face communication between commanders


caused by the two to three-day steaming separation between


the transit groups forced the Brigade CommO to some drastic




The communication problem was addressed in two ways.


The first was the use of the World-Wide Military Command and


Control System (WWMCCS) terminal installed on the USS NASSAU


to provide communications to CONUS and to the theater of


operation. The second was to establish a command


communication channel over which the CG could communicate


with his commanders. When this channel was established,


communications between elements of the MAGTF could be


conducted in the evening hours with the other transit




Although this effort to communicate helped, it by no


means eliminated the problem. The two areas hardest hit by


the lack of continuous communication were the personnel and


logistics sections of the Brigade. Accurate personnel


counts from the separated units became more and more


difficult to sort. The G-1 could not provide accurate


accountability, either by unit or ship, nor could he


transmit with any regularity notifications of deaths, births


or emergency as they were received. This problem was not


solved until the Brigade rendezvoused in the North Arabian




The problem of logistics was far greater than that of


personnel. The MAGTF was embarked, but the requisite data


required to evaluate its full capabilities was being lost in


the communication system. The logisticians understood at


the time of embarkation that the Brigade would be capable of


a full-scale amphibious assault upon arrival in the AO based


on the loads aboard and the information available at the


time of embarkation. However, they also understood that as


the transit groups pushed east additional missions were


being developed and that the ATF would most likely have to


be reconfigured to support them once the ATF reached their


destination in the North Arabian Sea. The "kicker" was that


the logisticians also understood the importance of the five


MSC vessels sailing with the remainder of the AE and the


AFOE. Information obtained from Embarked Personnel and


Material Reports (EPMR) gleaned from WWMCCS indicated that


the vessels assigned were not self-sustaining ships. This


inability to download ATF equipment in-stream would hamper


the flexibility inherent to amphibious forces. A


reconfiguration would have to be planned and conducted soon


after arrival on station. This evolution would not take


place until several weeks after the ATF arrived in the North


Arabia Sea on 16 September 1990.


With all going so negatively, a bright spot


existed. The normally small cadre of G-2 personnel assigned


to the Brigade had been augmented by a contingent from the


newly established 2d Surveillance, Reconnaissance, and


Intelligence Group (SRIG) from Camp Lejeune.(4:14) Composed


of The MAGTF All-Source Fusion Center(MAFC) detachment,


imagery interpreters, interrogator-translator and


topographic detachments, this unit manned the Joint


Intelligence Center with the Navy, providing both CATF/CLF


staffs with an intelligence production center for the ATF.


Conducting all-source fusion of collections efforts and


target intelligence, this combination would mark the first


time that a MAFC had been deployed afloat in support of


contingency operations. (4:14-15)


With this as a start, the Brigade Marines had


thoroughly settled into ship-board life and even through the


daily training evolutions, they were beginning to see places


and parts of the world many of them never thought they would


see: the Straits of Gibraltar, the Suez Canal with its vast


Sinai peninsula and abandoned Israeli watch towers; the Red


Sea and movement through the Bab El Mandeb that separates


Yemen and Djibouti.(4:15) Finally, on 16 September after


the transit of the Gulf of Aden, the ATF took up its


position off the tiny Masirah Island in the North Arabian


Sea, a place that would become home to the ATF for the next


eight-and-one-half months.


At last, the transit groups could come together as a


complete ATF once off the island of Masirah. In modified


locations (MODLOC), the ATF reported opcon to COMUSNAVCENT


for operations. The time had come for detailed planning and


the major challenges of force sustainment, component


relationships, employment options, intelligence support, and


the biggest challenge of all: helicopter utilization.


As had been the concern of the ATF throughout the


transit, logistics and sustainment of the force became of


paramount concern. Masirah Island, the site of past small


scale training evolutions, had an airhead that could serve


as the through-put hub for the ATF. Military Airlift


Command (MSC) established the pipeline and COMUSNAVCENT


worked out the details of airhead utilization with the Royal


Air Force of Oman. The problem was the lack of the Navy


Combat Logistic Force (CLF) ships and their organic


helicopter support to work the airhead. With force


sustainment the top priority, Marine helicopters took on the


mission of providing repair parts, mail, cargo, and fresh


fruit and vegetables to the ATF. MAG-40 and Navy aviation


planners (TACRON-22) came to a deadlock on the utilization


and employment of the helicopter assets. The navy planners


committed helicopters without regard to their efficient


utilization and the combat training requirements


yet to be met. Eventually, the planners agreed to the use


of a consolidated air tasking order (ATO).(4:17) This effort


allowed for the support of the ATF and provided centralized


control of the helicopter assets so as to maximize training


of air crews and pilots.


With the air tasking system in place, sustainment of


the force became an all consuming task. Navy and Marine


planners calculated the requirement for at least three CLF


ships to support the ATF. This requirement would allow for


movement of the ships on and off station to provide fuel,


passengers, mail and cargo (PMC) throughout the force. Only


two were provided, which put the "monkey" square on the back


of the ATF. To provide the needed support, the ATF would


have to provide at least one dedicated ship to work the


airhead in conjunction with the CLF ships assigned. With a


consolidation day, airhead operations day, and a


distribution day, the ATF dedicated six out of every seven


days to consolidating, receiving, and distributing


sustainment to the force. This effort was to severely


impact the rehearsal and exercise schedule of the landing


force, as almost always at least one ship had one or more


units missing during rehearsals.


While trying to sustain itself, the ATF was also


working on the command relationships that would be required


to function in the AO. The Brigade on arrival in the AO had


reported to CINCCENT who then passed the force to


COMUSNAVCENT, the naval component commander. The Brigade


was retained in this command relationship throughout its


time in Southwest Asia. At no time was the Brigade, Landing


Force, or the ATF under the OPCON of COMUSMARCENT, even;


though much of the contingency planning was done in support


of MARCENT requirements.(4:19)


MARCENT requirements drove the Brigade staff to look at


any and all possible missions that could be tasked in


support of ground operations. Their work produced the


following employment options:


OPTION 1: MEB level surface-heavy assault with


helicopterborne forces used to reinforce and expand the


beachhead. The 13th MEU (SOC) was now on station and was


integrated into the Brigade planning in order to maintain


their unique capabilities and training.


OPTION 2: MEB level combination surface and


helicopterborne assault with the same mix as Option 1. This


option would be used if the AAA/SAM threat was such as to


let the helo forces go deep inland to conduct a link-up.


OPTION 3: MEB level surface/helicopterborne assault


with 13th MEU as an advance force and then revert to the


landing force reserve.(4:20)


OPTION 4: MEB level heavy raid with two BLT's landing


by helo and surface means. The 13th MEU would be retained


separately for possible supporting mission. (4:20)


OPTION 5: MEB level raid with one BLT reinforced and


a GCE command group landing by helo.(4:21)


OPTION 6: MEB level raid with BLT reinforced with


mechanized assets (LAI and AAV) and a command group from the


GCE. The 13th MEU would be retained for an independent


mission. (4:21)


OPTION 7: MEU level raid reinforced with one


battalion. Landing by helicopter and surface means would be


controlled by the MEU.(4:21)


OPTION 8: MEB level artillery raids supported by both


MEB and MEU assets.(4:21)


OPTION 9: MEU level raids. This option encompassed


the standard 18 MEU (SOC) missions.(4:21)


OPTION 10: MEB level airfield take-down by helicopter


and surface means. MEU would be retained as a separate


entity for this option. (4:21)


These missions once forwarded to COMUSNAVCENT indicated


very clearly that the amphibious force was capable of either


tactical or strategic missions. This capability would not


have been possible without the integration of the 13th MEU


(SOC). The CLF's decision to integrate and not "composite"


the MEU added greatly to the capability of the force as a


whole and allowed for the prudent use of the MEU (SOC)


inherent with its training and capabilities.


While the development of employment options was being


considered, the logisticians were busy doing port surveys in


the area to ascertain their capabilities and limitations.


The five MSC vessels still had to be down loaded and


reconfigured to support the ATF. Additionally, an effort


had to be made to obtain self-sustaining ships that could be


utilized for in-stream down load should an amphibious


mission have to be executed. Both COMUSNAVCENT and Commander,


Military Sealift Command, Southwest Asia (COMSCSWA)


contributed greatly in helping to solve these two problems.


In early October, all five MSC vessels arrived in the North


Arabian Sea. COMSCSWA returned two MPF vessels, the MV


BONNEYMEN and MV BAUGH, from the common-user lift pool, and


designated them as withhold ships in support of the ATF. By


9 October, the port of Al Jubayl, Saudi Arabia was obtained


for the reconfiguration project.(4:25) From October 13


through December 5, the Port Operations Group (POG), made up


of 397 Marines and sailors, down loaded the five MSC


vessels, conducted inventories, reconfigured the equipment


and supplies to support the ATF. The MV BONNEYMAN loaded


with sustainment became the ATF's "floating warehouse." The


MV BAUGH was loaded tactically, with equipment of the AE


needed for the assault and the required lighterage to


transport that equipment from ship-to-shore. During this


period the drivers, engineers, landing support, material


handling, ammunition techs, military police, food service


and medical personnel turned over 90 percent of the ATF's


fortification material to I MEF, reworked some 124


containers of ammunition, and 748 containers of supplies,


and embarked all of this material aboard the two MPF


vessels.(4:29) These POG personnel had done what many had


thought impossible in the time allotted. They reconfigured


these ships in record time, back loaded the two MPF vessels


and turned the port over to First FSSG personnel in just


short of six weeks. The most important result was the


Brigade now had the ability to augment the amphibious


capabilities of the Navy by allowing the in-stream discharge


capability of the MPF vessels to be utilized. This


Herculean effort should be remembered as one of many


logistical feats accomplished during the Gulf war.


Time did not stand still while the POG and ATF planners


were performing so well. The current operations folks were


busy planning a series of rehearsals and exercises that


would test the employment options that the future plans


folks were putting together. These plans resulted in the


SEA SOLDIER series of exercises conducted in southern Oman,


off Madrakah, that would acclimatize the units, test and


hone their skills in the desert, and make them ready for


what everyone knew was the inevitable. SEAS SOLDIER's I-IV


were conducted from September through January with a show of


force exercise in the Gulf (IMMINENT THUNDER) in mid


November that put a total of 15,500 Marines and 2600


principal end-items of equipment ashore in a four month


period.(4:33-44) This effort had transformed a hastily


loaded, rough-edged unit into one fully prepared and ready


for war. Their readiness forged in the desert of Oman


prepared this task force for things to come.


This readiness did not come easy. The integration of


the 13th MEU (SOC) and the 5th MEB during this time was a


major accomplishment. Their understanding of the situation


and their willingness to work with all involved epitomizes


the MARINE philosophy. Throughout the rehearsal and


training evolutions, these units were integrated as a full


and contributing entity of the task force. Their


contributions to the accomplishment of the overall missions


assigned to the ATF can not be overstated. These


contributions were to prove valuable as time progressed, and


the ATF provided the flexibility the CINC required in


support of operations in and out of the Gulf.


One of those tasks that was to present itself was that


of Maritime Interdiction Force operations being conducted by


the Allied Navies patrolling the North Arabian Sea and the


Gulf. When United Nations' sanctions had been levied, the


maritime forces were charged with enforcing the sanctions


and the consequent embargoes. As ships carrying contraband


to Iraq continued to press their way to the Gulf region,


resistance to the boarding process increased. As a result


of this resistance, COMUSNAVCENT, put out the call for the


ATF to muster a Helicopter MIF capability (HMIF). This


mission fell within the preview of the training and


capabilities of the 13th MEU (SOC). Their first target was


the Iraqi merchant vessel AL MULTANABBI to be hailed and


boarded for search on 13 October. On 22 October, 13th MEU


boarded the Iraqi merchant vessel AL BAHAR AL ARAB, and on


28 October boarded the Iraqi tanker AMURIYAH. In all cases,


the 13th MEU proved the special operations capability of our


MEU forces is viable and vital to operations in a maritime


environment. Their training, sound judgment, and judicious


use of minimal force ensured the success of these boarding


operations.(4:44) Because 13th MEU was scheduled to depart


the AO in November, the HMIF mission had to be assumed by


units of the 4th MEB to continue to provide this capability


to the CINC. The exchange of "play books" and the training


began immediately. This effort proved to be the consistent


thread throughout the process. Units of the MEB studied,


trained, and conducted a boarding of the Iraqi merchant


vessel IBN KHALDOON on 26 December 1990. This vessel billed


as a "peace ship" loaded with milk and medicine and crowded


with women peace activists, proved to be one of the most


highly visible boardings conducted by HMIF forces. Although


highly visible, the boarding was conducted without a "hitch"


as contraband was identified and clearance was sought to put


the ship into port in Oman to prevent its cargo from


arriving in Iraq. On 30 December the HMIF forces of the 4th


MEB conducted another boarding of the Iraqi tanker AIN


ZALLAH. This ship was boarded, inspected and allowed to


proceed as no contraband was found. Throughout this process


of training and conducting intercepts and searches, HMIF


operations was under close observation and scrutiny by both


higher authorities and world opinion. Of all who


participated in these operations, COMUSNAVCENT praised their


efforts and success. The efforts insured the continued


success of the U.N. embargo. (4:47)


On 2 January 1991, as preparations for a full scale


conflict in the Gulf loomed in the future, the Secretary of


State requested the President order an emergency evacuation


of the U.S. Ambassador and his staff from the American


Embassy in Mogadishu, Somalia. "EASTERN EXIT" was to take


form and take form quickly. The CG and the Admiral wasted


no time in designating CATF and CLF in what was to become a


Special Purpose MAGTF. Col. J.J. Doyle, aboard the USS


TRENTON, and Capt. A.B. Moser, aboard the USS GUAM (Capt.


Moser was recalled from a port visit with PHIBRON-6 in


Dubai), were named CATF and CLF, respectively. The two


ships assigned in support of the operation (TRENTON/GUAM)


possessed the requisite infantry, CSS, and helicopter


support to make the 1600 mile trek to Somalia. On 3


January, COMUSNAVCENT took OPCON of the SPMAGTF, and their


staffs began to plan and calculate the requirements for the


Non-Combatant Evacuation Operation (NEO). This work determined the


requirement for multiple refuelings for two CH-53


helicopters to launch and get the initial elements of the


NEO force to Somalia. The launch distance was to be 466


miles out, using dead-reckoning link-up, and flying in night


vision goggles under the cover of darkness. Once the ships


were close enough, the rest of the NEO force could be landed


by CH-46 to assist in the removal of the civilians and


diplomats. The Commander of the NEO force, LtCol. W. D.


Oates, once entering the embassy compound and preparing for


the evacuation, said it seemed "Everybody in town. . .came by


and took shots at us."(2:A2) Even though there were tense


moments throughout this operation, it was conducted


flawlessly. In the end, one of the most dramatic rescues


ever conducted insured the safety of 282 evacuees, including


a baby boy born during the five-day ship transit to Muscat,


Oman. The 31 countries represented by various diplomats


seeking refuge included; the Soviet Union, Kenya, Great


Britain, U.A.E., Germany, and the United States, just to


mention a few. The embassy that housed these people and the


vault in which they were to hide if their rescuers did not


arrive, were destroyed by rocket-propelled grenades shortly


after their departure.(3:A21) For the nearly 3000 Marines


and sailors participating in this daring rescue, this


operation was a perfect example of the capabilities inherent


in amphibious forces and the Navy-Marine Corps team. (4:51)


The preparations for war continued throughout January


with the early focus on the air war. Refinement of the 10


employment options was constant as elements of the ATF honed


their skills in preparation for what all thought was an


inevitable amphibious landing. Raid packages on AUHAH


ISLAND and FAYLAKA ISLAND were formulated and briefed to all


concerned. Main landings into Kuwait were refined and as


the time for the ground war approached, the ATF began to


focus on a strip of beach in Kuwait known as ASH SHUAYBAH.


Additional feint/raid packages were constructed and briefed


for BUBIYAN and the AL FAW peninsula. Intelligence reports


indicated that the mine threat at ASH SHUAYBAH was worse


than expected and that MCM operations would require six days


of MCM efforts in support of ASH SHUAYBAH to attain 80


percent clearance. Additionally, MCM operations in support


of the FAYLAKA raid would have to be just as extensive to


attain 60 percent clearance. The time line was becoming


compressed as the target dates for the raid was 19 or 20


February. With the mine strike of the USS TRIPOLI and USS


PRINCETON, MCM became overcome by events and reduced scope


raid and feint packages were created through an intense


rapid planning effort in support of operations ashore. The


outbreak of the ground war on 24 February changed the focus


even more with a series of feints against BUBIYAN/AL FAW,


FAYLAKA, and ASH SHUAYBAH. From 25-26 February, these


operations were conducted in support of the Ground


forces.(4:65) Combat operations for the ATF continued with


the first ever combat missions of the AV-8B aircraft flown


from an amphibious platform beginning on 2O February and


continuing until hostilities ended on 28 February. During


this period, a total of 242 sorties flew with an accumulated


flight time of 269 hours flown against enemy targets and


positions. On 26 February, an impressive total of 56 combat


sorties were flown by the pilots of VMA-331.(4:68) Only


superb coordination between air crews, ordnance handlers and


flight deck personnel of VMA-331, and the USS NASSAU made it


possible for naval aviation to shine. Their effort were


exemplary. With the cessation of hostilities, the largest


amphibious task force assembled in over 40 years was ready


to stand down and head for home. As 4th MEB steamed through


the RED SEA, planning for an additional NEO in Ethiopia was


on going. This operation never materialized. The 13th MEU


(SOC) provided additional security for sea-lines of


communication and MIF operations upon war termination. With


war termination, life started to take on a normal, business


as usual air about it.


Just when one thinks normality has returned, another


mission comes along. While in transit for home, 5th MEB was


called upon to provide disaster relief for the citizens of


Bangladesh. Ravaged by a fierce cyclone, some 150,000


people in Bangladesh were killed and hundreds of thousands


left homeless. Operation SEA ANGEL was in full swing with


5th MEB providing emergency and mid-term relief assistance


to those left homeless. Providing, over a nine day period,


nearly 7,000 pounds of relief supplies, the 5th MEB proved


once again the value of amphibious forces.(7:89)


Responding quickly, deploying in record time, preparing


for the worse possible scenario, yet capable of


accomplishing even the most tender missions, amphibious


forces render the flexibility and forward presence every


CINC needs as well as the capability that our allies have


grown to expect. Regardless of proposed reductions, Marines


stand ready to respond to any crisis in the future, just as


they did during the Gulf conflict. Capable, flexible, and


dedicated to any contingency mission assigned, amphibious


forward presence can give the various CINC's the "card up


his sleeve" to make the difference in any situation.





1. Corporale, Louis, G. "Marine Corps Historical Notes

From The Gulf War, "The Marine Corps Gazette December

1991: 44-46


2. Dorsey, Jack. "A risky but unnoticed rescue; Gulf War

eclipsed escape from Somalia," The Virqinian Pilot And Ledqer

Star 18 January 1992: A1-A2.


3. Gellman, Barton. "Amid Winds of War, Daring U.S. Rescue

Got Little Notice." The Washinqton Post 5 January 1992: A21.


4. Gulf Deployment, Fourth Marine Expeditionary Brigade

After Action Report Published by 4th MEB June 1991.


5. Krulak, Charles, C. BGEN. "CSS in The Desert," The

Marine Corps Gazette October 1991: 22-25.


6. Munday, Jr., Carl, E., GEN. "Naval Expeditionary Forces

and Power Projection, Into the 21st Century," The Marine Corps

Gazette January 1992: 14-17.


7. Selvage, Donald, R. COL. "Operation Sea Angel:

Bangladesh Disaster Relief," The Marine Corps Gazette

November 1991: 89-97.

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