Operation Vigilant Warrior
14 Oct-21 Dec 1994
Since Desert Storm, Third Army has responded five times to contingency requirements to deploy, command, control and support major Army forces to deter Iraqi adventurism. Each operation underscored the need for vigilance and quick response and reinforced the value of pre-positioned equipment and limited forward presence in offsetting the strategic time/distance challenges inherent in winning the "race for Kuwait."
As of 31 December 1991 USCENTAF had about 5,000 personnel and 80 aircraft still assigned in the AOR. This number continued to drop during 1992. By the middle of that year, about 3,500 USCENTAF personnel remained in the AOR.
When Iraq began moving ground forces toward Kuwait in October 1994, President Bill Clinton ordered an immediate response. Within days, the new USCENTAF Commander, Lt Gen John Jumper and most of his key staff had deployed to Riyadh, where he took command of JTF-SWA. This operation, called "Vigilant Warrior," also involved the "plus up" of USCENTAF air assets to more than 170 aircraft and 6,500 personnel. Iraq soon recalled its troops and the crisis passed, but the US decided to retain some 120 aircraft and 5,000 personnel in-theatre in case Hussein repeated his bluff. As an additional measure, USCENTAF also agreed to beddown A-10 aircraft in Kuwait itself for the first time.
The US Army has pre-positioned Army War Reserves Set 5 (AWR-5) at Camp Doha, Kuwait, to meet this time/distance challenge. AWR-5 is a full, heavy brigade set of equipment that is ready to fight as fast as troops can be flown into theater. ARCENT-Kuwait is able to issue at least a battalion set of that equipment every 24 hours. The Army routinely exercises that equipment at least twice a year during the INTRINSIC ACTION exercise series with brigade command posts and battalion task forces (TFs) from the 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas, and 24th Infantry Division (ID) (Mechanized) [M], now redesignated the 3d ID(M), Fort Stewart, Georgia. The 4th ID(M), Fort Hood, and the 1st Armored Division, Bad Kreuznach, Germany, also participated.
AWR-5 was a valuable deterrent during VIGILANT WARRIOR from October to December 1994 when the 24th ID(M) fell in on it and trained vigorously and visibly to demonstrate US presence and resolve to Iraq. In October 1994, ARCENT again was called upon to command, control and generate Army forces to deploy to Kuwait during Operation Vigilant Warrior. Operation Vigilant Warrior was initiated in response to Saddam Hussein's "saber rattling" and posturing of a significant Iraqi military force along the Iraqi-Kuwaiti border.
From August to December 1995 during VIGILANT SENTINEL, the 1st Cavalry Division trained with the equipment, showing they are fully prepared to fight alongside our Kuwaiti allies. Well maintained, rapidly issued and versatile, AWR-5 puts a fighting force on the ground swiftly.
AWR-3, PREPO Afloat, consists of a brigade of equipment for four maneuver battalions and a direct support artillery battalion, along with its requisite combat support (CS) and combat service support (CSS) and 30 days of sustainment supplies. During VIGILANT WARRIOR, the 24th ID(M) offloaded, reconfigured and fully exercised the set of equipment, which facilitates a powerful response in a flexible package that can be delivered to any port near any trouble spot within CENTCOM's AOR or to any deep water port in the world.
In September 1995 ARCENT-Qatar was established, and received a battalion set of equipment within four months. By January 1996, in Qatar, Third Army/ARCENT had pre-positioned the first increment of the next brigade set of equipment on the Arabian peninsula. A heavy battalion TF set of equipment was in place and eventually expanded to a full division base set. A Third Army/ARCENT and Army Materiel Command partnership developed the concepts to get this set of equipment rapidly into the fight.
Although the Iraqis have a significant advantage in travel distance, the PREPO concept helps offset it. The CENTCOM commander in chief's (CINC's) goal is to pre-position a division of equipment on the Arabian peninsula. With AWR-5, AWR-3 and Qatar, the Army can muster eight maneuver battalions. With PREPO presence, the Army can win the "race for Kuwait" on day one and prevent a second Desert Storm from ever taking place.
- OPERATION VIGILANT WARRIOR: CONVENTIONAL DETERRENCE THEORY, DOCTRINE, AND PRACTICE W. ERIC HERR School of Advanced Airpower Studies JUNE 1996
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