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26th Infantry Division

As the ground offensive progressed, by 25 February 1991 Iraqi units' ineffectiveness became more clear. By the end of G + 1, five Iraqi VII Corps infantry divisions, one in US VII Corps zone in the tri-border area, were in jeopardy of being isolated on the front lines. From west to east in front of the Iraqi VII Corps, the 48th, 25th, 26th, 31st, and 45th Infantry divisions were engaged by American VII Corps armored and mechanized infantry divisions and rendered combat ineffective. By the end of G + 1, the Iraqi forward corps were assessed as combat ineffective - no longer capable of conducting a coherent defense in sector.

In the early morning darkness of 25 February 1991, General McCaffrey put his 24th Division in motion toward its first major objective. To the surprise of all, the 24th Division took three major objectives and hundreds of men in only nineteen hours while meeting weak resistance from isolated pockets of Iraqi soldiers from the 26th and 35th Infantry Divisions. By the end of the day XVIII Airborne Corps had advanced in all division sectors to take important objectives, establish a functioning forward operating base, place brigade size blocking forces in the Euphrates River valley, and capture thousands of prisoners of war-at a cost of two killed in action and two missing. The American 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) had taken three major objectives and hundreds of prisoners against weak resistance from the Iraqi 26th and 35th Infantry divisions.

The American 1st Armored Division and 3d Armored Division resumed their advance north shortly after daybreak on 25 February 1991. The American 1st Armored Division troops made contact first, with outpost units of the Iraqi 26th Infantry Division, and turned on the enemy the tactical sequence that brought success throughout the campaign. With the American 1st Armored Division still about 35 to 40 miles away from its objective, close air support strikes began, followed by attack helicopter strikes. As the division closed to about 10 to 15 miles, artillery, rocket launchers, and tactical missile batteries delivered preparatory fires. As division lead elements came into visual range, psychological operations teams broadcast surrender appeals. If the Iraqis fired on the approaching Americans, the attackers repeated artillery, rocket, and missile strikes. In the experience of the American 1st Armored Division, that sequence was enough to gain the surrender of most Iraqi Army units in a given objective. Only once did the Iraqis mount an attack after a broadcast, and in that instance an American 1st Armored Division brigade destroyed forty to fifty tanks and armored personnel carriers in ten minutes at a range of 1.2 miles.

By late morning of 25 February 1991 Joint Forces Command North had made enough progress to allow the American VII Corps and Marine Central Command on the flanks to resume their advance. That afternoon and night in the American 1st Infantry Division sector, the Americans expanded their mine breach and captured two enemy brigade command posts and the Iraqi 26th Infantry Division command post, with a brigadier general and complete staff. Behind them, the British 1st Armored Division made good progress through the mine breach and prepared to turn right and attack the Iraqi 52d Armored Division.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 02:46:52 ZULU