Background Briefing

Subject: Iraq

Attributable To: Senior Military Official

Thursday, October 20, 1994 - 5:00 p.m

Briefer: On the first of October we received information that indicated to us that the Iraqis were, in fact, undertaking movement which was unusual and threatening, in my opinion. On the 6th of October an intelligence warning was issued to appropriate command authorities, and the intelligence system was also activated at that time to more closely monitor the situation.

The force buildup occurred during the period shown, 6 through 11. The end result of this force buildup, which was, I hasten to add, accompanied by actions on our part to deter the Iraqis and to be ready to act against them if that was required, also took place during that time. So the fact of the Iraqi buildup was certainly being paralleled, if you will, by our activities during this period.

The bottom line for the Iraqis was two Republican Guard armored divisions and some other combat support elements, notably air defenses, some additional artillery, and some support equipment capability, came into the south and arrayed themselves in a threatening manner against Kuwait, near the Kuwait border. As I told you before, the time and distance factors were the most alarming of the circumstances, as well as the fact that this was their best... These two divisions constituted an element of their very best combat force.

The current circumstances are shown on this slide. The Republican Guard have essentially gone north of the 32 degree parallel. Remaining in the south are substantial forces -- essentially one mechanized division, two armored divisions, three infantry divisions, and some remnants of other forces remain in the south, constituting a significant combat capability, but these forces are habitually assigned there and are not part of the Republican Guard deployment toward the border with Kuwait. These forces currently are not in a threatening posture. Currently.

I would like to give you an assessment that I think is important for you to have. It's my assessment. That the Iraqis are capable with some regeneration of the transportation structure that they just used to move forces to the south, they are capable in the near future -- I can't give you a more precise time than that -- of regenerating that force and this transportation capability and placing their forces once again in a threatening posture towards the Kuwait border. That constitutes, in my view, a continuing threat in the absence of a credible deterrence in their eyes. That's probably the crux of the situation for me, to continue to be able to monitor the Iraqis and ensure that I'm able to give adequate warning to my commanders and operational masters so that they can act appropriately if, in fact, the Iraqis once again are not deterred and undertake some form of military activity.


I do have some photos. These photos are all concerning the Iraqi withdrawal. I'd like to call your attention to the north arrow, and keep in mind that the imagery is skewed in relation to true north, but the fact is that this shows heavy equipment transporters on the road. This one loaded, of course, and a couple of others here, resupply vehicles, going north on this road.


This is the An Nasiryah rail transshipment point on the 13th. My purpose in showing you this photograph was to let you know there was considerable movement at that site on the 13th. I think there's a follow-on picture I'm going to show you of the same site.


You can just note that this indicates some transshipment activity going through An Nasiryah on the 13th, in a fairly controlled and actually professional appearing fashion.


I'd like to show you a picture of the same railhead site on 17 October. This shows you the apparent disarray and confusion after what I would call a speedy withdrawal of Republican Guard forces through the same railhead site.

As you'll recall from my earlier background briefing to you, this follows the point in which the Republican Guard had stopped at An Nasiryah, had gone away from the railhead and deployed into the environs of An Nasiryah and Talil Airbase which is near by, and then had come back to the railhead in fairly rapid order late on the 15th and on the 16th, and then moved out of An Nasiryah, and this is the result on the 17th of that move.


This last photo once again shows, this is in the vicinity of As Samawah which is in the central part of Iraq right on or very close to the 32 degree line. This shows a train going north, well loaded with Republican Guard equipment. We know that by the nature of the equipment and the signature portrayed there.

I believe we have arranged to make these photos available as soon as possible for your use.

That's the end of my presentation except to say I'd like to highlight my assessment. The Republic Guards can, in fact, or the Iraqi military can in fact generate a force rapidly again. We need to be watchful of that in the future.

Q: Can we get what the U.S. forces in theater are now?

A: Let me start by sort of giving you the rationale, but let me give you the forces themselves. This was the initial force requirement the CINC gave us. You can see it was fairly sizeable. I'm not going to read that to you. You can see what it says. Obviously, this is an amphibious readiness group of about 2,000 Marines, a Marine Expeditionary Force, a fairly significant number of combat and support aircraft. The last piece down here for those who can't see it says an Army Corps-- three divisions and the support elements associated with that. So that was the initial number of forces and design of the force based on the threat that was seen at that time.

This is what we've had on alert. This is what we're taking off alert, basically, and saying that this force is not going to flow. A different force either is already there or will continue to flow and that's on the next chart.

Q: Roughly 30,000?

A: No, it's substantially more than that. The 36,000 that you heard the Secretary talk about, this is what we alerted. The 36,000 was what we had already told to deploy. It was in the queue to deploy. Remember the number, I think the Secretary mentioned the number 36,000 when he was in Kuwait. That's what he was talking about. So this is what was alerted. This is about 155, that's ground forces that you all saw from some papers we gave you earlier.

Q: That includes the 36?

A: That includes the 36. The 36 was what we had in the queue to go, and actually was told to deploy. This is what was alerted.

Q: What were the three Army divisions? You had the 24th which is going anyway, and the other two you had alerted were what?

A: You're asking a guy three and a half days in the job a tough question. I wasn't here. Probably the 101st. I'd be guessing. Let me get you the right numbers. Obviously, one was the 24th and I'll get you the other two.

Q: So 55,000 was the total number alerted?

A: That's right. That was about the size of the ground force that we would have put in there, that's right.

Q: Those 36,000 were in the queue to deploy?

A: Right, we had actually told about 36,000 to deploy.

Q: What kind of time frame... The Army brigade [stuff] was afloat. [inaudible] What time frame did you have to flow in the rest of that stuff?

A: I'm going to go through the initial flow here, if there's a question on that. I can go through the initial flow here if you want to hear that now. But the actual remaining, if we flowed all of these forces we would have been out into November, obviously, to get large forces like this into the theater. But the initial elements, let me just give you an example so you get the feel for how we flow these forces.

Q: [inaudible]

A: The ground forces themselves, of course... One of the advantages was we had this Amphibious Readiness Group in exercise in the UAE, so we reloaded it and within 24 hours after it was told to move it was sitting off the coast. There were 2,000 Marines within 24 hours.

The initial elements of the 1st Brigade minus that was sent to fall in on the equipment that was pre-positioned in Kuwait, was over there in 48 hours after told to deploy. And the brigade minus had fallen in on its equipment and was ready for combat four days after it was told to deploy. That's the three-by-three that you all asked about earlier today. So it fell in on its equipment. There were some other elements with that as well, some air defense units, a couple of Patriot batteries. We had pre-positioned Patriot forces over there. We had some Patriot forces fall in on that equipment to increase our number of Patriots in the theater.

In terms of air, the 23rd Composite Wing was the first to flow, and some

F-15s out of Langley. The F-15s arrived about, as I recall, they were all in the neighborhood of 72 hours after told to deploy. One of the things you have to remember on this is, the composite wing or the 23rd Wing fighters were out at Nellis exercising in a Red Flag deployment, had to go back to Pope and then generate for deployment. So they did a double move in a very, very short period of time. That can happen. That's not outside the realm of possibilities. Those things can happen to you.

The aircraft carrier GEORGE WASHINGTON was up in the Mediterranean. It in-chopped into the CENTCOM AOR, through the canal and into the Red Sea 48 hours after it was told to deploy. So that gives you a feel for the initial response of our forces in regards to the deployment orders that went out.

Q: Where did the second carrier come from?

A: We had a number of places we could have taken it from. Obviously, they had the KITTY HAWK up off the coast in Korea with the problems there. People were hesitant to take that presence away at that particular time, obviously. We had the CONSTELLATION on the West Coast preparing to go out and replace the KITTY HAWK that could have been sped up. We also had the EISENHOWER which was on the East Coast generating. The AMERICA, of course, was in a different configuration because of Haiti, but of course it was headed back. It could have been used had we called it back earlier, but of course it was tied up in the Haiti operation. Those were the carriers that were in position to move very quickly. So we could have very quickly got the second carrier out there. The timing on it, I've forgotten exactly when it would have come in, but it would have been about the 15th or 16th day to get it over there.

This is the revised CENTCOM requirement based on what we see now. The bottom line is, the forces you see here are already in place with the exception of the 2nd Brigade of the 24th Mechanized Division. It is flowing now. It is going to fall in on the pre-positioned afloat equipment that we mentioned earlier, the 12 ships that are still flowing. Most of them are there, but there are still a few headed in the direction of the Gulf.

Q: How many ground troops?

A: We're looking in the vicinity of all of this being about 34,000.

Q: Ground combat?

A: If I've got my numbers right, we're talking around 13,000 ground forces. Around 13,000.

Q: The Marine Expeditionary Force is not...

A: The Marine Expeditionary Force will not deploy. Now one of the things we are going to do is we've got the MPS ships there. We're going to take one of the five ships, and this isn't settled yet, but we hope to be able to bring it into port. It has its own off-load capability right there, and it's going to off-load the equipment. It's an exercise the Marines do all the time. The equipment is there, we might as well take advantage of it instead of steaming out and then steaming back again in six months. So we're going to exercise one of the maritime pre-positioned ships with the Marines. Forces are not going to fall in on it, no additional people are going to go to support that, but we're going to do the exercise since the ships are in the Gulf right now.

Q: Will you use the amphibious Marine units at all, or will they stay on the...

A: These forces are there now. This is the TRIPOLI ARG. It is there now and will stay for some period until the CINC determines it's no longer needed.

Q: They will stay afloat or will they...

A: They will stay afloat. They already did. I recall one small exercise where they sent a small group ashore, but they're back out at sea now.

Q: What do you think is the maximum that these ground forces will be staying there? And how much longer than that would the air power stay there?

A: I think a lot of this is driven by events. It's driven by... These forces are there, we might as well get some value out of it. They're not going to turn around tomorrow. But this is not a decision we will make here. This is a decision that General Peay and the CENTCOM folks will make, and we will act on his recommendations. The Chairman will take those into consideration.

Q: What's the breakout of combat and support aircraft?

A: I should have that for you. Again, I don't want to give you a bad number. I'll get it for you before we leave here.

Q: Were the bombers held back? No 52s, no 117s?

A: We held back B-52s, we held back F-117s, the second squadron. If you look at the forces that did not go, you will see that the second squadron of most of the kinds of airplanes you can think of did not go. The bombers did not deploy. They were on alert, and a very high level of alert, I might add, so they could have deployed right here from CONUS and conducted their missions.

Q: [inaudible]

A: I think there's one squadron over there. I'll have to check it again. But I know the second squadron was canceled.

Q: You've got 117s, F-15s, F-16s, A-10s? Basically that's the...

A: Back to your question, I don't think there are any 117s. You're right. There are no 117s. There are F-15s, F-16s, and there are a couple of varieties of

F-16s, A-10s there now, and of course aboard GEORGE WASHINGTON you've got

A-6s, F/A-18s, and F-14s.

Q: You made a big point of the first time nature of this thing. We've seen troops falling on pre-positioned equipment for years.

A: Sure you have...

Q: They did it in Europe in REFORGER, they did it in the Gulf. What's new about this?

A: It's the pre-positioned afloat equipment we haven't fallen in on.

Q: You did that in the Gulf. You brought Diego Garcia equipment into Saudi Arabia and the troops fell on that.

A: Not Army. This was Marines that fell in on the equipment.

Q: This is the Army doing it?

A: That's right. These are the 12 Army pre-positioned ships that have been crafted. It's a brigade set of equipment afloat. We have had those ships in places where we were going to fall in on the equipment, but it just didn't... Rwanda, for example. These ships came in and we did not operate any equipment. So what we're trying to do now is off-load the equipment, marry it up with the forces, and be sure that it's all functional, everything's there they need to conduct operations, and that's why we're carrying through with... One of the reasons we're carrying through with the second division.

Q: You mentioned that obviously the receding threat has a lot to do with the scale-back of forces, but what factors did the Saudi's sensitivity to having additional American ground troops or aircraft have in this decision? As well as the added costs to the GCC countries and the United States?

A: I would tell you as an operator, my feeling is, and I feel fairly certain about this, that we have sent the proper force in regard to the threat posed to us by the Iraqis. Clearly there are some elements of what you described at play in this, but it did not drive the decision.