26 years ago today: offensive operations in Desert Storm end

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26 years ago today: offensive operations in Desert Storm end

Hard to believe it has been 26 years since the first Gulf War, but it has.   Just the other day I wrote about the Battle of 73 Easting, not actually realizing we were coming up on the anniversary of it, but my friend Jonn Lilyea of This Ain't Hell was in a sister unit, and marks this as the anniversary of the Battle of Norfolk that he took part in:

The Battle of Norfolk was the cousin of the Battle of 73 Easting. Objective Norfolk was just the other side of that invisible line in the sand. Wiki says of that battle;

The Battle of Norfolk has been recognized by some sources as the second largest tank battle in American history and the largest tank battle of the 1st Gulf War. No fewer than 12 divisions participated in the Battle of Norfolk along with multiple brigades and elements of a regiment. American and British forces destroyed approximately 750 Iraqi tanks and hundreds of other types of combat vehicles.

Task Force 1-41 passed through elements of the 2d ACR at about 30 minutes after midnight in total darkness after a day-long march to get to the battle. The horizon in front of 2/2 Cav was dotted with burning armored vehicles, hundreds of Iraqi prisoners sat in tiny groups waving white flags so they wouldn’t get shot by the advancing armored vehicles. We could make out them and their flags through our thermal optics. As soon as we passed through the Cav’s vehicles, it became a 360-degree battle. Bravo Company’s commander became disoriented and led a platoon diagonally across the battlefield where they were mistaken for Iraqi armor by M1 gunners who immediately destroyed three of the Bradleys. Remarkably, only six of that 35-member platoon were killed.

After the battle Jonn notes:

We reconsolidated after a sleepless night and set out for Kuwait from there. Eventually, we began running out of fuel and the whole Brigade lagered up the night of the 27th and waited for the fuelers – and we got our first real sleep since we’d crossed into Iraq three days before only because our fuel tanks were nearly empty. I laid on top of our TOW missile launcher while I waited for the troops to get their own sleeping gear situated and woke up with the sun in my face the next morning with a few hours left before the ceasefire so we mounted up and moved out.

As the ceasefire deadline approached, we engaged with remnants of the Iraqi Army left behind by their leadership (which had fled back to Iraq on the nearby Highway One – the Highway of Death) and at 0800 local time, we turned left and stopped firing.

Anyway, I am rewatching the Frontline special about Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and thinking how much of what was left undone at the time would come back to revisit those of us who joined in the aftermath.  I was still in college at the time, trying to get into the military in time to get into the fight, but realizing that was unlikely.  Luckily I finished up college, because 100 hours after the ground offensive started, it was over.

February 22 - President George Bush issued a 24-hour ultimatum that Iraq must withdraw from Kuwait to avoid start of ground war.

February 23 - Iraqis ignited an estimated 700 oil wells in Kuwait.

February 24 - Allied ground assault began at 4 a.m. (February 23, 8 p.m. Eastern time).

February 25 - Iraqi Scud destroyed U.S. barracks in Dhahran, killing 28 U.S. military personnel.

February 27 - President George Bush declared Kuwait liberated, and suspended all U.S. and allied force offensive operations, exactly 100 hours after the ground battle started and six weeks to the day since air attacks were launched against Iraq.

February 28 - Cessation of hostilities declared, 8:01 a.m. (12:01 a.m. Eastern time).

Here's the video if you have 3+ hours:

Salute to Jonn and everyone out there who participated in the first Gulf War.

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The Desert Storm records are at the National Archives and Records Administration at College Park, NARA. Whereby some of the record listings are found in the Public Online Catalog through an advanced search using Record group 518. Record group 518 is the CENTCOM Joint Operation Command records. The Command Reports are under RG 518, A1 23, which contain the Significant Event Log, Daily Executive Summaries, War Book and EAP Emergency Action Plan Manual. They can be requested by a FOIA or MDR. The FOIA ONLINE Website, also has the SF 135 Record Receipt and transmittal form listing the RG 518 records and memos, under NN3-518-93-002(1).

The Desert Storm records at NARA, have only been accessible through a FOIA for the SF135 Record and Transmittal Forms which list the inventory and Item numbers of the actual documents. Previous electronic searches would result in a FOIA response of "Records not found during an electronic search" because the records were NOT searchable. The Online Catalog, also has Desert Storm records under Record Group 319, and 7th Corps begins with UD-12W 2. A FOIA or Mandatory Declassification Review MDR must be requested, since the records remain restricted beyond the 25 year period of the Executive Order 13526. Also, please review the new FOIA Improvement Act of June 30, 2016 , Section 3102, whereby commonly requested records are to be placed in a public electronic format. There is also a "Rule of 3", whereby 3 requests for similar records should ensure placement in the online public catalog. The Desert Storm records also have, Unit Logs, After Action Reports, Battle Damage Assessments, Summaries, memos, videos and aerial images. The Record Group 518, lists 518-DS consisting of 9 videos, and 518-AR , consisting of 31 video cassettes, of Moving Images and Aerial Reconnaissance during Desert Storm. The Aerial Recon images are under National Archives Identifier 17615823, Local Identifier 518-AR. The National Archives also has an Official social media YouTube Account, whereby these videos have not been reproduced. The actual documents and videos of Desert Storm have not been released on the Online Catalog. Some of The record group 518, 319, and 338 records are listed as to have Freedom of Information Appeals made. If the FOIA is granted, then the veteran can purchase copies of the documents. I have purchased the 332 MED BDE Unit Log, for about $89. It had the radio transmissions of 2 SCUD impacts 10 miles South of Hafar Al Batin on 15 Feb 1991, at 2300 PM, and coordinates that were the launch sites in Iraq. It was noted as a conference call and confirmed by COSCOM. Please refer to the FOIA ONLINE Web site, and search for NN3-518-93-02(1), and you will see interesting memos, around page 94, detailing how Phosgene was detected on the records at Ft Leavenworth, whereby staff were becoming sick in 1993 while inventorying the records. The records, were scientifically tested in 1995 by the National Media Lab, 3M , and Wisconsin Occupational Heath, using gas chromagraphy and mass spectrometry.
It would be beneficial if NARA would place some of the actual records in the Online Catalog. It has been over 25 years, and the 1st and 2nd Gulf Wars have come to a conclusion after more than 25 years later. The 1st Gulf War, involved the exposure of service members to nerve agents after the demolitions of chemical weapons at the Khamisiyah complex. The extensive Plume of Sarin nerve agent was admitted by the DOD in 1996, after the initial Gulf War Declassification Project. The Desert Storm records and video images have now remained restricted even as a National War Memorial is being proposed 25 years later. Please go to the National Archives and perform an Advanced Search, under Persian Gulf War, RG 518, 1990-1991, and you will now see the JOC Reports.
Please note, there are no actual documents released in the Online Public Catalog by NARA concerning
Desert Storm. It is unusual that Veterans Service Organizations have not requested, that some of these documents be available online? It is also unusual that there are no video images available from Record Group 518 reproduced at the 25th Anniversary period? Anyone who wishes to submit a FOIA or MDR, toward the Desert Storm records, may submit them to the National Archives at College Park, Chief, Special Access, FOIA Staff, 8601 Adelphi Rd, Room 5500, College Park, MD 20740-6001.

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.