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  #361  
Old August 23rd, 2013, 07:19 PM
Wet Coast Wet Coast is online now
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Originally Posted by bguy View Post
"With light covering fire from the frigate and remaining corvette, the first groups of Iraqi marines went ashore at 0147 hours March 29. Meeting little resistance except for local police and backed up by a company of PT-76 amphibious tanks that landed at the local marina, the landing force quickly secured a beachhead stretching nearly a mile into the island’s interior before the Bahraini Army was able to get a sizable blocking force into place by 0330."
Yeah but a company of tanks is only 12 to 16 tanks depending upon organization. Intelligence would probably notice the movement of large numbers of tanks but these were most likely already in the port and could be loaded in a very short period of time.
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  #362  
Old August 23rd, 2013, 07:36 PM
NeoDesperado NeoDesperado is offline
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Just read my way through this one - a great deal of fun! Things look like they're going to get very ugly in most of Arabia -it's tempting to screw over the Saudis, but it's going to be a bit tough on the man in the street or the woman in the house...

Bruce
Thank you! Very true; whatever people may feel about the Saudi government and its practices, it's good to remember that a lot of innocents are caught in the crossfire and suffering for it. IIRC, Roger Ebert noted something along those lines with his review of '2012' and our tendency to overlook the human factor in disaster porn media.

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Nice one: Doc and Melissa (and any other female POWs) are going to be in for a rough time. It won't be long before they're sent to Baghdad. And there, things get really bad......or, as the title of one of the first books about the POW experience in SEA said, "They Wouldn't Let Us Die."

As for subs? The Central and Northern Gulf are not deep enough for a USN or RN fast-attack boat to really operate. The depth's less than 300 feet on average.
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It still seems like the U.S. Navy is being way to caution here though. OTL they were willing to expose their surface ships to the risk of cruise missile attack (the Iraqis even lobbed a couple of Silkworms at the Missouri), so its hard to believe ITL they would leave the entire northern Persian Gulf uncovered like this. Admiral Cunningham's words would seem applicable, "It takes 3 years to build a ship, it takes 3 centuries to build a tradition." And if the honor of the Navy wasn't enough reason, the Navy admirals would certainly be worried about future budget battles if the Navy just yields half the Gulf like this. Its going to be very difficult for the Navy brass to convince Congress to fund additional warships in the future, if the Navy was cowering in the face of creaky Silkworms while Army troops were fighting for their lives in the desert.)

(It's also difficult to believe that US intelligence would completely miss the Iraqis prepping for an amphibious invasion, especially one that involves tanks.)
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but it didn't. it was all just a big bluff. those transport ships were empty
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Originally Posted by bguy View Post
"With light covering fire from the frigate and remaining corvette, the first groups of Iraqi marines went ashore at 0147 hours March 29. Meeting little resistance except for local police and backed up by a company of PT-76 amphibious tanks that landed at the local marina, the landing force quickly secured a beachhead stretching nearly a mile into the island’s interior before the Bahraini Army was able to get a sizable blocking force into place by 0330."
Okee day, let me try to explain my thinking here a bit more.

1) The American mindset here, as in OTL, is fixated on over preparedness. (Ex. spending twice as long to build up supply depots and reinforcements than was really necessary) Schwarzkopf is a veteran of the planning debacle in Grenada, and doesn't want to launch something half-cocked.
2) The Bab el Mendab has only been open for about a week now, and while CENTCOM is fairly certain that Yemen is out of tricks, it'll take a bit to get the naval log jam in the eastern Med on station in the Gulf. We're still looking at another 2-3 weeks before the heavy hitters like the Wisconsin or the Missouri are on the scene.
3) Saddam is quite familiar with American surveillance capability from intelligence he received from them during the Iran-Iraq War, and to a certain extent can mask some of his preparations from the West.
4) The pullout from Dhahran and the ongoing push from the Republican Guard has done a good job of distracting everyone's attention to the landward side of the campaign. Which brings us to:
5) No one expected the Iraqi Navy to do this, and our intelligence gathering in that sector suffered as a result. Minelaying around Kuwait and Al Jubail? Sure. The occasional oil tanker trying to run the embargo line? You betcha. Taking an enormous gamble and launching an invasion of Bahrain with their navy? Care to share some of what you're smoking?

Saddam Hussein is a big gambler at this point in history, and for once the stars aligned and it actually worked. Yes, he took some serious losses from the allies for it and you can bet that after being made the fool we'll be seeing some unholy retribution come down for it. Just as certainly as the Congressional investigation committees will be demanding answers to why we dropped the ball so badly on this one.

To clear up some confusion over the landing capability, in 1990 the Iraqi Navy had 6 landing ships in their inventory, 3 of which were tank-capable. All of these were used to transport and land the marines and PT-76s, which on their own would have not been nearly enough to take on Bahrain's military. The bluff came in the form of the 'modified' cargo ships offshore which Saddam claimed held 3 times the amount of tanks and men and which would be sent in to conquer the island if the sheikh refused to back down. When combined with the threat of concentrated Scud attacks, it was enough to tip the scales and convince Bahrain to bow out. It was an absolutely brilliant move, and Western intelligence is going to be catching flak for failing to notice two brigades worth of men and equipment loading onto ships, unjustly so, since they were never there to begin with.
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Lines in the Sand: A History of the Gulf War

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  #363  
Old August 24th, 2013, 08:48 PM
NeoDesperado NeoDesperado is offline
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Hey everybody, quick interim update. We're now one month into the Gulf/Arabian War (and what a month it was!) and I thought it may be helpful to post an abridged timeline to recap March 1991 and some of its noteworthy events. Also, if there's anyone familiar with the 1991 U.S. political scene, who might be likely candidates for a Congressional investigative committee on the conduct of the war?

Lines in the Sand: A History of the Gulf War
(Cliffnotes Edition)

XIII.V


Timeline of Events: March 1991
March 1: Iraq invades and occupies Emirate of Kuwait (occupation complete by March 3) / UN Resolution 672 calls for immediate Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait / Iraq closes borders with neighbors

March 2: Iraqi forces begin invasion of Saudi Arabia along Highway 95, advancing as far south as Al Khafji

March 3: Yemen invades southwestern Saudi Arabia via Highways 5 and 15, advance some 20 miles into Saudi territory / King Fahd gives permission for American troops to deploy into the kingdom for defense / UN Resolution 673 calls for ceasefire and for Iraq and Yemen to withdraw to pre-conflict borders

March 4: Yemen announces it has mined and blockaded the Bab el Mendab Strait / UN Resolution 674 calls for economic sanctions against Iraq and Yemen / First American fighter squadrons and advance elements of 82nd Airborne Division begin arriving in Saudi Arabia / Oil tanker Hilda Knutsen sunk by anti-ship missile attack during attempt to run Bab el Mendab blockade / Air strike from USS Independence hits suspected missile positions on Yemeni coast / Iraq launches second invasion column into Saudi Arabia along Highway 50 towards Hafar al Batin

March 5: Battle of Al Jubayl (Iraqi victory) / Battle of Hafar al Batin (Iraqi victory) / Southern Najran Province seized by Yemen

March 6: Battle of Khamis Mushait (stalemate between Yemen and Saudi Arabia) / Iraqi invasion force halts along northern front to regroup and resupply / Iraq opens borders to allow refugees to leave, begins rounding up foreign citizens / Public protests begin in Riyadh

March 7: Peace proposal from Soviet Foreign Minister Alexander Bessmertnykh, unsuccessful / Iraq and Yemen release demands for peace / Iraq declares that Emirate of Kuwait has ceased to exist and will henceforth be known as Military Governorate of Kuwait / Yemeni forces complete seizure of Jezan Province / Yemeni capture of water treatment facilities at Al Shuqaiq forces Saudi retreat from southern Asir Province / Iraq begins launching ballistic missile attacks against northern Persian Gulf region

March 8: Battle of the Bab el Mendab (Yemeni victory), Naval Task Force Tariq attacked by anti-ship missiles, two ships sunk and two damaged / US Marines from 7th MEB begin arriving in Saudi Arabia / Egyptian forces begin arriving at Jeddah

March 9: Major Iraqi Air Force raid against King Khalid Military City defeated, final IAF air raid south of the front until March 26 / Linkup of Yemeni columns in Abha-Khamis Mushait region / US 101st Airborne Division begins deploying to Saudi Arabia

March 10: SEAL teams landed on Yemeni coast in first phase of Operation Icebreaker / Economic embargo against Iraq and Yemen officially begins / Iraq announces ‘human shield’ policy

March 14: Deadline for foreign embassies in Kuwait to shut down and evacuate

March 16: Operation Southern Fist, major allied air attack against Yemen, serious damage done to Yemeni military and infrastructure / Socotra Island seized from Yemen by joint French-American operation / Special Forces and SAS teams inserted into eastern Yemen

March 18: King Fahd and Crown Prince Abdullah assassinated during ambush by Al Qaeda operatives

March 19: Prince Sultan, Prince Nayef, and Prince Mansour lay claim to throne of Saudi Arabia / Order begins breaking down among Saudi military

March 20: Power and water to foreign embassies in Kuwait shut off by Governorate authorities / Saudi Binladin Group headquarters attacked

March 21: Battle of the Grand Mosque (pro-Sultan forces victory)

March 22: Increasing chaos in Saudi Arabia / Jordanian troops invade northwestern Saudi Arabia in declared ‘peacekeeping’ role / 3rd Brigade, 9th Infantry Division begins arriving in Saudi Arabia

March 23: Second phase of Operation Icebreaker, air strikes from USS Independence and USS Midway against Yemeni coastal bunkers along Bab el Mendab / Kuwaiti Government in Exile flees Saudi Arabia, resettles in UAE

March 24: Prince Nayef announces formation of New Ihkwan military force

March 25: Jordanian forces pause to consolidate gains

March 26: Bab el Mendab Strait declared open for shipping by CENTCOM / Iraq launches new ground offensive towards Dhahran, secondary armored thrust along Highway 75 / Iraqi airborne assault seizes Judah at Highway 75/40 junction / PanAm 307 shot down, killing 409 / First American female POWs taken by Iraqis

March 27: Battle of Alsarar (American victory) / Battle of Judah (American victory) / Iraqi main thrust reaches outskirts of Dhahran area / Battle of Dhahran (Iraqi victory) / Evacuation of American forces from Dhahran begins

March 28: Battle of Al Hofuf (American victory) / Iraqi forces occupy Dhahran / Attacks against US Embassy and International Airport in Riyadh

March 29: Battle of Bahrain (Iraqi victory) / Bahrain declares itself neutral / Allied air strikes sink 19 Iraqi Navy ships

March 30: 24th Infantry Division arrives at Doha


Allied KIA (excludes Saudi forces) as of April 1 1991: 547

Market Price of Oil as of April 1 1991: $106.82 USD
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  #364  
Old August 25th, 2013, 02:07 AM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is online now
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Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA) and Sen. John Warner (R-VA) on the Senate side, Rep. Les Aspin (D-WI) and Rep. Sonny Montgomery (R-MS) on the House side. They are the chairs and ranking members of the respective Armed Services Committees at the time.
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  #365  
Old August 26th, 2013, 03:25 AM
Orville_third Orville_third is offline
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A minor question: How is anti-war sentiment abroad? Most people were pro-war, but there were quite a few opposed to it.
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  #366  
Old August 26th, 2013, 07:15 AM
Pesterfield Pesterfield is offline
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How is Iran reacting?

On one hand they have no love for Sunni dominated Arabia that's getting torn apart, on the other hand Iraq is doing the tearing and them coming out stronger from this could be a direct threat.
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  #367  
Old August 26th, 2013, 08:00 AM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is online now
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Saddam Hussein was a villain straight out of Central Casting in OTL's Gulf War, and it was easy back in '91 for those who were pro-war to say "If you oppose the war, you're pro-Saddam." I imagine the same thing will happen here.
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  #368  
Old August 26th, 2013, 04:02 PM
NeoDesperado NeoDesperado is offline
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Originally Posted by Matt Wiser View Post
Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA) and Sen. John Warner (R-VA) on the Senate side, Rep. Les Aspin (D-WI) and Rep. Sonny Montgomery (R-MS) on the House side. They are the chairs and ranking members of the respective Armed Services Committees at the time.
Thanks!

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How is Iran reacting?

On one hand they have no love for Sunni dominated Arabia that's getting torn apart, on the other hand Iraq is doing the tearing and them coming out stronger from this could be a direct threat.
At the moment their primary concern is rebuilding the country and getting the military back in decent shape. It's only been 3 years since they (technically) lost the longest conventional war of the 20th century, and their naval capability is negligible after Nimble Archer and Praying Mantis. They have forces built up on their western border to keep Saddam from getting any ideas, but for right now all they can really do is watch and try to exert some behind the scenes pressure. Basically, the Ayatollah is crossing his fingers and hoping (in irony of ironies) that the allies can turn this around, because otherwise they're stuck preparing for round two with a newly confident Iraqi juggernaut calling the shots in the Middle East.

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A minor question: How is anti-war sentiment abroad? Most people were pro-war, but there were quite a few opposed to it.
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Saddam Hussein was a villain straight out of Central Casting in OTL's Gulf War, and it was easy back in '91 for those who were pro-war to say "If you oppose the war, you're pro-Saddam." I imagine the same thing will happen here.
Larger anti-war protests in TTL, both along the 'No blood for oil' stance and the 'I told you so' group pointing to the recent casualties and setbacks for the Americans. However, these will face a more incensed pro-war group that's declaring 'All the way to Baghdad' since the past month has shown that Saddam represents a huge threat to the world order (especially on an economic level). The Saddam is Hitler 2.0 analogue works even better here. As time goes on we'll be seeing increasing clashes between these groups, especially in the United States.
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  #369  
Old September 5th, 2013, 10:30 PM
NeoDesperado NeoDesperado is offline
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Evening, everyone. Sadly, with my last semester of grad school now underway and diverting much of my attention, it may be a while before I can post another chapter for this timeline. Rest assured, I have no desire to let it wither and die because I'm looking forward to what happens next as much as you. I'll still frequent AH.com and post updates when I can and certainly answer your queries to the best of my ability. I apologize for this chapter not being the most auspicious or earth shaking in content, but it's as good a place as any to pause things. As always, my thanks to everyone who's commented and offered advice throughout the summer. And now, on with the show!

Lines in the Sand: A History of the Gulf War

XIV


“The United States is paying dearly for its arrogance, and after the final victory the waters of the Gulf shall run red with the blood of its lost sons.” – Saddam Hussein


Moscow, USSR - 21:40 MSK April 2 1991
“The question, comrades, is what are we are going to do about this business with the Arabs?”

“Haven’t you heard? We are expected to continue serving as the lapdog of the imperialists.”

“That fucking upstart is going to see the Union crashing down around us because he has no stomach to keep the republics in their proper place.”

“Goddamned diplomacy…all of this ‘shoulder to shoulder’ business with the Americans is insanity. Decades of work, DECADES, lost in the span of a month to keep Washington happy.”

“If your man Saddam had bothered to get our approval before throwing the entire goddamned peninsula into the furnace, we wouldn’t have lost decades of work to begin with!”

“Trying to keep Saddam collared was a chore at the best of times. But losing Yemen as well, and Assad facing off against them both…the mind staggers at the investment we’re losing.”

“Do not mince words, Boris. Our investment is already well lost. All we can really do is salvage what we can from the wreckage.”

“Suppose that Saddam triumphs in this war? That would put us in an unassailable position in the Middle East and able to truly dictate terms to the West.”

If he manages this, then yes. Which I highly doubt he will. He has been surprisingly lucky against the imperialists so far, but it will not last. What happened in Yemen was mere practice, and once the Americans regain their feet Saddam will be overwhelmed.”

“Sadly, I must agree with you comrade. It is only a matter of time before this charade ends. You must admit though, it is providing us with a wealth of information about American capabilities against our equipment.”

“A child trying to operate his father’s car and sending it off a cliff proves nothing.”

“Indeed. If we could unleash the Red Air Force alone upon the West, we could destroy their planes and throw them into the Gulf within two days.”

“Boasts count for nothing here, Dmitriy, and it brings us no closer to arriving at a solution.”

“I was merely indulging, comrade. At least I desire to do something against the Americans besides talk them to death.”

“Mind your words, Comrade Minister. There are only loyal sons of the Soviet Union within these walls. Do not dismiss our purpose to serve your own delusions.”

“Comrades, enough. This bickering is pointless. We need solutions.”

“…Very well. Lets us consider the situation anew. Without massive outside support, Iraq will lose this war eventually. We are in no position to offer that support, so barring a miracle it is only a matter of time before the Americans are victorious in the Middle East. A victory that will, no doubt, result in a greatly increased presence by their military in the region for years to come. And will also no doubt result in the dismemberment of two valuable allies of the Soviet Union.”

“‘Valuable’ may be somewhat of a stretch.”

“Regardless. We must make the most of this situation.”

“If there has been any upside to this catastrophe, it has been our economy. Oil prices continue to rise, and with most of the Middle East in flames or blockaded that leaves us in a favorable position. Already we are in the midst of deals with the Europeans and the Japanese. Tokyo, especially, has been quite desperate to find a suitable replacement for their oil shipments.”

“That must be giving Washington conniptions.”

“My point, comrades, is that this war will not last forever, but the longer it goes on and the more damage done to the oil fields provides us with greater opportunity to take advantage of the current market situation. Therefore, it is to all of our advantage to assist the Iraqis.”

“And how would you suggest we accomplish this delicate task?”

“There is the matter of several thousand of our fellow citizens still trapped within Iraq. Saddam has been quite adamant about refusing them exit visas.”

“An unfortunate situation. The stupid prick will be made to answer for that eventually.”

“His little weasel of a Foreign Minister keeps knocking at our gates and begging for scraps. Perhaps we should finally throw something his way.”

“Hm. Getting that many people out of the country would take numerous transport flights. Something the Americans are learning the hard way right now.”

“Numerous flights utilizing large cargo carriers. No reason to disrupt our commercial air traffic with this. Quite a lot could be shipped on those flights before we get everyone out.”

“What about sending a few surplus S-200s his way? We’re phasing out the system anyway, but they would be more than sufficient to keep the American pilots on their toes. Saddam will surely agree to such an exchange.”

“An excellent start, Comrade Minister! We would finally have an opportunity to tweak the Americans’ noses back for their meddling in Afghanistan.”

“We must be careful not to overplay our hand here. The consequences of word leaking out about this arrangement would be…unfortunate. How are we to explain this sudden change in Iraq’s thinking, this newfound generosity?”

“That is easy enough. Cover the exchange by saying that we have decided to give new consideration to Iraq and Yemen’s peace proposal. Iraq releases our nationals in a sign of good faith, we debate and muse over their demands for a time, the back-and-forth continues for months, and in the end everyone is right back where they started. With the exception of all of our people being home, of course. We come out of the arrangement looking quite clever at having taken advantage of Iraq, and no one in Washington is the wiser to what has truly taken place.”

“…This could certainly work. We will need to proceed with the utmost secrecy though. If one of Mikhail’s toadies discovers this operation, it is all of our necks.”

“Don’t concern yourself with that. We’ll deal with him and that little bastard Yeltsin soon enough.”



Excerpt from Mother of All Battles: A New History of the Arabian War
By Simon Anderson Naval Institute Press 1995

Race to Riyadh
The loss of Bahrain as a contributing partner in the alliance was a serious blow to morale and prestige. An insignificant Third World naval force had managed to sneak in under the nose of CENTCOM and detach the island from the defensive effort. While losing Bahrain’s military support was hardly fatal to the war effort, it placed the United States in an awkward position as the remaining members of the Gulf states looked to them as a suitable protector from Iraqi aggression. General Schwarzkopf had spent his time as CENTCOM’s commanding officer trying to convince the leaders of the Middle East that the United States would not ‘cut and run’ as it had in Lebanon, but such assurances meant little if the Americans could not even prevent a few Iraqi patrol boats from operating at will in the Gulf. In addition to the justified fury of the American military in regard to the Iraqi operation, CENTCOM’s desire to show the Gulf that they were fully capable of defending their borders no doubt helped influence the scale of the response operation on March 31.

In the early hours of the morning, three USN submarines had moved into position from their previous posts patrolling the Strait of Hormuz and over the course of half an hour fired off no less than 35 Tomahawk cruise missiles at targets in Kuwait City and Um Qasr. Guided by onboard GPS, the missiles struck naval and port facilities in both cities and took out the surviving major surface units of the Iraqi Navy. What few patrol boats that survived the initial wave of strikes were mercilessly finished off when a wave of A-6 Intruders from the USS Midway raided the ports an hour later. Nicknamed ‘Operation Overkill’ by the Midway’s pilots, it completely annihilated any and all remaining naval capability for Iraq. The strike itself met with only a delayed response from local Iraqi air patrols and the F-14 escorts for the Intruders downed a Mig-21 as the raid was exiting the area. Allied revenge wasn’t without its casualties however; 2 A-6s and an F-14 were lost to air defense emplacements guarding the port zones.

With the naval threat from Iraq now thoroughly dealt with, CENTCOM set about trying to court Bahrain back into the fold of the alliance. Under the terms of the neutrality agreement, both Iraqi and allied ships were barred from operating in Bahrain’s waters, though after the air attack on March 31 the declaration really only applied to the Western navies and gave the Republican Guard some measure of a guarded flank for their forces in Dhahran. The skies over the island were a slightly different matter, as while Bahraini airspace was closed to overflights by the various surrounding air forces, it did nothing to prevent Iraq from continuing to launch its nightly missile attacks against targets in Qatar. The passage of 5 Al Husseins overhead on the night of April 1 were the first in a wave of ongoing reminders at what Sheikh Isa was sparing his people from by staying out of the fight, though the poor accuracy of the missiles led to some near misses for the island in the coming days. For CENTCOM, the threat of missile attacks proved to keep the sheikh frustratingly aloof from their pleas to rejoin the fight. Every day that Bahrain stayed out ran the risk of other Arab nations deciding to cut their losses and back down. On the bright side, the sheikh had rejected a request from Saddam to potentially base anti-ship missile batteries on the island. Bahrain was a dead zone in the campaign maps that had to be worked around and would have to be dealt with in the near future, but at least the island’s neutrality was unbiased enough to prevent it from acting as a forward staging area for the Republican Guard and the IAF.

To the west, there was little doubt over the intended objective of the Iraqi 2nd Armored (Medina) Division and the 4th Mechanized Division as they moved south from Hafar al Batin. Thanks to the newly signed cease-fire with Prince Nayef, Saddam’s forces now faced only a battalion-sized force of pro-Sultan infantry backed up by a few tanks and towed howitzers defending King Khalid Military City. These were the soldiers who had remained after the initial round of mass desertions or defections to opposing factions in late March and were determined to defend their zone of responsibility and the honor of their units in the face of overwhelming Iraqi firepower. With the majority of pro-Sultan units deployed east to assist with the defense effort along the coast or fighting to maintain some semblance of control in Riyadh, the Saudi battalion was quite literally the only allied force of any size standing between the Republican Guard and the kingdom’s seat of power. Adopting the title of ‘The Defiant Battalion’, they had refused multiple calls from the Iraqis to surrender or pull back in the days leading up to the offensive and managed to throw back an initial Iraqi reconnaissance in force around midday on April 1. The small victory was quickly eclipsed as the full armored might of the Iraqi thrust hit the Saudi defense lines that afternoon and the battalion was in full retreat within an hour. Surprisingly, losses among the defenders were lighter than expected as a significant amount of enemy’s firepower was targeted against defensive emplacements that had been abandoned as the succession crisis developed, allowing many to escape down Highway 50. The struggle for the sprawling military base concluded by nightfall, leaving the Iraqis in possession of the last major urban center in northeastern Saudi Arabia.

While the Republican Guard met with relatively no resistance on the ground in their latest advance, their progress was contested much more fiercely in the kingdom’s skies. With the IAF steadily losing a war of attrition to assist the ground assault, Saddam had been forced to pull and redeploy several fresh squadrons of fighters to the Saudi theater, severely weakening the air defense capability against his neighbors. The new squadrons provided a much needed shot in the arm for maintaining an acceptable level of air cover for the Republican Guard but did nothing to slow the appalling daily losses in the face of determined allied resistance. Planners in Baghdad estimated that if the current rates continued, the IAF would be gutted within two weeks and unable to even make a contribution to defending Iraqi airspace. With this deadline looming, Saddam had ordered his units to proceed south regardless of casualties. The divisions now operating in the Dhahran area were fully committed to pushing the Americans out of the area and unable to move against Riyadh without almost certainly getting flanked and cut off by the allied ground army around Al Hofuf. With every unit in eastern Saudi Arabia now pinned down in the battle along the coast, it fell to the two western Iraqi divisions to break the stalemate and make a run for the capital.

With the majority of the IAF defending their new conquests in eastern Saudi Arabia, air cover for the western push was noticeably spottier, something that the allies were quick to take advantage of. With a number of fighter squadrons still recovering operational capacity after the forced relocations from Riyadh and Dhahran, only the relatively limited number of craft available for strikes prevented the advance from becoming a total massacre. As it was, allied air units broke through IAF patrols with relative ease to hit the staggered lines of vehicles stretching for miles along Highway 50 and inflicted serious casualties throughout April 2-3. As one A-10 pilot recalled, ‘If you shot at the highway there was no way you could miss hitting something. It was point-fire-kill. Easiest missions we ever flew.’ The matter of Prince Nayef’s ceasefire threw a potential wrench into the strikes as it technically closed airspace over central Saudi Arabia from use by the allies. Despite this restriction, there were numerous incidents of American fighters launching from carriers in the Mediterranean passing through Nayef-controlled territory on their way to hit the western attack column. In all, the balance between attack and defense seemed evenly matched but failed to prevent the column from penetrating as far as the town of Al Artawiyah by April 4 before pausing to resupply. 30 miles to the south was Al Majmaah, the last Saudi town of any size between them and Riyadh, and the latest chosen line of defense for the Defiant Battalion. Raided stocks from what was left at King Khalid had helped augment their supply situation, but the sheer distance of their advance in so short a period had strained their abilities almost to the limit. At the start of the conflict Saddam had deemed the western push as a secondary front to merely divide allied attention and allow the main thrust along the coast to knock out the main defensive effort. With the coastal front rapidly settling into stalemate and the western push now deemed essential to winning the war against the West, the commanding officers of 2nd Armored and 4th Mechanized found themselves ordered to achieve victory despite having been a distant second in the resupply effort for the past month. If anything, the fact that they managed to push as far south as they did under the circumstances was more a testament to their adaptability and resourcefulness rather than any sort of strategic genius on Saddam Hussein’s part. As it was, the western force had the dubious honor of enjoying the longest exposed supply line of their forces in Saudi Arabia as they consolidated for a push on Al Majmaah. With regular attacks from the air fraying everyone’s nerves and SAM defenses only succeeding in shooting down 2 allied planes, the column was feeling increasingly isolated as it camped on its stretch of dusty highway.

In a grim retread of the losses of Al Jubayl and Al Shuqaiq, the fall of Dhahran removed the final major desalinization plant on the eastern Saudi coast and cut off the water supply for the Al Hofuf area. Local wells were already far overwhelmed by local needs and unlike Riyadh there were few local aquifers that the populace could turn to. It now fell to CENTCOM to bridge the gap and keep the area hydrated, a task it was able to achieve only after instituting water rationing for the area and limiting the daily water intake for its ground troops. Qatar was able to make up most of the difference by increasing the output of its own desalinization plants, and long convoys of tanker trucks carrying water for distribution became a common sight on the southern highways. In spite of this, there was a large amount of simmering unrest among the population of Al Hofuf who blamed the Americans for the current hardships. While not actively hostile, there was little doubt that the locals wanted the Americans gone at the earliest opportunity.

As CENTCOM settled into its new headquarters in Doha, the allies were finally able to start taking stock of what had been lost with Dhahran. The loss of the port facility had been a major blow to the reinforcement effort with planners estimating a possible counter-offensive taking place no earlier than August 1991. With the Iraqi advance mostly stalled in front of Buqayq and advancing only with heavy casualties, it appeared that the allies would be able to maintain their toehold over eastern Saudi Arabia and keep Qatar secure. Additional units could be brought in through Doha and Abu Dhabi in the UAE, and air squadrons were regaining combat readiness at a satisfying rate. While there had been some losses of equipment and vehicles during the pullout, the vast majority of the allied force and in particular the supply units had survived the offensive intact. If anything, the timing of the Iraqi offensive had been almost fortuitous in that it had taken place before the various supply dumps and logistics hubs could be properly built up. If the attack had occurred as per its original timetable it would possibly have captured enough material to delay a major counterstrike until the late fall of 1991. Of course, such an attack would have faced significantly more allied troops, so such speculation is no more than that. There is even a school of thought that actually credits Yemen for its closure of the Bab el Mendab, claiming that the blockade helped prevent many of the supply convoys from reaching eastern Saudi Arabia before the second Iraqi offensive and thus prevented desperately needed supplies from falling into enemy hands. The theory, while interesting at first glance, fails to take into account that aside from the prepositioned stocks in Diego Garcia, most of the supplies had to be brought in from bases in the United States and the initial wave was only just beginning to reach the Suez Canal when Icebreaker successfully concluded. As a result, the ground forces noticed very little difference in their supply situation after March 28.

On the other hand, several weeks’ worth of work building up munitions for the air squadrons had been lost when Dhahran fell. Since the city’s airfields had served as the primary hub for the ground attack fighters, the close support squadrons felt the pinch most badly and had to scale back their missions as a result. The A-10s of the 23rd Tactical Wing, now flying out of new facilities in Doha, reported on April 2 that they only had enough stocks to conduct four more days of combat missions at reduced levels. Part of the problem lay in that the allies had been unable to save some 37% of total war stocks in the Dhahran area (including nearly a hundred of the precious smart bombs), and those that had made it out in the convoy were now being frantically sorted and reorganized to send on to the new airfields. In sum, the supply situation for the air units would be an absolute mess with tangles and bottlenecks lasting until mid-April before finally getting things under control. Thankfully, the shortages did not apply to the heavy bombing squadrons based out of Egypt and Diego Garcia. Attack runs by B-52s enjoyed great success in disrupting the deployment of follow-up forces in the Iraqi offensive and stalled an attempt by the Al Abed Infantry Division to move south and take over occupation duties in the Dhahran area, though a single Stratofortress was shot down on April 2, the first combat loss for the bomber since the Vietnam War.

April 2 brought a new phase in the Saudi succession crisis with the first organized offensive between the factions. While limited clashes between small groups had been commonplace ever since March 20, the Battle of the Grand Mosque had been the largest and most public in what had mostly been disorganized street battles employing improvised weaponry. Interestingly, it proved to be Prince Nayef’s New Ihkwan that made the first move when the newly formed 3rd Infantry Battalion (Unity) attacked pro-Sultan units in Medina with the intention of seizing the Mosque of the Prophet. Despite having access to several towed howitzers, the New Ihkwan forces were eager to avoid a repeat of the debacle at the Grand Mosque and went into the attack with only light support from armored cars. Because of this, Nayef’s forces took heavy casualties in the face of heavier and entrenched firepower and were only able to break through after several hours of repeated assaults in the northern neighborhoods. Observers noted with much concern that it had been the attack of several suicide bombers that had thrown themselves onto enemy vehicles that had finally turned the tide in the New Ihkwan’s favor, a tactic that would see increasing use in battles between Nayef’s forces and the other two factions. With pro-Sultan forces falling back after concerted pushes in the Al Masani and Bani Dhafar neighborhoods that evening, the New Ihkwan was in control of the inner city by April 3, though remnants of the defensive effort continued to battle for control of the southern neighborhoods of Medina throughout the day before grudgingly scattering into the hills to the south.

The fall of Medina spurred Prince Mansour’s efforts to consolidate his position and secure his strip of territory in western Saudi Arabia. Religious fanaticism had been a growing problem for the kingdom over the last decade and now it seemed that Prince Nayef had tapped a particularly rich vein of potential manpower to augment his military and was arming it with all due haste. Facing threats from three directions and the Red Sea to his back, Mansour’s only hope lay in cultivating support from Egypt and working to turn his opponents to his favor or against one another. Swallowing his pride, negotiations for a cease-fire with Yemen successfully concluded on April 4 as each side promised to respect the current battle lines in the south as zones of control until a more permanent settlement could be reached. While it was viewed as a betrayal of his earlier promise to fight until Saudi Arabia was in full control of its territory again, the move freed his forces on the southern front to redeploy in response to the growing buildup of New Ihkwan forces in Medina and Zalim. Much more secretive negotiations through back-door channels with Jordan were bearing similar fruit and King Hussein had been surprisingly receptive to the possibility of Jordanian and pro-Mansour forces working in partnership much as he was currently doing with Egypt. With the southern front secure and the northern coast well on its way to follow suit, only the long and porous border between himself and Prince Nayef was left to fret over. In spite of the sacrifices and compromises to his stated cause, the hurried diplomacy paid off on April 5 when the equivalent of 2 brigades of pro-Mansour mechanized infantry moved to block several probing attacks by New Ihkwan units advancing west along Highways 60 and 40. Consisting primarily of light infantry and militia employing technicals and several dozen armored vehicles, they were part of a larger offensive as Nayef’s forces spread out from the Saudi interior to try and unite what was left of the kingdom by any means necessary.
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Old September 5th, 2013, 11:00 PM
Alternate History Geek Alternate History Geek is offline
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Can we have a new map when you have time?
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Old September 6th, 2013, 02:51 AM
Matt Wiser Matt Wiser is online now
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Good installment: and may the time from this to next not be as long as you think.
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Old September 6th, 2013, 05:12 AM
Orville_third Orville_third is offline
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KKMC was where the F-117s were planned to be at, right?
As for the smart bombs, the Soviets might get one or two...
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Old September 6th, 2013, 05:23 PM
jimmygreen2002 jimmygreen2002 is offline
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KKMC was where the F-117s were planned to be at, right?
I might be wrong on this, but I think KKMC - King Khalid Military City - is up in the northeast near Kuwait. While King Khalid Air Base is at Khamis Mushayt down in the southwest (near Yemen) and the F-117's flew from there in OTL Gulf War.
Two military facilities are almost named the same, but different and on opposite side of the country.
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Old September 6th, 2013, 05:49 PM
Plumber Plumber is online now
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Solid update! Interested in what ultimately happens in Hejaz between Mansour and the Hashemites...
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Old September 6th, 2013, 06:02 PM
traveller76 traveller76 is offline
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Oil

With the Civil War and the extended fighting in Saudi I could see many oil producing countries reopening mothballed oil facilities or expanding production. You also would see oil importers working out new contracts from non Mid east producers such as Venezuela and Nigeria. This might give the Soviets enough hard currentcy to improve the economy.
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Old September 6th, 2013, 06:25 PM
marcus_aurelius marcus_aurelius is offline
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As for the smart bombs, the Soviets might get one or two...
Nah, I think AFCENT would have destroyed all the stocks they couldn't take with them, and let's be honest, it's not that hard to destroy a bomb...

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Old September 7th, 2013, 12:19 PM
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I think I guess which Boris is talking (obviously not Yeltsin!) and if this is the right Boris, then Gorachev may be on the way out sooner than OTL...
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  #378  
Old September 7th, 2013, 04:29 PM
Dathi THorfinnsson Dathi THorfinnsson is online now
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I think I guess which Boris is talking (obviously not Yeltsin!) and if this is the right Boris, then Gorachev may be on the way out sooner than OTL...
Or it COULD be a standard generic Russian name....
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  #379  
Old September 7th, 2013, 05:15 PM
NeoDesperado NeoDesperado is offline
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Can we have a new map when you have time?
Sure thing, I'll work on putting together an updated version of the March 26 map. Google Maps has been absolutely invaluable to refer to while plotting updates.

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Good installment: and may the time from this to next not be as long as you think.
Here's hoping, and thank you!

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Originally Posted by Orville_third View Post
KKMC was where the F-117s were planned to be at, right?
As for the smart bombs, the Soviets might get one or two...
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Originally Posted by jimmygreen2002 View Post
I might be wrong on this, but I think KKMC - King Khalid Military City - is up in the northeast near Kuwait. While King Khalid Air Base is at Khamis Mushayt down in the southwest (near Yemen) and the F-117's flew from there in OTL Gulf War.
Two military facilities are almost named the same, but different and on opposite side of the country.
The 37th TFW was deployed to Al Kharj ITTL since both KKMC and Dhahran were uncomfortably close to the front lines and Khamis Mushayt is now occupied territory. Their area is somewhat more stable than Riyadh and at the moment it's the last airbase in Saudi Arabia seeing (limited) use by the Air Force. Given concerns over the civil war however, CENTCOM plans to shuffle them to the UAE in the very near future.

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Solid update! Interested in what ultimately happens in Hejaz between Mansour and the Hashemites...
Nayef's bid to expand his power base has met a very strong response from the religious right in central Saudi Arabia and whatever his original intentions were, things are quickly spinning out of control and he's now forced to ride the wave as best he can. It's rapidly becoming a threat on the level of Iraq and Yemen and the various parties on the western coast are realizing that they need to do something about it, and quickly.

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Originally Posted by traveller76 View Post
With the Civil War and the extended fighting in Saudi I could see many oil producing countries reopening mothballed oil facilities or expanding production. You also would see oil importers working out new contracts from non Mid east producers such as Venezuela and Nigeria. This might give the Soviets enough hard currency to improve the economy.
Exactly right. Several oil-producing nations outside of the Middle East have already started ramping up their output to stabilize prices, but it's very much a seller's market. As we're seeing, the USSR is gleefully taking full advantage of this.

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Nah, I think AFCENT would have destroyed all the stocks they couldn't take with them, and let's be honest, it's not that hard to destroy a bomb...

Marc A
Right, whatever they couldn't get out of Dhahran was sabotaged as best they could. The Iraqis aren't going to be finding much of use as they settle into their new digs.

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I think I guess which Boris is talking (obviously not Yeltsin!) and if this is the right Boris, then Gorachev may be on the way out sooner than OTL...
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Originally Posted by Dathi THorfinnsson View Post
Or it COULD be a standard generic Russian name....
It sounds like Archibald's on the right track for those speaking; I decided to keep it simple and stick with OTL culprits for the meeting's attendees.
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Lines in the Sand: A History of the Gulf War

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  #380  
Old September 7th, 2013, 08:23 PM
Iñaki Iñaki is offline
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Originally posted by NeoDesperado
Quote: Originally Posted by Archibald
I think I guess which Boris is talking (obviously not Yeltsin!) and if this is the right Boris, then Gorachev may be on the way out sooner than OTL...

Quote: Originally Posted by Dathi THorfinnsson
Or it COULD be a standard generic Russian name....

It sounds like Archibald's on the right track for those speaking; I decided to keep it simple and stick with OTL culprits for the meeting's attendees.
I suppose Boris Pugo, and I think Dimitry should probably be Dimitry Yazov.

Very interesting TL. Subscribed
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