The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions." --American Statesman Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

20 Anniversary of Desert Storm

it has been 20 years since Desert Storm, it has been 20 years since the world changed...some say for a new world order.  The Soviet Union was collapsing, Germany was 1 nation again, not 2 facing across across mines and barbed wire.  I was stationed in Germany when unification happened.  I had spent several years patrolling the border between West Germany and the warsaw pact http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warsaw_pact. 
    I saw how the other side lived, I had gone to Berlin in 1987 to do a 90 day tour with the brigade there, I went to east Berlin in my class A uniform.(Berlin was governed by the 4 powers, a holdover from WWII, it was the Americans, British, French and the Russians)    West Berlin was a 24 hour party, she was alive and humming, East Berlin was somber, dour and even though I saw scaffolding everywhere, I still saw the bulletholes in the wall and statue's from when the Russian armies crashed into the city in April of 45 and had to take the city block by block.   I remember walking by 10 story building with colorful murals on the wall at the top, I noticed the cameras on the corners monitoring the population, then I saw a panel move from the mural and a guy with a camera that was mounted on what appeared to be a rifle stock, he aimed the camera, take some pictures and go back inside.  I was stunned to see such a thing.  It again reminded me that east germany was controlled by a police state and the populace was kept in line by the STASI http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stasi the dreaded secret police.  Seeing such things makes you appreciate the freedoms that we have and many people take for granted.  Seeing the unification happen on AFN while we were confined to barracks to prevent a possible incident from the soviets during this time.  We were glad to see the wall fall and the joy of the German people was a palpable thing.
 After things settled down and the chain of command realized that the Soviets were not going to interfere with the reunification process. we were allowed to travel in West Germany only.  I got used to seeing the Trabbis's
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trabant puttering on the autobahns.  They were packed with East Germans coming over to the west to see how the west lived.  They were amazed at the luxuries that the West Germans had and took for granted.

Saddam Hussain http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saddam_Hussein  had the bad luck of invading Kuwait right after the wall fell and there was a huge American army in Europe that had no enemy to face as the Russians were starting to pull back out of Eastern Europe.  Saddam had just fought the Iranians in a 8 year old war that generated millions of casualties on the scale of WWI.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran%E2%80%93Iraq_War     and bankrupted his country with most of the money owed to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
      We were watching the invasion through AFN in the barracks and heard rumors of us being sent to the Gulf.  We didn't get the actual deployment orders until veterans day 1990.  We drove our vehicles to a depot near Frankfurt Germany, where the equipment would get loaded on trains to get shipped out of Bremerhaven.  This was billed as a reverse REFORGER http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/REFORGER 
We left Germany on a C5A for Dammon Saudi Arabia.  We left Germany that had the best ski weather in a generation to the chagrin of the ski bums in my unit.  We got to Dammon and it was 72 degrees and sunny.  Talk about a shock.  Seeing the middle east for the first time, it was totally different than Europe or the States.  We still had our green BDU's.  We didn't get the popular chocochip pattern DCU's until the war was over.  You would tell a soldier from Germany from one from the states, they had the desert uniform
and we had the BDU's  Even our equipment was all forest green, we didn't have a chance to paint them before we got deployed. 

   We were told much later that we were feared by the Iraqi's because we had defeated their trainers,the Soviets in Europe.  I don't know if that was true,.but it did make us feel better.  We kept hoping that the Iraqi's would pull out of Kuwait and we wouldn't have to attack them, we are soldiers and will do our jobs, we were well trained, but we were told that there would be a lot of casualties because Saddam likes to use chemical weapons and mass wave attacks.  Life is less valued over there than to a western based society, we will use technology and firepower rather than mass wave attacks.  But the Iraqi's were trained by the soviets, and we wern't sure that the air-land battle concept would actually work.  We had gamed it many times but there is no substitute for practical use.   I am a student of history and I knew that the Iraqi's use mass attacks....that is what they used against the Iranians, so I had an older e-tool, the kind with a wooden handle.  I put a sharp edge on it in case I had to hack somebody with it.   Like I said, we were facing the unknown and didn't know what to expect. 
      After we got to our holding areas at Dammon, we waited for our equipment to arrive by ship so we could go assemble at the marshalling point.  We drank a lot of water and trained hard in an NBC environment.  We had to deal with the occasional SCUD alert while we were there.    Christmas time there was very depressing, we got together with other units and groups of soldiers would walk around and sing Christmas carols.  For some reason the slower ones were more popular, especially "Silent night"

     I will post more tomorrow, I have to organize my thoughts.

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