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The eye of the storm.

DHAHRAN, KHAFJI, Jubail, Riyadh - these cities became part of every citizen's geographical lexicon in early August 1990, when allied forces began converging in the Saudi Arabian sand. Participants in Desert Shield, a unique coalition of Western and Arab armies financed by countries around the world, rose up to defend tiny Kuwait from aggression by its northern neighbor, Iraq.

While the world watched the drama evolve over the next seven months, the allied forces reached a peak strength of some 500,000 men and women. Desert Shield became Desert Storm as allied air and ground forces moved in to liberate a beleaguered Kuwait.

Included among the US soldiers was a large contingent of reservists from all branches of the US military. Among the reservists called to active status in the US Army were two men well-known to ASIS members - Major Charles H. (Sandy) Davidson IV (ASIS Foundation staff director) and Colonel Michael W. Beasley (partner in the law firm Berliner, Corcoran & Rowe and frequent speaker at ASIS educational programs).

The eyewitness accounts of these career army reservists provide a fascinating microcosm of security stretched to its international limits. In interviews with Security Management, Davidson and Beasley discuss their roles in the conflict and the reconstruction of Kuwait City.

The dialogue will be presented in two parts. Part one chronicles how Davidson and Beasley became involved in the conflict, what they experienced in the weeks just prior to the start of the ground war, and their responsibilities once the conflict began.

Part two, which will be published in the October issue of Security Management, focuses on the reconstruction of Kuwait City and the experiences and opinions of the two men as they watched the military, security, and civilian sagas unfold.

MAJOR CHARLES H. (SANDY) DAVIDSON IV JOINED the army in 1970 and served three years on active duty. Following his discharge, Davidson immediately joined the army reserves because he missed being in the regular army and found the reserves filled that void.

Now in his 21st year of military service, Davidson has spent several years as a reservist in the infantry, serving in operations and command positions with the 80th Training Division.

Four years ago, Davidson entered the special operations field through psychological operations, where he served as a tactical intelligence officer, a strategic intelligence officer, and then a psychological operations officer with the 305th research and analysis company of the army's 5th Psychological Operations (Psyop) Group.

In addition to psychological operations, special operations includes special forces and civil affairs. When the 352nd Civil Affairs Command was mobilized, Davidson was selected to fill a slot vacated when some members of that unit failed to meet the rigorous physical training and performance requirements necessary for those special operations troops participating in Desert Storm. To fill its personnel needs, the 352nd Civil Affairs Command turned to people currently in sister special operations units, and Davidson was selected from the 5th Psyop group.

Davidson was an especially strong candidate because he had served as a unit advisor to a Saudi Arabian army battalion in Saudi Arabia while on active duty in 1972. During that time, he acquired an appreciation of the Islamic culture and a smattering of Arabic. Additionally, his background in both infantry and a special operations played a role in his selection.

A small advance party of the 352nd moved into Saudi Arabia in November 1990, but the main body of the unit went in early February. Davidson was with that second group of around 100 persons.

Why was the 352nd Civil Affairs Command mobilized?

Davidson: While the air war had been in progress since mid-January, it was obvious to military strategists that a ground war was inevitable. As a result, certain assets and resources had to be in place, and personnel had to have time to train up to the situation. We needed to become acclimated to the conditions and the scenario for warfare that was being developed by the central command.

How did you get to Saudi Arabia and where did you land?

Davidson: We left from Dover, DE, on a C5A, stopped in Frankfurt, Germany, en route, and then landed in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, which was the principal port of embarkation for US troops coming in country. The Dhahran air base was a spectacular vignette of the war itself. It presented a sudden and lasting image of the magnitude of the logistics needed to support an army in theater.

That view crystalized for me when I walked off that aircraft. The C5A is the biggest aircraft in the air force inventory, and, along with C141s and C130s, the runways were thick with them. On runways perpendicular to those of the inbound passenger aircraft, tactical aircraft used for bombing runs in Kuwait and southern Iraq were taking off in fairly rapid sequence - splits of one or two minutes - in triples or pairs. They were very audible; it was a pretty startling picture.

Did you stay in Dhahran?

Davidson: No. We went almost immediately to Jubail, where we were quartered in a compound that had been designed for third country national oil field workers. It was ideal for a small unit because it had a substantial perimeter wall as well as housing and mess facilities for probably a battalion of troops.

Several other units were there as well. The billets were similar to small troop barracks in this country, which was comforting since we had been thrust abruptly into a foreign culture.

Almost immediately, we were given instructions on how to respond to an alarm for a Scud attack. We were told to go to the hallway in the center of the building to prevent injury from glass or debris. Of course, the real threat from a Scud was not just the explosion but its ability to deliver a chemical warhead. So we were also instructed to put on our gas masks.

The first night we heard the siren at 2:00 am. My roommate and I thought we had best play the game, so we put on our gas masks and sat in the hall with the others. It seemed, for all practical purposes, like just another annual reserve training exercise.

Because of the heat, keeping the mask on for long periods was quite uncomfortable, and after 15 or 20 minutes I was tempted to take it off. Just then, there was a violent explosion above us as the Scud erupted. We assumed it had been intercepted by a Patriot missile. Later we learned that the batteries in Jubail did not fire that night, and that particular Scud, for some inexplicable reason, just exploded in the sky. It obviously had not been carrying any chemical warheads.

That incident underscored for me the seriousness of the situation. It was very surrealistic. In all candor, until that point the trip had seemed like another annual training or command post exercise. But that first night the reality of the situation started to get more personal.

What were your assignments when you were in Jubail?

Davidson: Jubail was a staging area for the Combined Civil Affairs Task Force (CCATF) headed by Brigadier General Howard Mooney, which included the 352nd Civil Affairs Command. Our most important role would be in the liberation of Kuwait, during the initial combat phase and then during a post-combat phase once we reached our objective, which was Kuwait City.

My assignment at this initial phase was unusual. I was the deputy chief of the coalition warfare branch of CCTAF, which meant I was a civil affairs liaison officer to the Islamic units that comprised the Eastern Area Command.

The command was made up of a division of the Saudi Arabian army augmented by a brigade of the Saudi Arabian national guard plus soldiers from all the participating Islamic countries save Egypt and Syria. Their forces were in the West serving adjacent to the 7th Corps.

The Islamic division was large - 20,000 men - commanded by Major General Suhail, who was Saudi Arabian. I was stationed with the Saudi division headquarters command to be the liaison officer back to CCATF.

Did you move out of Jubail at that point?

Davidson: Yes. I was immediately sent to join about 100 American staff advisers to the Saudi division in Khafji, a small provincial coastal city close to the Kuwaiti border.

Khafji was the staging area for the Eastern Area Command. It was also where the first battle of the operation had been fought in January between Saudi land forces and an invading Iraqi force. In that battle, the Saudis impressed the world by soundly routing an effectively armed and equipped Iraqi force.

Were they really effectively armed and equipped?

Davidson: Oh yes. The Iraqis came in with good equipment in that incursion. They were tactically out-thought and out-fought, however. The Saudis did a commendable job defending Khafji and destroying the Iraqi invasion force in place. That was a real confidence builder for the Saudis. The world stood up and took notice; certainly the Iraqis did.

Was it about the third week of February when you went on to Khafji?

Davidson: Yes. The Islamic division command - which, in addition to Saudis, included Kuwaitis, Omanis, Bahrainians, Qatars, and troops from the United Arab Emirates - was headquartered in a school compound in Khafji.

The living conditions were harsh, but durable. We had shelter against the rain and cold as well as bottled water, but we didn't have running water, electricity, or heat. We couldn't have outside fires because of the light restrictions for security purposes. So we ate cold MREs (meals ready to eat) for every meal. While we couldn't bathe, we all shaved to prevent having any beard growth that would inhibit the seal of the gas masks.

The American advisers were a fairly small group, mainly special forces teams; staff performing intelligence, operations, and logistics functions; air and naval gunnery liaison teams; and air force spotters. It was an ad hoc arrangement headed by a US colonel.

We certainly weren't there to manage the Saudis but to assist General Suhail, who had requested management aid. He suddenly had a huge division to command - 20,000 men representing different Islamic cultures and a variety of egos and command relationships.

What about the language issue? It sounds like a communications nightmare.

Davidson: It really wasn't. Everybody spoke English. I'm sure when it came down to fire commands Islamic was used in some of the units, but we never felt we lost communication or the ability to assist the division commander because of language. Virtually all of the Saudi, Kuwaiti, and other Islamic officers spoke English.

While my Arabic is rudimentary at best, it did help develop a bond. The Americans' knowledge of Arabic was generally limited to expressions and idioms that let our counterparts know we were seriously interested in their culture and wanted to learn and understand.

And the mission never suffered because of a perceived language barrier. I think that's another compliment to the breadth and capability of the Saudi Arabian Army. Their personnel were culturally well prepared to accept allied involvement.

How long was it between your arrival in Khafji and the start of the ground war?

Davidson: About a week. Everything moved quickly during those days. Intelligence data was coming to us regarding the air war in the north, and battlefield intelligence assessments (BIAs) and damage assessments (DAs) allowed us to build an intelligence picture of what was in front of our sector.

We also had intelligence analyses from Allied Central Command, which was in Riyadh. It was fascinating to watch the intelligence mosaic come together and be tracked on acetate map overlays around the command support center.

Were you aware of what was happening internationally during that week?

Davidson: We didn't know much about anything outside of our sphere of influence. We focused on the mission. One fellow had a radio, but we were not glued to it to hear the news. Our mission was clear: prepare to advance along a designated axis to a predetermined objective - Kuwait City.

When did you know that February 24th was going to be the day of the attack?

Davidson: None of us knew until about 10 hours before the invasion. We all felt the attack was imminent; the atmosphere was pregnant with anticipation. That's what we were there for, and we were ready to get started.

Didn't the ground war begin in the morning?

Davidson: Yes, we learned the night before, which was a very reflective and eerie night for me. Khafji had been blacked out, and the civilian population had long since been evacuated.

There was an omnipresent canopy of oil smoke over the area that created an unusual if not surreal atmosphere. Most of the time everything was gray. If the wind patterns were just right, it was incredibly dark - as if you were under an eclipse.

The air was filled with a thick, oily fog. The oil cloud retained moisture, which caused rain. Coastal rains are not uncommon at that time of year, anyway, so it was wet, dark, and cold - especially at night.

In addition, the battleship Wisconsin was firing across our front on what we presumed to be Iraqi bunkers and other tactical targets on the border. We assumed the navy was preparing the battlefield along the axis of the invasion route.

The detonation of those 16-inch guns makes quite a percussion when the 2,000-pound projectiles pass that close to you. It must have been traumatizing for the target audience.

Then there were air attacks to the north of us, and if the climatic conditions were suitable, you could see a pulsating orange glow and hear a low rumble. This occurred with such frequency that we couldn't attribute the cause to naval gunfire, so we knew the enemy was being exposed to quite a battlefield preparation.

Did it also make you feel like the Iraqis knew you were coming from that direction?

Davidson: I don't think there was any guesswork about that. The Iraqis certainly knew we would invade from the southeast. But then they also believed we were going to have a marine amphibious landing from the east. This plan was well chronicled by the media and seemed to be a highly feasible course of action any strategist would accept. But, of course, it was a ruse.

How did you assess your personal safety?

Davidson: We were all very threat conscious and well briefed as to the capabilities of the enemy forces. I believed the Iraqis would use chemical weapons. And I thought if they were going to use them, they would do it against Islamic forces. That conclusion seemed to make the Eastern Area Command, the unit I was with, the ideal choice in my estimation.

My views do not reflect a consensus of the intelligence community at a local, tactical, or strategic level, However, I did not believe the Iraqis would use chemical weapons against American troops. The Egyptian and Syrian forces in the west were sandwiched between the US 7th Corps and British and French forces, which also made them an improbable target in my estimation.

But the Eastern Area Command seemed a likely target. The humid cloud canopy would hold down the chemical agent, which would keep it close to the ground for maximum effect against the intended target. The predominantly westerly winds would clear the agent out to sea so it would not bleed into other echelons on the battlefield.

In addition, the Kuwaiti brigade was part of this Islamic force. The Iraqis were particularly angry with the Saudis, who were also well represented in the ranks. For all these reasons I was convinced that chemical warfare would be used against the Eastern Area Command.

How did the advance begin?

Davidson: We knew the invasion was going to take place at 4:30 am. An assault brigade was in front, and then I moved out at about 7:00 am with the division headquarters unit.

Actually, it was anticlimactic. We just hopped into our vehicles with our flak jackets on and with our weapons and gear and headed north.

Were you wearing gas masks?

Davidson: We were told to, but none of us did. They were such an encumbrance. But we had them at the ready.

Did the environmental conditions become worse?

Davidson: Living conditions plummeted right after the attack. The food was the same - cold MREs - but we no longer had shelter from the elements.

As you traveled on the road north, how often did you pause to assess what was happening ahead of you?

Davidson: We traveled at a surprisingly steady pace. The Kuwaiti brigade was in the lead, and that unit was very eager to have the honor of being the first unit in to free the city.

An incredible amount of materiel was strewn on the road because the Iraqi front more or less collapsed, and they began retreating to the north, or certainly getting themselves out of harm's way.

The road was in terrible shape, because it had been the concentrated killing ground for the air force in its efforts against the Iraqi armor. So a great deal of war damage had occurred - cratering, ruptured pavement - and a tremendous number of bombed out, burned out, and shattered vehicles had been left behind.

Many were armored vehicles, along with an extraordinary number of trucks. All it takes is one 30-caliber cannon round from the nose of an A10 warthog and a truck is finished.

Was your advance supported by air bombardments?

Davidson: We knew aircraft were flying overhead because we could hear the scream of the engines, but the cloud canopy was so low that we couldn't see them.

Intelligence reports processed later indicated that a sizable Iraqi armor force of almost divisional size was marshaling farther north for a counterattack against our lead elements.

If that attack had succeeded, it could have profoundly retarded our advance. But apparently the movement was spotted and the air force got under the cloud cover and really tore that force to pieces. And that broke the back of any effective concentrated resistance.

Was the terrain basically desert?

Davidson: The terrain reminded me of west Texas - same kinf of vegetation and undulating appearance. While it was basically desert, you could traverse it. The crust was hard and firm and could support an armored vehicle.

But it wasn't necessary to move off the highway because the road system, in both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, resembled the US interstate system, with broad, well-maintained aprons. We were traveling on a four-lane highway that was an exact model of what we have in the United States.

In this instance, all four lanes were filled with a tremendous number of allied military vehicles heading north, but the excellent traveling conditions did not last for long. The Iraqis had obviously realized we would seek the path of least resistance for troop movement and had used something like a railroad tie splitter to tear up the pavement in an attempt to slow down the initial invasion. Actually, we just blew through that.

The tanks in the lead elements were fitted with big plow-like devices that were created for penetrating earthen berms and eliminating mines. They just pushed the vehicular carnage out of the way.

If fully loaded, the destroyed Iraqi armored vehicles would have been quite heavy. But all the on-board ammunition, fuel, passengers, and gear had been consumed by fire so they were fairly light and could be pushed aside.

How long did it take to get to Kuwait City?

Davidson: It took about three and a half days to go the 75 miles between Khafji and Kuwait City. We approached Kuwait City from the east. The Islamic forces I was with were among the first to enter and secure the city.

Where were you when the cease-fire was called?

Davidson: We were south of Kuwait City in the vicinity of Mina Sa'ud. We had paused, but nobody really knew why we had stopped. Then we were told a cease-fire had been declared. I think all of us thought that the cease-fire was just a 24- to 48- hour phenomenon and that we would press on. But surprisingly it was permanent. After about a half day, we pushed on to Kuwait City.

There still were pockets of resistance, however. One of the reasons we had such a spectacular showing in the war was that Iraqi communications were totally fragmented and rendered inert through frequency jamming and constant bombardment. As a result, it took awhile for word of the cease-fire to be circulated among the Iraqi forces.

Were the remaining Iraqi soldiers you saw surrendering?

Davidson: We didn't really see that many Iraqi soldiers. Inordinate amounts of materiel were everywhere, but the Iraqi soldiers we saw were scared to death, totally disheveled, wet, cold, hungry, without arms, and plainly and eargerly surrendering. They were basically directed to keep moving south.

Nobody wanted to be in the POW business, particularly the Americans. Setting up POW camps was a Saudi function, and surrendering troops were quickly bound over under all circumstances to Saudi hands.

So we saw soldiers surrendering, but it was not the image from old newsreels of retreating troops on the Russian front in World War II. They were more in isolated little knots, which appears to be pretty much how they had been left on that eastern line.

Upon reflection that largely seems to have been the signature of how the Iraqi junior officers and troops were managed and how they reacted at the company level. They did not seem to be ready to defend in depth. Strength was way down. Some units appeared to have been at about 30 to 40 percent strength due to desertions and casualties because of the air attacks.

The total lack of communication and leadership caused a complete collapse of effectiveness and morale. This was exacerbated by the proven predilection of the Iraqi senior officers to literally run away from the battlefield and just leave their troops. That, of course, had quite a negative effect.

COLONEL MICHAEL W. BEASLEY HAS served with the United States Army for 23 years. He joined after high school and spent seven years on active duty. During that time he served in Italy and Vietnam, where he commanded a field artillery battery that saw intensive combat for more than six months in the Ashau valley. Following Vietnam, Beasley was stationed for three years at Fort Hood, TX, where he completed his active duty career in other command and staff assignments.

Beasley left active duty and joined the reserves in 1974, when he returned to Washington, DC. He attended Georgetown University, where he obtained a master of science in foreign service and a juris doctorate in international law.

He continued his interest in the reserves through law school and received a series of assignments through the 97th Army Reserve Command (ARCOM) at Fort Meade, MD. The 97th is the second-largest reserve element in the United States, with 12,000 people in 130 units.

While with the 97th, Beasley served as plans and mobilization officer and deputy inspector general. Between 1982 and 1987, he moved to special operations and served as logistics officer in the 5th Psychological Operations Group and as battalion commander of the 7th Psychological Operations Battalion. Subsequently he held various logistics and training positions with both civil affairs and the ARCOM headquarters.

In 1989, Beasley returned to active duty and attended the Army War College in Carlisle, PA. Upon completion of those courses, Beasley rejoined his reserve unit and became the deputy chief of staff for logistics for the 97th Army Reserve Command, the position he holds currently. In this part-time position, Beasley supervises 110 full-time employees and 40 reservists.

Beasley watched with some envy, he admits, while his former reserve unit, the 352nd Civil Affairs Command, was mobilized and deployed to the Middle East in early 1991.

During the second week of February, however, Beasley received a call from his former command, emphasizing that the civil affairs community in Saudi Arabia needed a director of logistics who also had current security clearances at the highest level and knowledge of international law. Beasley's army and civilian credentials clearly fit the description.

Beasley received permission to leave his current position within the ARCOM and take a temporary assignment with civil affairs. The special operations community expedited his preparation for mobilization through Fort Bragg, and in a matter of hours he was on his way to Saudi Arabia.

When you left, how long did you anticipate you would be gone?

Beasley: About two months. By mid to late February, I think everyone, at least on this side of the Atlantic, felt the ground was phase of the conflict was imminent. When that happened, absent some unknown factor such as chemical weapons or unexpected resoluteness on the part of the Iraqi soldiers, we anticipated the ground war to be quick.

I expected to go into Kuwait with the civil affairs task force, quickly work out emergency services during reconstruction, and leave. With that scenario in mind, I flew off on sort of a one-man mission to join up with the civil affairs task force.

How did you actually get to Saudi Arabia?

Beasley: I took the first military plane headed to the Middle East. We stopped at Torrajon Air Force Base in Spain, where the C5 I was on broke down. I ended up hopping a special operations mission into Saudi Arabia on February 24th, the first day of the ground war. I landed in Dhahran amid sirens for a Scud attack and was groveling in the sand about three minutes after touchdown.

Were you aware of the international negotiations taking place at the time?

Beasley: I think General Schwarzkopf's timing of the ground was was a decision made by General Powell, General Schwarzkopf, President Bush, and Secretary Cheney based on what were the optimal conditions for the counterattack. Clearly the world environment anticipated such an attack, since the air war had been in progress for about six weeks.

I heard about the attack just after arriving in Saudi Arabia, and I was not surprised by its timing. Neither were too many others. We all anticipated that the order would come in late February or at the latest early March.

What was your assignment once you arrived?

Beasley: I joined the 352nd Civil Affairs Command in Jubail. My job was to head up the logistics effort for the combined civil affairs task force. As soon as I arrived, I focused on receiving and marshaling emergency supplies, which had been purchased by the Kuwaitis and were coming into Saudi Arabia, and on organizing the movement of these supplies on to Kuwait.

I needed to find out as much as I could about the work of the Kuwait Task Force, a group of American civil affairs officers who had been working with the Kuwaiti government in exile to procure supplies that would be needed in the reconstruction.

Subsequently, on February 28, the day the cease-fire was declared, I began moving north from Jubail in a 240-vehicle emergency convoy headed for Kuwait City. Because I was directing logistics, transportation fell within my responsibilities. As a result, I was convoy commander and rode in the first convoy vehicle.

How did you get the word about the ceasefire?

Beasley: I can't recall if we heard rumors that a cease-fire was about to be declared before the convoy left Jubail or if the word came almost simultaneously with the order to get on the road. I do recall that the war technically lasted through February 28, and it was the 28th at noon when we got on the road.

Would you have left even if the cease-fire had not been declared?

Beasley: We were prepared to move on orders from Central Command Headquarters. General Schwarzkopf said "move," so we moved.

In keeping with the civil affairs and special operations mission, we could have been moved into Kuwait City as soon as it was liberated, regardless of progress in the balance of the war. We would have moved in to begin our emergency phase of operations - refugee and humanitarian relief, movement and care of displaced civilians, and long-term reconstruction of Kuwait.

Describe the convoy you commanded.

Beasley: The convoy consisted of trucks and vehicles of every possible description. We had military vehicles, 50 civilian vehicles for operations in Kuwait City, as well as 80 flatbed trucks loaded with food, waterm generator, and medical supplies for provisions. At full strength, the convoy was 8 miles long, and we were on the road for 14 hours before completing the 180 mile-trek to Kuwait City.

How many people were involved?

Beasley: Between 300 and 400 people, including 30 Kuwaiti interpreters who we picked up just an hour or two before we left Saudi Arabia. The interpreters were Kuwaiti citizens who had been students in the United States when the war began and who were going back to Kuwait for the first time.

These interpreters were eager to return but were also filled with trepidation about what they would find. Stories about atrocities and the total devastation of Kuwait City were rampant.

Our element also included approiximately 50 women from civil affairs who were among the first women in the allied military forces to go into Kuwait. And then civilians from Turkey, Egypt, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia driving the flatbeds with emergency relief supplies were part of the motorcade.

Members of the press joined the convoy. Even though I booted them out at every opportunity, they alwasy found some way to rejoin us when I wasn't looking. Brigadier General Howard Mooneey, the combined task force commander, was the senior officer with the convoy. Some lower-level Kuwaiti officials also sought refuge within our convoy for their reentry back into the country.

How did you control communications with

such an assortment of people?

Beasley: American military personnel with radios were stationed at about six or seven positions within the convoy so I could maintain contact with these key points. Everyone spoke English, with the exception of some of flatned truck drivers. But they were actually under the control of a civilian contractor. They joined our convoy basically because they left at the same time.

Was there a rallying point for all the vehicles

in the convoy?

Beasley: Not really - we just all came together on the road. The military contingent left from Jubail, which is about 20 miles north of Dhahran. The flatbed trucks were being loaded with food, water, and medical supplies at the port city of Dammam. They started up the road as we were leaving from Jubail.

So the two convoys merged en route. Every time we stopped, they stopped, and it wasn't difficult for them just to follow us nortward. There was only one road, and the chances of turning off, particularly given the danger, were slim.

How would you describe the atmosphere

on the road north?

Beasly: By dusk on the first day we had arrived in Khafju, which was the southernmost point of Iraqi penetration into Saudi Arabia. About that time, this thick cloud of oil smoke rolled in on us. Within 15 minutes you could only see about 50 yards on either side of the road. For the next seven hours, the trip got more and more bizarre.

We crossed the border into Kuwait about an hour after Khafji and virtually entered an no-man's-land of total devastation. Craters were everywhere as well as smoking and burning vehicles. Allied tanks were going back and forth, and we were literally weaving our way through the rubble.

While we were heading north, the lanes that had been cleared on this fourlane expressway were on the southbound side. The Kuwaiti interpreter with me in the lead car had obviously never been northbound on the southbound side of the highway, and he was totally lost. All the signs were reversed, and he couldn't pick out a single landmark.

We couldn't follow a map because there were no longer any distinguishable features to the landscape, so we had no idea of where we were. It was always a guess as to how many kilometers, how many miles, or how many hours were left until we would hit Kuwait City.

Shortly north of the Kuwaiti border, we started to see some 600 burning oil fires. If the trip hadn't been other-worldly up to then, it became that way now. The fires and thick smoke gave an absolutely indescribable panorama across the entire horizon to the left of our vehicles.

As you moved up the highway, were Iraqi

soldiers still surrendering to you?

Beasley: We didn't encounter any Iraqi soldiers on the road. The US marines and the coalition forces had cleared that road just hours before, and all of the surrendering soldiers had been rounded up by other forces.

Did you experience enemy fire?

Beasley: No direct enemy fire, but there were live mine fields on either side of the highway, basically from the border north. I kept gettings calls from the convoy participants to pull off the road so they could hop out and go to the bathroom. But I thought if we stopped people might go off the road, and someone would get hurt. So we continued north for something like seven hours without a break.

Were you concerned about the threat of

chemical warfare?

Beasley: We all were constantly attuned to the possibility that the Iraqis would either retaliate with a desperate release of chemical weapons or that they would wait until their own troops had evacuated from Kuwait and then launch a chemical attack.

We were also concerned abouth the inadvertent release of chemical explosives through combustions in a storage center or other accidental means. These threats were constantly on our minds. We always carried our protective mask and were close to our protective masks and were close to our protective overgarments. We remained very concerned abouth the chemical threat throughout the time in Saudi Arabia, on the road to Kuwait, and while we were in Kuwait City.

Were you aware of the overall battle plan

at this junture?

Beasley: Not through any publicly available source, although we did watch CNN on occasion and hear news broadcasts along with everyone else. But the overall tactics followed by the coalition forces in the war were pretty well known.

Even as early as the spring of 1990, while I was attending the US Army War College, we had examined a scenario involving a Middle Eastern battle plan. We anticipated that a flanking movement would be the smarters way to defeat Iraq or another enemy in the region.

Armies in the area are most familiar with Soviet battle tactics, whjich basically depend on a secure rear and a frontal defense. Anyone who could go around the rear and attack from behind would have a significant advantage.

Also, in the months after Iraq invaded Kuwait, a lot of military discussions took place outlining prospective tactics, given basically a line defense of Kuwait established by the Iraqis.

We all knew that a frontal assault would cause more casualties than coalition forces were willing to accept. But air superiority and a flanking attack would be the wisest military strategy and result in the fewest casualties.

When the battle unfolded exactly along those lines, I don't think [very] many of the senior officers in any of the military services were surprised - other the Iraqis, that is, who didn't seem to be reading The Washington Post or any of the [rest of the] world press.

Did the entire convoy complete the trip?

Beasley: Yes, although we did experience complications. For example, 12 vehicles broke down en route. All were repaired except one that broke down in Khafji and hasn't been seen to this day. All the people made it, however, and no one was injured.

How would you assess the morale of the

convoy participants?

Beasley: Conditions were harsh. Many people in the convoy, especially the Kuwaiti interpreters, were in semishock, both in response to what they were already seeing and in anticipation of what they would see next.

We were moving into Kuwait City within six to 12 hours after the Iraqis had fled, with many rumors about what we would run into. We anciticipated significant resistance within the city from terrorists, Palestinians, or opposition forces who were reputed to not be happy about the Kuwaiti government coming back to retake the country.

We really didn't know who the enemy was. At the same time, we didn't know what devastation and what personal tragedy wew would find. Everyone was trying to cope with these uncertainties in their own way.

There was also uncertainty about the will of the Iraqi soldiers and the potential use of chemical weapons. The uncertainties were the most frightening part of being we were dealing with, except being reasonably assured that we were dealing with a totally unpredictable foe.

We all suspected, I think rather strongly, that Saddam was a madman. No one knew what he would do, especially facing the total annihilation of his military force. WE knew he had great capabilities, particularly in unconventional warfare, and we were apprehensive about the weapons he might use.

On the other hand, we were totally convince that we could win ultimately; we just didn't know what we would have to go througjh to get there.

The experience of Davidson and Easley coalesced once both men arrived in Kuwait City. In part two of this series, they discuss their specific assignments during reconstruction and reflect on the security concerns apparent during this international conflict.

PHOTO : Remnants of Iraqi armor strewn the road north to Kuwait City.

PHOTO : Kuwaiti, Saudi, and US vehicles transport the Eastern Area Command north to Kuwait City.

PHOTO : A Soviet-made T-72 used by the Kuwaiti Army pauses in the desert sun. Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan (center with canteen) is surrounded by senior officers from the Islamic forces minutes after hearing of the cease fire.

PHOTO : A Kuwaiti interpreter serving with US forces celebrates victory in his own way.

PHOTO : Sandy Davidson surveys the remains of an Iraqi T-64, which was disabled near burning oil fields.

PHOTO : An Iraqi self-propelled howitzer destroyed south of Kuwait City by allied aircraft provides an eerie silhouette in the midst of smoke and destruction.
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Title Annotation:Special Seminar Issue; an interview with Charles H. Davidson IV on the role of security during Operation Desert Storm
Publication:Security Management
Article Type:interview
Date:Sep 1, 1991
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