Chemical-Biological Defense: U.S. Military Policies and Decisions in the Gulf War

By Albert J.Mauroni | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8

After-Action Report

To inquire if and where we made mistakes is not to apologize. War is replete with mistakes because it is full of improvisations. In war we are always doing something for the first time. It would be a miracle if what we improvised under the stress of war should be perfect.

—Vice Admiral Hyman Rickover

In the attempt to identify the lessons learned from a conflict, it must be remembered that every war is unique. The Persian Gulf War had certain unique features, such as six months to deploy and prepare. There was no submarine threat or significant naval surface action. Reinforcements from Germany and the United States did not fear enemy attack en route to Saudi Arabia. Because there was no actual weapons use that stressed the coalition's NBC defense capabilities, it is difficult to identify lessons in that area. Some wonder if the outcome would have been different if Iraq had acquired tactical nuclear weapons earlier, attacked Saudi Arabia in September while only the 82d Airborne Division was in place, possessed a larger arsenal of more sophisticated ballistic missiles, or employed CB weapons in its defense. Not all coalition partners had equal levels of NBC defense preparation. What would have happened if the French or Syrians had refused to advance against Iraqi forces because of large-area CB agent attacks? The result could have been exposed flanks or holes in the coalition lines, potential breach points for counterattacking Iraqis and potential disaster for American forces.

Saddam Hussein had implied that his forces were prepared to use CB weapons to disrupt and defeat the coalition forces. His army had experience in conducting combat operations in an NBC environment, and his armed forces were experienced in delivering these munitions against Iranian soldiers and cities. By 1990 Iraq had the largest CW production capability in the Third World, with a stockpile of thousands of tons of blister and nerve agents. Iraq had developed and weaponized BW agents, to include anthrax bacteria and botulinum toxin. With ballistic missiles capability, aerial bombs, artillery shells, rockets and spray tanks, this threat challenged the coalition in a very sensitive and vulnerable area. This led to the

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Chemical-Biological Defense: U.S. Military Policies and Decisions in the Gulf War
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables and Figures ix
  • Foreword xi
  • Preface xv
  • Acknowledgments xvii
  • Abbreviations xix
  • Chapter 1 - Incidents in the Gulf 1
  • Chapter 2 - Deployment to the Desert 19
  • Chapter 3 - Building Up the Defense 43
  • Chapter 4 - Move to the Offense 61
  • Chapter 5 - Tensions Rise in the Gulf 75
  • Chapter 6 - Operation Desert Storm Begins 91
  • Chapter 7 - “…and Then We Are Going to Kill It” 109
  • Chapter 8 - After-Action Report 129
  • Chapter 9 - Agent Orange Revisited? 151
  • Chapter 10 - Conclusion 169
  • Appendix A 187
  • Appendix B 191
  • Appendix C 201
  • Notes 209
  • Selected Bibliography 227
  • Index 231
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