100 Miles from Baghdad: With the French in Desert Storm

By James J. Cooke | Go to book overview
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3

HAUTE CUSINE AND THE FRENCH ARMY

As Lieutenant Colonel Querry and Colonel Burckhardt had indicated, my stay at XVIII Airborne Corps headquarters at Rafha' was fairly short, less than 24 hours. After a sparse supper of MRE crackers and cheese, I met with Querry in the baggage claim area, which housed the Corps' G2 and G3 Operations cells. I would go to the 6th French Armored the next day.

Querry said that he wanted to show me something, and we climbed to the top of the building, where we could see the city of Rafha' and the surrounding countryside. The desert view late in the evening was spectacular, and Querry pointed at a long piece of high ground in the distance that seemed to be very high and imposing. He told me I was looking at Iraq and that the high ground was the Escarpment that the French would have to take before moving on to their next and very critical set of objectives.

The Escarpment would become, over the next few weeks, an area of intense investigation by both U.S. and French forces, but at this point, no one really knew what Iraqi forces held the high ground. We did know that there were several routes onto the Escarpment, but how well defended they would be and by whom was an unanswered question. What was clear was that it was a formidable piece of high ground, it was inside Iraq, the Iraqis owned it, and if indeed the ground war was initiated, it would have to be seized by the infantry. With the view of the imposing Escarpment in mind, I retired to the last really comfortable sleep I would have for the next two months.

As was typical of Corps operation, the next day we all attended the 7:00 A.M. briefing. There it became obvious that the main order of business was still the massive troop flow by air and ground from eastern Saudi Arabia to Rafha'. Troops were slowly moving into place all along the Tapline Road, and the shift appeared to be going better than anyone had dared to hope when we started. G2-G3 Operations had a pot of hot water, and at least we could fix a cup of coffee to go along with the breakfast MREs. After the briefing, Querry

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