Desert Storm: A Forgotten War

By Alberto Bin; Richard Hill et al. | Go to book overview

4
The Balance of Forces

And so it is certain that a small country cannot contend with a great, that
few cannot contend with many; that the weak cannot contend with the
strong.

—Mencius, circa 300 B.C.

It has been argued that Iraq made a mistake when it stopped its advance at the border with Saudi Arabia, or when it did not attack U.S. troops during the early buildup of the Desert Shield force in the late summer and early fall of 1990. To have exploited its temporary military superiority by seizing Saudi Arabia’s major oil fields and ports would have given Iraq a strong bargaining and military position. The argument is based on the observation that Coalition forces were weak and not well prepared for combat in the desert at that time. But on 6 August, only two Iraqi divisions were deployed near the border with Saudi Arabia. Nine other divisions were in Kuwait, but they were all about 100 kilometers away from the border.122

Not counting U.S. forces, Saudi Arabia and its close Arabian allies in the Gulf Cooperation Council could deploy a strong air force: 5 E-3 Sentry AWACS airborne radar surveillance and control aircraft and about 380 combat aircraft (including 72 Saudi F-15 air-superiority fighters), many equipped with advanced U.S. or French avionics and weapons; to this we can add the potential of 475 Egyptian combat aircraft.123 Although the Iraqi combat air force of about 700 planes had a numerical superiority, its technical inferiority

122. U.S. Department of Defense, Conduct of the Persian Gulf War, Map 1–2,
p.4.

123. Numbers from bin Sultan, Desert Warrior, p. 20.

-63-

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Desert Storm: A Forgotten War
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Illustrations xi
  • Preface xiii
  • Introduction xvii
  • 1 - Why Did Iraq Invade Kuwait? 1
  • 2 - The Path to War 17
  • 3 - Was War Inevitable? 51
  • 4 - The Balance of Forces 63
  • 5 - Day 1 and the Battle for the Air 83
  • 6 - Military Operations- Day 2 to 38 95
  • 7 - Political Reactions- Day 2 to 38 137
  • 8 - The Land Battle- 100 Hours 145
  • 9 - Analysis of the Coalition Victory 209
  • Glossary 255
  • Selected Biblography 267
  • Index 277
  • About the Authors 283
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