By D-1 CENTCOM was in the best possible shape considering the circumstances of the moment. A brigade of paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division was on the ground at Cario West Air Base in Egypt. A detachment of E-3 Sentries, and two fighter squadrons, one of F-15s and the other of F-16s, aas well as accompanying tankers, were at Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. The Maritime Prepositioning Ships (MPS) carrying the equipment for a Marine Amphibious Brigade had left their anchorage at Diego Garcia and were steaming west towards the Strait of Hormuz with the Constellation battle group supporting its transit. Troops from the 7th Marine Amphibious Brigade at Twentynine Palms in California were moving to Saudi Arabia by air to mate up with the equipment now at sea. A contingent was on the ground already, and CENTCOM expected to have the brigade’s manpower entirely in Saudi by 11 July at the latest. It was a matter of available airlift assets and priorities. There simply were not enough transports, and CRAF aircraft available at the moment to satisfy everyone’s needs. Europe was the priority, and CENTCOM simply had to deal with it.
The brigade from the 82nd was in Egypt as a compromise of sorts. AFSOUTH was loudly complaining about the lack of ground reinforcements available for his command. He wanted to take the entire 82nd and use it as a fire brigade of sorts wherever it might be needed in his command’s area of responsibility. General Crist, CINC-CENT came down hard on the idea, complaining quite correctly that the 82nd Airborne was tagged for his command’s use in wartime. Admiral Crowe personally settled the matter and ordered the 82nd to stage at Cairo West for the time being. If it was needed in the Med or Southern Europe it would go there. If it was needed in Saudi, the force would be sent there. Through negotiations with the Egyptians, a deal was reached where the Egyptian Air Force would handle airlifting the unit wherever it needed to go.
The rest of the division was still at Fort Bragg and would not move until the first brigade was committed. The entire 101st Airborne Division was operating under the same principle. Behind those two units, the 7th Light Infantry Division and an assortment of Marine units were on the deployment list. They were prepping now, yet it was anyone’s guess when they would actually be ready to move.
The US Air Force was preparing to move more of its elements tagged for CENTCOM to the Middle East. The remainder of the 49th TFW (F-15s) and 388th TFW (F-16s) were hurriedly packing, and A-10s from Myrtle Beach and F-111s from Mountain Home had received warning orders instructing them to prepare for movement. With just another five days of peace, Crist would feel better.
Unfortunately, it didn’t appear likely. Five hours of peace was a more realistic estimate. Throughout the day, the situation had been progressively moving from bad to worse on a number of fronts. In his command’s theater things were quiet. The Soviet forces in Yemen were doing nothing outside of routine patrols. In the Arabian Sea, naval activity was minimal. Most significantly, the Northern Caucus Military District was not making any moves to suggest operations against Iran or Saudi Arabia were imminent. That, however, could change at a moment’s notice, Crist was aware.
As was the case for general officers around the world at that moment, he had more than enough to occupy his mind. Yet, unlike the majority of his American peers, General Crist was, for the moment, a man without a war on the immediate horizon. Strangely enough, instead of providing comfort to him, the thought filled him with apprehension.
4 Replies to “Peripheries: Arabian Peninsula/Persian Gulf D-1 (8 July, 1987) **”
What I really like about your writing is that you seem to understand that wars are won or lost based on how many mistakes each side makes, and how well or poorly they prepare beforehand.
War is just one mistake and miscalculation after another, and the side that accumulates the least of them by the end of the war is the winner.
Even getting ready for war is chaos.
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Thank you, James. 🙂 War is no small undertaking, and as history has shown us, usually the side that screws up least is the winner.
Mike, just letting you know I’m still reading your book here, and it’s still great: I’m sipping it like a wine, walking in and out of it over time. Your blog-post setting makes it easy to do.
Anyway, good story. I have a feeling you have about a thousand people who are going to read this like I am (completely, while getting into it) but most of them won’t tell you about it, and I know authors need to hear feedback, so: muy excellente, Herr Author.
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Thanks, James. I can’t tell you how much it means to me that readers like you have hung in there for so long, reading and being active participants on the message boards here. Couldn’t do it without you