The Arabian Peninsula/Persian Gulf D+2 (11 July, 1987)


With the 7th MAB now on the ground and marrying up to its equipment in Dhahran, the US military presence in eastern Saudi Arabia was consolidating quickly. The Marines would be combat-ready  within twelve hours. Additional fighter squadrons, along with tankers, AWACS, and other air assets were set to arrive at airbases in Saudi Arabia, and Oman in the coming days. The US Navy controlled the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea for the moment, and the previous day’s air battles had given the USAF air superiority over Saudi territory. Overall, CENTCOM’s commander General George Crist was satisfied with the progress, though he wanted to move more troops to Saudi Arabia as fast as possible. A Marine Amphibious Brigade was a powerful force, but more than that was going to be needed to defend the Saudi oil fields from Soviet airborne forces. The only asset available was a brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division sitting at Cairo West airbase in Egypt waiting for tasking to either CENTCOM or AFSOUTH.

Crist wasted no time in requesting that 2/82nd Airborne be shifted to CENTCOM. Permission was fast in coming and the brigade began packing before noon. Its lead elements would arrive in Saudi by nightfall. To satisfy AFSOUTH, as well as future CENTCOM needs, the remainder of the 82nd was receiving orders to pack at Fort Bragg, North Carolina and would be deployed to Cairo West in the coming days to serve as a strategic reserve for the two commands.

For Crist’s Soviet counterparts at South TVD, D+2 was a day spent mostly licking wounds, and looking ahead to future operations. Soviet air and naval forces in the Gulf area had assumed a defensive posture. As US airpower continued its buildup, the MiG squadrons based in Yemen would be hard-pressed to defend their airbases, and port facilities used by Soviet ships. The surviving attack subs were patrolling the Arabian Sea in search of enemy ships, but none were found.

Offensive operations against targets in Iran remained on hold for the time being. Moscow’s concern about further action pushing Iran into the US camp remained, even though demonstrations in Tehran continued to denounce the United States as fiercely as they did the Soviet Union. War often brought on strange bedfellows however. Moscow did not want to see Iran and the US cooperating on any level.

Iraq was another matter. A partnership between Baghdad and Moscow contained tremendous potential for both parties, in the Soviet Foreign Ministry’s eyes. Unfortunately, the Iraqis had been unresponsive to Soviet overtures so far. Iraq’s leader was a man who would not respond well to intimidation, or proposing an alliance where he would be the junior partner. Saddam Hussein was a calculated, and opportunistic man. Unfortunately, with the military situation in the region not being in the Soviet Union’s favor, no opportunities existed for Moscow to seduce him with

At least for the time being.


2 Replies to “The Arabian Peninsula/Persian Gulf D+2 (11 July, 1987)”

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