Arabian Peninsula/Persian Gulf D+11 (20 July, 1987) Part II


Meetings between Soviet diplomats and senior Iraqi government officials lasted through the morning. Around the noon hour military officials from both nations joined the discussions. Saddam Hussein was gradually coming around though it was unclear if this was the result of his own realizations, or from the evolving iron fist in a velvet glove approach the Soviet position was settling into. The hints were subtle but the message was painfully clear. If Iraq did not complete the necessary preparations and begin military operations against Kuwait within the next fifteen to eighteen hours all guarantees of Soviet assistance would be removed from the table. This promise moved Saddam and his government into action. The timeline was agreed to and the afternoon meetings became military political and military strategy sessions focused on the days ahead.

As the afternoon went on, military units on both sides were making the final preparations for battle.

The three Iraqi Republican Guard divisions, two regular army infantry divisions, and supporting units along the border with Kuwait were ready for action. Fuel, ammunition, and supplies were distributed. Commanders reviewed the objectives for their units, and revisions were made to the battleplan where necessary. An Iraqi special forces brigade was slated to take part in the upcoming operation too, as was a sizeable chunk of the Iraqi Air Force.

At Al Taqaddum Airbase in Iraq a regiment of the Soviet 104th Guards Airborne Division was also making last minute preparations. This was the unit to be dropped on the Saudi oilfields around Dhahran as Iraqi forces crossed into Kuwait. The transport aircraft that would take them south were present and the aircrews were reviewing weather reports, enemy air defense estimates, and other necessary information for the mission ahead. Soviet MiG-29 fighters were also present at the base. These aircraft would escort the transports south into Saudi airspace and defend them from the US and Saudi fighters expected to be on patrol.

The small but well-equipped Kuwaiti military was as ready as possible for war. It was evident only so much could be done to slow down Iraq’s forces once an attack started. The Kuwaiti plan was for the ground forces to delay the Iraqis for as long as possible, buying time for the Emir, Kuwaiti government, and as many soldiers as possible to escape into Saudi Arabia. Discussions between Kuwait City and Riyadh had already been held and an agreement on the issue reached. The Kuwaitis would be welcomed upon crossing the border.

The US 7th MAB, deployed along the Saudi/Kuwaiti border would act as the trip wire against an Iraqi lunge from Kuwait into Saudi. Behind it, the bulk of the Saudi Army’s heavy forces were positioned to defend the approaches oilfields, and Riyadh. Responsibility for the actual defense of the oilfields lay with US CENTCOM. The 2/82nd Airborne Division was deployed, and a second airborne brigade would be fully on the ground by dusk. By dawn on D+12 there would be two brigades slated to the defense of the oilfields and Dhahran. Along with the ground forces, CENTCOM and the Saudis had a respectable amount of airpower and naval forces to draw from for the defense of the Arabian Peninsula. As time went on, additional forces from the US were set to arrive, bolstering the defenses even more.

In Baghdad the plan and timeline for the attack was personally finalized by the Soviet ambassador and Saddam Hussein at 1600 hours. Iraqi forces were set to invade Kuwait at 0200 hours on D+12, roughly ten hours time. Soviet airborne troops would be dropped into Saudi Arabia twenty minutes after the first Iraqi tank crossed the border.

At that point the Third World War in the Persian Gulf would enter a new phase.

6 Replies to “Arabian Peninsula/Persian Gulf D+11 (20 July, 1987) Part II”

  1. A part of me would just keep all of the 104th on the ground, reinforce it with “borrowed” tanks from the Iraqi motor pool, and use it (assuming it has BMDs) as a big forward detachment.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. If I am reading this right…. the 104th is slated to drop on the Oil Fields at 0-dark-30 on D+12

    2nd Brigade of the 82nd Airborne is already there is already there as defense and a second brigade element is to on scene by Dusk of D+11… and in theory in position by 0001 of D+12 because fighting positions are already there.

    Having seen them back in 1991, I remember the area being VERY defensible though if the Soviets manage to get IN some the areas, they will be Alabama ticks to dig out.

    But then, so will be the 82nd, which will already BE there. The Soviets will get hammered really hard if I read this right.

    Gonna be a rough D+12… for both sides and lots of reasons.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re on target with your assessment. It is going to be a tough fight. I learned that first hand when I gamed it out. 🙂 Not to give anything away but its all going to come down to whether or not the Soviets can grab an airfield so follow-on units can get in.
      You’re right about the area too. Very defensible against an outside force. But yep, if they can get into some of those areas it’ll be a bitch to root them out. And it ties up US units that might be needed along the border.


      1. even if they manage follow-on via the airfield, one of the few real bright spots in the SA military was their air force at that time. I remember thinking their army was so-so at best. Trying to snatch that AF will be a nightmare… especially as I remember arriving AT that strip near the oilfields back then.

        Absolutely right though- follow on stuff will be the key to prolonging the battle.

        The Kuwaitis being ready for combat in this… I should think they would put up a fight. IRL, the ones that managed to get to their weapons and fight, did alright in the real thing. Damn few of them managed that though.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That Russian airborne regiment is essentially on a suicide mission. The Saudi air force was and still pretty good. Back then they would’ve challenged the Russians, and then there were the US fighter squadrons in country at the time.

          Yeah, if the follow-on forces don’t make it, those paratroopers won’t last long.

          IRL The Kuwaitis held the Iraqis up a bit in August of 90. Small military though, nowhere near big enough to be effective on their own. In July ’87 its going to be much of the same, more or less.


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