Arabian Peninsula/Persian Gulf D+22 (31 July, 1987) Part I

Author’s Note: I ran out of time with this post, so I’ll wrap it up on Sunday night with Part II. Apologies. –Mike

At approximately 0245 hours local time, the first wave of US air missions against targets in Iraq began. The primary targets were suspected SCUD and FROG launch sites in central Iraq. USAF F-16s made up the lion’s share of attack aircraft used in these strikes with F-15C Eagles flying cover and a small number of EW planes in support. Between 0245 and 0500 thirteen missions were conducted with mixed results. Six launchers were confirmed destroyed with several other reports telling of other launchers and support vehicles either damaged or destroyed. These remained unconfirmed until later in the morning when films were analyzed, and post-mission bomb damage assessment missions returned. At 1200 the number of SCUD and FROG launchers confirmed destroyed was raised to eight and four were marked as damaged. Daybreak brought an end to the SCUD/FROG hunt. Most squadrons in Saudi Arabia shifted gears and prepared to conduct BAI strikes and close air support missions through the next twelve hours. Concurrently, CENTAF planners went to work on the ATO for the next morning. The priority was in pressing for more aircraft. Specifically, the F-111s in Turkey. General Chuck Horner handled this. With CINC-CENT’s blessing, he went directly to the Air Force chief of staff General Larry Welch with the request, explaining in clear, succinct terms why it was critical to add more all-weather and night capable fighter-bombers to the effort. Welch was understanding but stopped short of a commitment to grant Horner’s veiled demand for at least some F-111s.

East of Basra, fighting continued through most of the day, its intensity rising in the late afternoon hours as the Iranians committed two fresh brigades to the action. This was not a yet a direct advance aimed at Basra or potentially the Kuwaiti border, though the situation was certainly beginning to point in that direction. Iraqi military commanders received many reports of additional Iranian army formations massing and preparing for movement southeast of Abadan. Later in the day, Iraqi reconnaissance aircraft undertook a handful of risky missions over this space of land, returning with film that revealed the reports were authentic. By initial estimates it appeared the Iranians were moving an entire armored division with supporting engineers into the area.

Iraqi military and political leadership projected that a major Iranian attack was likely to fall southeast of Basra with the objective of flanking the city and cutting it off from Iraqi Republican Guard units in northern Kuwait. This course of action was simply unacceptable to Iraq. The question now was whether to fashion an offensive or defensive response. The military favored the later opinion, but Saddam Hussein was of a different mind. He felt betrayed by Tehran’s violation of the ceasefire and attempt to multiply Iraq’s troubles at the worst possible time. Instinctively, the Iraqi strongman wanted to lash out with ferocity and decisiveness. The problem was that his military’s attention was divided between Iraq’s eastern border and the ongoing standoff with US and Saudi forces along the Saudi-Kuwait border.

10 Replies to “Arabian Peninsula/Persian Gulf D+22 (31 July, 1987) Part I”

  1. Happy Resurrection Day!

    Hm, looks like even if tomorrow Ivan threw in the towel, there’s still a mess in Iraq/Iran/the ME to clear up.

    The global implications of that are most interesting. Again, let us *say* that the war ends in the next day plus. Call it four days to cease-fire. The War will have eaten up numerous important stocks of fuel. The constant flying and shipping of cargo from the US and casevac back to the US (and even just empty ships returning), the fuel required to get troops to the coast to get aboard ships, more fuel for tanks, and so on…

    I think post-War, Mike, just…mechanically? speaking (will define this in a minute) there *will be* stagflation, there *will be* a 1920s style “Bonus Army” situation. Not, mind you, that soldiers will be treated that way! No indeed. Bear with me while I collect my scattershot thoughts.

    So first when I say “mechanically” I mean, unless you, the author, wave a magic wand and say “No there’s not.”, a post hot-war in Europe will produce massive financial shockwaves. This is not the slow, almost melancholy tempo of WW2. This conventional WW3 is a frightening beast that’s eating men and material at a rate that would shock even Korean War veterans, I would wager. Not in overall per capita of men and equipment, but as a percentage. Hyper-velocity tank rounds, guided missiles, cluster bombardment, etc. It’s eating fuel and keeping men out of stores and off factory lines and out of fields. Unlike WW2’s pace where it was years of production and at least in the US with women, older men, and minorities, filling those spaces that fighting men vacated, this war is eating all of the production that was pre-emplaced to fight it. There’s no economic miracle at home. And until or unless things are sorted out, it’s not like the day after the war GDLS or Raytheon or Martin-Marietta (I think they were still MM in ’87?) are going to kick into three-shift overdrive, if you follow me. Now let’s couple this with what’s happening in the Middle East. Same as the Iran/Iraq war in our own reality but you’ve got the aftershocks of a hot war with nuclear exchange and all the rampant damage that has done to world economies, coupled now with oil production and shipping issues, especially if the two belligerent nations engage in a Tanker War as they did IRL…you see what I mean? The post-War world of WW3 1987 will be one of economic system shock. I could see the US falling hard into a recession between say ’88 and ’92, and, any personal distaste *we* might have for the people, Clinton to sweep in to office on the promise of “fixing” the post-war economy. Which…if the USSR is gutted by the outcome of this war, would mean that … guess what, by 1990-1992, a demilitarized US information infrastructure ushers in the postwar boom of telecommerce and technology.

    But that’s looking way down the road.

    Again, unless you as the author say “No, that doesn’t happen” the Iran/Iraq war in the environment of the hot Third World War means serious economic repercussions, even worse than they were in the real world.

    I hope that ramble made sense.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, stupid me, I didn’t even explain my “Bonus Army” comment. For those of you who are curious and might not know, the Bonus Army was a huge number of WW1 vets who were cashiered and rotated out as soon as WW1 was over, they had been promised jobs, better pay, “bonuses” etc., but came home to an indifferent and callow nation. We treated vets better after WW2, but then after Korea, kind of ignored them, and after Vietnam, actively scorned them, after the Gulf War and thereon, we said “Never again,” but I do wonder if that might happen here again.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good question, Bill. And thanks for explaining Bonus Army to some of us younger folks 🙂 I’d completely forgotten about that little event between the wars. We learned from it but as always, we tend to forget the lessons of the past at some point


    2. Bill I replied to this comment earlier in the day. Not sure why it isn’t showing up, but Happy Resurrection Day to you too, sir. If my reply doesn’t show up by later on, I’ll repost it in the morning

      Liked by 1 person

          1. I really look forward to it. The socioeconomic impact of a 3rd world war (beyond going full War Day or The Road or something horrifying like that) really interests me, and you have a much better grasp on it than I do.

            Liked by 1 person

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