Army

January 11, 2013

Military Intelligence — this week in history: January 11, 2012

Kuwaiti civilians trained in basic combat skills in Operation Desert Owl

Kuwaiti volunteers learn how to become soldiers in January 1991.

Jan. 7, 1991
With the outbreak of the first Gulf War, the Army realized it had a shortage of U.S. Soldiers proficient in Arabic. The Kuwaiti government, therefore, agreed to provide 300 volunteers to support the U.S. military efforts in Operation Desert Shield.

These volunteers, who were college students attending school in the United States, were selected by the Kuwaiti government and enlisted in the Kuwaiti Army. The students already spoke fluent English as well as the Iraqi dialect of Arabic, and had an understanding of American customs and traditions, which eased their adjustment to serving with the American Army. They were to report to the U.S. Army for training, equipping, and subsequent deployment to Saudi Arabia by Jan. 15, 1991 where they were attached to U.S. units.

All associated costs, including transportation to the Middle East, were covered by the Kuwaiti government.

The Intelligence School had to find a quick training solution. The U.S. Army Intelligence School Devens created a training task force to support the training of the new Kuwaiti Soldiers as assistant voice interceptors, processors, and reporters at Fort Dix, N.J., and Fort Devens, Mass. The abbreviated training ran from Jan. 7 to Feb. 6 and was designed as an intensive combat intelligence training course, or CITC.

Operation Desert Owl, as the project was named, was designed to prepare Kuwaiti civilians to work with U.S. intelligence personnel and provide linguistic support. Units supporting this CITC were the 306th Military Intelligence Battalion (Fort Devens), 3/26 Infantry Battalion, (Goodfellow Air Force Base, San Angelo, Texas), 3d Basic Combat Training Brigade (Fort Dix), 902nd Military Intelligence Group (Fort Dix), 344th MI Bn. (Goodfellow), 704th MI Brigade (Fort Meade, Md.), and the Defense Language Institute, Foreign Language Center (Monterey, Calif.).

The task force trained 287 Kuwaitis who subsequently deployed from McGuire AFB in support of Operation Desert Shield.

This Week in MI History is an ongoing feature of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center Command History Office. To visit their website on the IKN portal, go to https://ikn.army.mil/apps/mi_history/.




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