Intelligence Center provides support to Desert Shield/Desert Storm
Jan. 17, 1991
Operation Desert Storm began on Jan. 17, 1991, at 3 a.m. (7 p.m., Jan. 16, Eastern Standard Time). It was a direct result of the invasion of Kuwait by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein on Aug. 2, 1990. American President George H. W. Bush immediately condemned the Iraqi action, as did the governments of Great Britain and the Soviet Union.
Hussein, unconcerned about these protests, gambled that his fellow Arab states would stand by and either support or ignore his act of aggression. He was wrong. Two-thirds of the 21 members of the Arab League condemned the invasion, with Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd turning to the United States and other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, for help. Six days later, U.S. Air Force fighter planes began landing in Saudi Arabia as part of a massive build-up of troops and equipment that was known as Operation Desert Shield.
President Bush’s ultimatum to Saddam Hussein to leave Kuwait by Jan. 15, 1991, or face a full attack by a multi-national force was ignored. Therefore, the next day, Desert Shield became Desert Storm and for the next 42 days, the coalition of forces led by Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf pummeled Saddam Hussein back to Iraq.
Tragically, America lost 148 Soldiers in the fight — a number far smaller than the most optimistic of leaders could have hoped for. But this was a result of a herculean effort across the armed forces — including the Military Intelligence Corps and Fort Huachuca.
According to (then) Brig. Gen. John Stewart, Jr., the G2 of 3rd U.S. Army at the time, “Military Intelligence, or MI, came of age in the desert.” He believed that the accurate, timely, and continuous tactical and operational intelligence that was delivered by the Army Intelligence forces in support of the war would eventually be recognized as a major factor in the success of the operation and the unprecedentedly low casualties. This was a result of a number of MI firsts.
Desert Storm was the first time that MI units were deployed to provide direct support to heavy and light combat divisions with fully manned and equipped, organic intelligence battalions. Three MI brigades also deployed in support of two Corps and one field Army.
Nascent intelligence-gathering capabilities were also deployed for the first time, such as unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, and the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, or JSTARS, which both provided unprecedented imagery intelligence from the air. Soldiers from Fort Huachuca played an integral part in these firsts.
Fort Huachuca had been testing UAVs since the 1950s, but they had never been used operationally in combat. Nevertheless, 36 Soldiers from the UAV platoon of Company E, 304th MI Battalion, 111th MI Brigade, deployed on Jan. 10, 1991, to put their prototype Pioneer UAV to the test. The 400-pound prop-driven drone was mounted with a television camera and other sensors to monitor the battlefield day or night.
Personnel from the Intelligence Center were also trained and recruited to operate the ground station modules of the JSTARS platform, giving commanders the ability to detect moving targets on the battleground in all weather conditions. These two aerial systems provided unprecedented near-real-time imagery intelligence on various targets.
Imagery Intelligence was not the only discipline to test new capabilities during Desert Storm. The Intelligence Center’s Tactical Proficiency Trainer was able to enhance Signals Intelligence collection with its Voice Intercept Trainer. This system was deployed to XVIII Airborne Corps, VII Corps and 513th MI Brigade to improve the quality of their voice intercept personnel and to train others in the difficult Iraqi dialect.
MI broke new ground in intelligence and electronic warfare systems as well. Lt. Gen. Fred Franks, the VII Corps commander, requested support from the Artificial Intelligence Module Test Bed, which he nicknamed “Hawkeye.” This system arrived in Saudi Arabia from the Intelligence Center in January and was able to provide communication links with the U.S. Forces Command Artificial Intelligence Support System, commercial computers, high frequency radios, and tactical radios to relay information between Southwest Asia and the Continental United States.
Back at home, the MI Schoolhouse revised its training schedule, cancelling holiday exodus and conducting training every day except Christmas and New Year’s. A new publication, “Preparation for Deployment to Operation Desert Storm,” was hastily published by the Doctrine Division. The center’s library acquired maps and books on the Middle East and began a working bibliography on sources about the Middle East that grew to 15 pages long. Staff and Faculty Division prepared and taught an instructional techniques workshop for Reserve Component instructors who were called up to active duty to train intelligence specialists. Mobile training teams were dispatched to meet the need for additional training prior to deployment. Topics like Battlefield Deception and Counterintelligence were taught by these teams both in the United States and in theater in Saudi Arabia.
In an effort to close the gap of proficient Arabic linguists, the Intelligence School at Fort Devens, Mass., created a training task force to support the training of 300 volunteer Kuwaiti citizens, mostly college students studying in America, who agreed to join the military and go back to fight for their country. This task force designed and conducted a Combat Intelligence Training Course — nicknamed Desert Owl — that prepared the Kuwaitis to work with U.S. Army intelligence personnel and provide them with various types of linguistic support.
At the same time, Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, sent two Arabic linguists to Forts Campbell, Ky., and Stewart, Ga., to provide refresher training to 98G (now 35P) Arabic linguists attached to the 101st Airborne and 24th Infantry Divisions.
By the end of the conflict, the Intelligence Center had responded to 122 operational taskings. A total of 344 Soldiers from the 111th and 112th MI Brigades deployed to the Middle East in support of Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. With excellent support from the garrison elements, the Intelligence Center was able to respond to a wartime requirement quickly and efficiently.
Maj. Gen. Paul Menoher, the commander of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center in 1991, remarked often to his returning troops, “No commander in history has ever had better and more timely intelligence than they did in Operation Desert Storm.”