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M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks of the 3rd Armored division move the end on a mission during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. An M2/M3 Bradley deserve to be watched in background. PHC D. W. HOLMES II, us Navy The men of the 2nd Armored cavalry Regiment spearheaded among the American columns that attacked Iraq ~ above Feb. 23, 1991.After three days of light fighting lock stumbled into one of the largest Iraqi armored formations andannihilated it with cannons, TOW missiles and mortars in the battle of 73 Easting, often referred to as “the last good tank fight of the 20th century.”

Then-Capt. (now Lt. Gen.) H.R. McMaster, commander of Eagle Troop, second Squadron, second ACR, literally wrote the publication on the battle and commanded among the lead facets in the fight.

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Helicopters buzzed end Eagle Troop together the ground intrusion of Iraq began on Feb. 23. The mission the the 2nd ACR was simple in theory however would be an overwhelming to achieve. They to be to reduced off Iraqi retreat courses out that Kuwait and destroy the big armored formations thought to it is in hiding in the flat, featureless desert.

The north desert might be challenging to navigatesince there to be no features to use for direction. Heavy rains and also windstorms limited visibility as the tanks and other vehicles felt their method through the desert.


Fox convoy made contact first, damaging a few enemy tanks. Over the next couple of days, second Squadron tanks and vehicles would certainly encounter foe observation and also scout vehicles and also destroy them v missiles and also cannons, yet they couldn’t uncover the Iraqi Republican Guard departments they knew to be dug somewhere into the desert.


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Iraqi tanks assigned to the Iraqi army 9th Mechanized department drive through a checkpoint close to Forward operation Base Camp Taji, Iraq. via Wikimedia

In the afternoon the Feb. 26, 1991, McMaster to be pushing his troop with a sandstorm as soon as he crested a rise and there, straight in prior of him, to be an entire department of Iraqi tanks v elite crews. Finding himself already in selection of the enemy, he instantly gave the order come fire.

The opponent had parked themselves away from the slight climb so the they would certainly be hidden and so just arrive American tanks would certainly be required to drive down the hill in the direction of them. This exposed the reasonably weaktop armor that the tankto the Iraqi guns.


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One Brigade that the US third Armored department masses in northern Saudi Arabia in ready for the intrusion of Iraq during the Gulf War, February 1991. US third Armored division Department of public Affairs

But the Iraqis had lost many of your scout vehicles and so were just as surprised together the US commanders when the two armored pressures clashed, leave them can not to capitalize on your position.

McMaster’s opening salvo collection the tone because that the battle. His an initial shot was a warmth round that destroyed a tank cowering behind a berm. His second shot, adepleted uranium sabot shell, shot v an Iraqi tank that was swiveling come fire onhim. As his crew targeted a 3rd enemy, the driver realized they were driving through a minefield and began acquisition evasive action.


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A ruined Iraqi tank throughout the Gulf War. publicly Domain via Wikipedia

Enemy rounds started falling about the lead tank as the two tank platoons in Eagle Troop obtained on line to sign up with the fight. Nine American tanks were now bearing down on the Iraqi positions, ruining enemy T-72s and armored vehicles. Together McMaster explained it in hisfirst review of the battle:

The few seconds of surprise was every we had actually needed. Enemy tanks and BMP’s (Soviet-made armored personnel carriers) erupted in innumerable fire balls. The Troop was cutting a five kilometer large swath of destruction through the enemy’s defense.

The Bradley fighting vehicles joined the tanks, shooting TOW missiles at the foe armor and also using their firearms to reduced down Iraqi infantry. Mortar and artillery support opened up, rain fire onto the remaining Iraqi positions.

The American forces cut down 30 tanks, 14 armored vehicles, and hundreds of infantrymen prior to reaching your limit that advance, the heat they were initially told to halt at. But McMaster bespeak the convoy to proceed attacking, fearful that the Iraqis would have the ability to regroup and wage a solid counterattack.


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A united state soldier was standing on peak of a ruined tank during the Gulf War. Renee L. Sitler/U.S. Military

At 23 minute since first contact, McMaster asserted it for sure to halt his troop’s advance. The single armored troop had crippled the Iraqi flank v zero casualties. One American tank indigenous the 2nd Squadron headquarters had actually received light damage from a mine.

Near the Eagle convoy position, Ghost, Killer, and also Iron troops were mixing it up other Iraqi units and also trying to catch up to Eagle. The adversary made a couple of half-hearted attempts at counter-attacking the us tanks, but they were quickly rebuffed.

That night, the US referred to as on the Iraqi’s to surrender and also it was answered by droves that troops. About 250 survivors surrendered come Eagle Troop.

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Up and down the united state lines, the story was similar to that of Eagle Troop. The Iraqis suffered almost 1,000 casualties, 85 tanks destroyed, 40 armored vehicles destroyed, 30 wheeled-vehicles lost, and two artillery batteries annihilated. The US suffered 12 males killed, 57 males wounded, and 32 vehicles damaged or damaged.