Battle of 73 Easting

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Battle of 73 Easting
Part of the Persian Gulf War
Type 69 Operation Desert Storm.jpg
Destroyed Iraqi Type 69 tank.
Date 26–27 February 1991
Location southeastern Iraq
29°32′41″N 46°37′33″E / 29.54472°N 46.62583°E / 29.54472; 46.62583Coordinates: 29°32′41″N 46°37′33″E / 29.54472°N 46.62583°E / 29.54472; 46.62583
Result Decisive Coalition victory
United States United States
United Kingdom United Kingdom
Iraq Iraq
Commanders and leaders

United StatesGen.Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr.
Gen.Frederick M. Franks, Jr.
Maj. Gen Thomas G. Rhame[1]
Maj. Gen Rupert Smith[2]H.R. McMaster (E Troop)

Joseph Sartiano (G)
Dan Miller (I)
Ashley Haszard (K)
Iraq Salah Aboud Mahmoud
Brig. Gen Saheb Mohammed Alaw
General Ayad Futayih al-Rawi[3]
Brig Gen. Bassil Omar Al-Shalham[4]
Units involved
2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment
3rd Armored Division
1st Infantry Division
1st Armored Division
British 1st Armoured Division
2nd Armored Division (Forward)
210th Field Artillery Brigade[5]
Tawakalna Republican Guard Division
10th Armored Division
12th Armored Division
52nd Armored Division
25th Infantry Division
26th Infantry Division
31st Infantry Division
48th Infantry Division[6]
Casualties and losses
12 KIA
57 wounded
26 tanks destroyed or damaged[7]
3+ Bradley IFV destroyed, 3 Bradley IFV damaged
600–1,000 killed and wounded
85 tanks destroyed
40 AFVs destroyed
30 wheeled vehicles destroyed
2+ artillery batteries[8]

The Battle of 73 Easting was a decisive tank battle fought on 26 February 1991, during the Gulf War, between United States armored forces of the 7th Corps and those of the Iraqi Republican Guard and its Tawakalna Division. It was named for a UTM north-south coordinate line (an "Easting", measured in kilometers and readable on GPS receivers) in the featureless desert that was used as a phase line to measure progress of the offensive. The battle was later described in a documentary of the battle as "the last great tank battle of the 20th century." This battle took place several hours after another key tank battle known as the Battle of Al Busayyah.

The main U.S. unit in the battle was the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment (2nd ACR), a 4,500 man reconnaissance and security element assigned to VII Corps. It consisted of three ground squadrons (1st, 2nd and 3rd), an aviation (attack helicopter) squadron (4th), and a support squadron. Each ground squadron was made up of three cavalry troops, a tank company, a self-propelled howitzer battery, and a headquarters troop. Each troop comprised 120 soldiers, 12–13 M3 Bradley fighting vehicles and nine M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks.[9] Task Force 1-41 Infantry performed counter reconnaissance missions prior to the 2nd ACR's actions.[10] This generally includes destroying or repelling the Iraqi's reconnaissance elements and denying their commander any observation of friendly forces. The corps' main body consisted of the American 3rd Armored Division (3rd AD) and 1st Infantry Division (1st ID) and 2nd Armored Division (Forward) and 1st Armored Division (1st AD), and the British 1st Armoured Division (1 AD).

The job of the 2nd ACR was to advance east as a forward scouting element, led by cavalry scouts in M2A3 Bradleys with highly advanced thermals to detect enemy positions. Following closely behind were M1A1 Abrams tanks covering them from the rear, ready at a moment's notice to move forward and engage the enemy. Originally advancing ahead of the 3rd Armored Division until late on February 25th, they would shift to the east and be ahead of the advancing 1st Infantry Division as it moved north from its initial objectives. The Regiment's mission was to strip away enemy security forces, clear the way of significant defenses and locate the Republican Guard's defensive positions so they could be engaged by the full weight of the armored forces and artillery of the 1st Infantry Division.[11]

On the night of 23/24 February, in accordance with General Norman Schwarzkopf's plan for the ground assault called "Operation Desert Sabre", VII Corps raced east from Saudi Arabia into Iraq in a maneuver later nicknamed the "Hail Mary." The Corps had two goals: to cut off Iraqi retreat from Kuwait, and to destroy five Republican Guard divisions near the Iraq–Kuwait border that might attack the Arab and Marine units moving into Kuwait to the south. Initial Iraqi resistance was light and scattered and the 2nd ACR fought only minor engagements until 25 February.

The primary battle was conducted by 2nd ACR's three squadrons of about 4,000 soldiers, along with the 1st Infantry Division's two leading brigades, who attacked and destroyed the Iraqi 18th Mechanized Brigade and 37th Armored Brigade of the Tawakalna Division, each consisting of between 2,500 to 3,000 personnel.[9]


The 2nd ACR was to advance east, locate and engage the enemy and determine his dispositions and then allow the mechanized brigades of the 1st ID to pass through to finish destroying the Iraqis. The 2nd ACR's limit of advance changed during the operation. VII Corps Fragmentary Plan Seven, issued during the night of February 25–26, made the 60 Easting the Regiment's initial limit of advance. After 2ACR made contact with the Republican Guard's security zone, Corps changed the limit to the 70 Easting. Along that line, the 1st ID would pass through the Regiment and push on to objectives further east. Lieutenant General Frederick M. Franks, Jr., the commander of the VII Corps, ordered Colonel Don Holder, the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment commander, to locate the enemy and to avoid becoming decisively engaged.[12]

The Regiment had its three armored cavalry squadrons operating on line with Second Squadron in the north, Third Squadron in the center and First Squadron in the south. The Fourth Squadron (the combat aviation squadron) flew reconnaissance and attack missions chiefly in the northern and central zones. Unusually for a corps covering force, the Regiment lacked a reserve tank or mechanized infantry battalion. Weather restricted flight operations severely, however, and kept Fourth Squadron grounded for about half of the daylight hours.

Moving through the Republican Guards' security area on the morning of the 26th, the Regiment encountered Iraq's heavily armored Tawakalna Division[13] in the north and the 12th Iraqi Armored Division in the center and south. All Iraqi units occupied well-constructed defensive emplacements and had prepared alternate positions which enabled them to reorient to the west to face VII Corps's attack. The 12th Armored Division's assignment to the Republican Guard was not known at the time of the engagement.[14]

Despite extensive aerial and artillery bombardment by U.S. forces, most Iraqi units defending along the 70 Easting remained effective. The Regiment employed artillery fire from the supporting 210th Field Artillery Brigade, C Battery 4th 27th FA MLRS, air strikes, and attack helicopters (both Apaches of 2-1 Aviation and Cobras of Fourth Squadron) against the Republican Guard units as the armored cavalry squadrons moved east through the security zone. Sandstorms slowed this movement throughout the day, restricting visibility to as little as 400 metres (1,300 ft).

Approach to the 70 Easting[edit]

M1A1 Abrams Tanks from the 3rd Armored Division First Brigade along the Line of Departure.

2d ACR began the 26th of February on the VII Corps Objective SMASH still oriented to the northeast. In the early morning hours, Lt. Colonel Scott Marcy's Third Squadron fought companies of the Iraqi 50th Armored Brigade, which had moved into the Regiment's southern area to confirm reports that allied units were in the vicinity.

At 0522 the Regiment received Corps Frag Plan Seven, which adjusted its zone and objective and directed all Corps units to move east to attack units of the Republican Guard. The order adjusted the boundary between 2ACR and the 1st UK Armoured Division to the south and the early movements of the day involved re-orienting the Regiment's squadrons and coordinating with 1st UK Armored Division along the new boundary, the 80 Northing.[15]

The aviation squadron led by Lt. Colonel Don Olson established a screen along the 50 Easting by 7 a.m. and by 8 a.m. the armored cavalry squadrons had moved into their new zones. Third Squadron, operating in the center, destroyed a T-72 tank before 8 a.m., establishing the first ground contact with the Iraqi Republican Guard's Tawakalna Division. All three squadrons were in contact with security forces by 9 a.m. but a violent sandstorm blew into the area and movement to the Regiment's limit of advance, the 60 Easting, took until 11 a.m.

Air cavalry operations ceased just after 9 a.m. and would not resume until afternoon. Lt. Colonel Tony Isaac's First Squadron meanwhile encountered scattered enemy positions in the south and by noon had reported destroying 23 T-55 tanks, 25 armored personnel carriers, six artillery pieces and numerous trucks.[16] Lt. Colonel Mike Kobbe's Second Squadron troops all reported resistance from small Tawakalna Division security outposts while Third Squadron destroyed similar outposts in the Regimental center. Lt. Gen. Franks visited the Regiment's main command post just before 1 p.m. There, the Regimental executive officer, Lt. Colonel Roger Jones and the S2, Major Steve Campbell, briefed him on the situation and informed him that sensors were reporting movement of tracked vehicles to the north out of the Regiment's zone.

By 3 p.m. Third Armored Division had reached the 50 Easting and begun to move abreast of the Regiment to the north. First Infantry Division's movement to join the fight was taking longer than expected, however. Lt. General Franks therefore directed the Second Armored Cavalry to continue its attack as far as the 70 Easting and to make contact with the Republican Guard's main defenses and prevent their movement. At the same time, he ordered the Regiment to avoid becoming decisively engaged (meaning to refrain from committing all its maneuver forces and thereby losing freedom of action).

Colonel Holder issued a Fragmentary Order at 3:20 to comply with the Corps Commander's directive and by 3:45 Second Squadron's E and G Troops were in contact with well-organized defenses of the Tawakalna Division. At the same time the Third and First squadrons in the center and south moved to clear their zones, encountering T-72s in Third Squadron's north and T-62 and T-55 tanks of the Iraqi 12th Armored Division further south.[15]

Fourth Squadron's air scouts rejoined the operation as the weather cleared around 3 p.m. Air scouts identified enemy defenses to the front of Second and Third Squadrons and attack helicopters struck several of the security outposts.

By 16:10, further south near the east-west UTM coordinate line 00 Northing, 2nd ACR's E- ("Eagle") Troop received fire from an Iraqi dismounted outpost, a dug-in Iraqi ZSU-23-4 and several occupied buildings in an Iraqi village. The American scouts returned fire with their tanks and Bradleys, silenced the Iraqi guns, took prisoners, and continued east. They advanced three more kilometers east to the 70 Easting line. More enemy fire came in and was immediately returned.

73 Easting[edit]

Iraqi T-62 knocked out by 3rd Armored Division fire.

The Battle of 73 Easting refers narrowly to the violent armored combat action that took place in the final hours of 2nd ACR's covering force operation in the zone of Second Squadron and in the northern third of the Third Squadron zone. In the battle, four of the 2nd ACR's armored cavalry troops, Troops E, G, and I with Troop K contributing to I Troop's fight (totaling about 36 M1A1 tanks), defeated two enemy brigades, the Tawakalna Division's 18th Brigade and, later in the day, the 9th Armored Brigade.

The defending Iraqi forces, elements of Tawakalna's 18th Mechanized Brigade and the 12th Armored Division's 9th Armored Brigade, had arrived in their positions on the evening of 24 February and had oriented to the west to protect the main supply route, the IPSA pipeline Road, just to their rear.[17] The Iraqi resistance that 2ACR met on the previous day had been from the 50th Armored Brigade whose mission had been to cover the preparation of that defense.

The Battle was part of the larger operation and, as it went on, the Third and First Squadron troops in the southern part of the zone continued to fight through the security area of the Republican Guard and fix enemy units of the 12th Armored Division. First Squadron, the Regiment's southernmost squadron cleared its zone of remnants of the 50th Armored Brigade before making contact with the 37th Brigade of the 12th Iraqi Armored Division, fighting to the south of the Tawakalna Division.[18] Scout and attack helicopters of Fourth Squadron and 2-1 Aviation Battalion (AH-64 Apache) supported the fight as weather allowed.

The Regiment moved from the 60 Easting with eight of its nine cavalry troops generally abreast of each other. (Lt. Colonel Kobbe had pulled his Troop F out of the Second Squadron's leading echelon when his zone narrowed.) The operation escalated into a full-out battle as E Troop (call sign "Eagle") maneuvered to the 70 Easting around 3:45 p.m. Heavy combat then spread to the south as I Troop of the Third Squadron closed the gap between the two squadrons and joined the fight. G Troop's attack to the north of Captain H. R. McMaster's E Troop made contact with defending units farther east and combat there became intense around 4:45 p.m. Fighting continued into darkness as the Iraqi division commander reinforced the 18th Brigade with his 9th Armored Brigade in the G Troop zone.

At 4:10 p.m. Eagle Troop received fire from an Iraqi infantry position in a cluster of buildings at UTM PU 6801.[19][20] Eagle troop Abrams and Bradleys returned fire, silenced the Iraqi guns, took prisoners, and continued east with the two tank platoons leading. The 12 M1A1 tanks of Eagle Troop destroyed 28 Iraqi tanks, 16 personnel carriers and 30 trucks in 23 minutes with no American losses.[21]

At about 4:20 Eagle crested a low rise and surprised an Iraqi tank company set up in a reverse slope defence on the 70 Easting. Captain McMaster, leading the attack, immediately engaged that position, destroying the first of the eight enemy tanks to his front. His two tank platoons finished the rest.

Three kilometers to the east McMaster could see T-72s in prepared positions. Continuing his attack past the 70 limit of advance, he fought his way through an infantry defensive position and on to high ground along the 74 Easting. There he encountered and destroyed another enemy tank unit of eighteen T-72s. In that action the Iraqis stood their ground and attempted to maneuver against the troop. This was the first determined defense the Regiment had encountered in its three days of operations. Still, the Iraqi troops had been surprised because of the inclement weather and were quickly destroyed by the better trained and better equipped American troops.

After defeating that force, McMaster sent a scout platoon of two Bradleys north to regain contact with Troop G. In doing that the scout platoon encountered another Iraqi tank position of thirteen T-72s which they destroyed with TOW missiles.[22]

Other 2nd ACR Troops I (call sign "Iron"), K ("Killer"), and G ("Ghost") joined the fight minutes later. Iron Troop of Third Squadron had halted around the 67 Easting to control the limit of advance with its tank cannon. As the troop moved north to secure its northern boundary around 4:45, it came under fire from the same group of buildings E Troop had fought through an hour earlier.

Captain Dan Miller, commanding I Troop, silenced the resistance with return fire then attacked to the 70 Easting. There he confronted T-72s in defensive positions south of those E Troop had just destroyed. With initial support from Captain Mac Haszard's K Troop, Miller's tanks destroyed sixteen enemy tanks on that position and then attacked through it. Just beyond the defenses I Troop observed another formation of enemy tanks moving in its direction and attacked it with tank and TOW fire. During that engagement, TOW missile fire from a K Troop Bradley struck and destroyed an I Troop Bradley wounding all three crewmen.[23] Before returning to positions along the 70 Easting, I Troop located the defending battalion's command post and destroyed its command bunker and security forces.[24]

By 4:40, Captain Joe Sartiano's G Troop had gained a position on a ridge overlooking a wadi at and parallel to the 73 Easting, north of E Troop. As the Regiment's northernmost unit, G Troop secured an open flank until the 3rd Armored Division's cavalry squadron arrived to occupy its own positions along the 70 Easting.

Sartiano's men engaged Iraqi 18th Brigade tanks in defensive positions initially. Very quickly, however, G Troop found itself facing counterattacks by tank units of both the Tawakalna Division and the Iraqi 12th Armored Division. Additionally other Iraqi units attempted to retreat to the north along the wadi and that led them directly into G Troop's position.

By 6:30, the first of several waves of Iraqi T-72 and T-55 tanks advanced into the wadi. Fierce fighting ensued as wave after wave of tanks and infantry charged the troop. Combat became so intense at times that only massed artillery and mortar fires, attack helicopters and Air Force close air support prevented the enemy from closing with G Troop. At one point a Military Intelligence (MI) Platoon from the 2nd ACR's 502nd MI Company had to suspend its signal intelligence operation and return the fire of Iraqi soldiers who exited a burning BMP-1 and continued to attack.

During the six-hour battle, the G Troop fire support team called in 720 howitzer and MLRS rounds while using its own mortars continually to turn back attackers at close range. By 9 p.m., G Troop had expended all its TOW missiles and was becoming desperately short on 25mm and 120mm cannon ammunition. To remedy the emergency, Lt Colonel Kobbe sent his tank company, Captain Bruce Tyler's Company H ("Hawk"), to relieve the troop. By then, G Troop had destroyed "at least two companies of Iraqi armor. Hundreds of Iraqi infantrymen and their lightly armored transporters lay scattered on the wadi floor."[18]

G Troop lost one M3 Bradley to Iraqi IFV fire and one soldier, Sergeant Nels A. Moller, the gunner of the Bradley, was killed. The Bradley's TOW launcher was inoperative, and the 25mm Bushmaster Cannon had jammed. While the crew was attempting to get the cannon back in action, an Iraqi BMP-1 hit the vehicle's turret with 73 mm cannon fire. Moller died instantly and the remainder of the crew evacuated the damaged vehicle.[25]

Artillery fire and air strikes played a large role in the battle, especially in the far north. In direct support of 2nd ACR, Colonel Garrett Bourne's 210th FA Brigade fired missions out to the 78 Easting. Close air support missions struck targets in greater depth, preventing some Iraqi units from closing with G Troop or escaping the battle area. Attack helicopters flew in support of air scouts at key intervals during the day and the 2-1 Aviation Battalion's Apache helicopters, led by Lt. Colonel Jon Ward, destroyed two batteries of enemy artillery and struck march units along the IPSA Pipeline Road at 4:30 p.m., just as the battle began in earnest.[26][27]

In total, the Regimental Fire Support Officer reported employing 1,382 rounds of 155mm howitzer ammunition (high explosive, dual-purpose improved munitions and rocket assisted HE projectiles) and 147 MLRS rockets on February 26.[28] The 210th FA Brigade Commander estimated that his two FA battalions and single MLRS, C Battery 4th 27th FA, destroyed 17 tanks, seven APCs, six artillery pieces and around 70 other vehicles. The number of vehicles damaged by artillery was greater. The number of enemy infantry casualties caused by indirect fire proved impossible to determine but almost certainly exceeded the thirty infantrymen claimed.[29]

Sporadic fire continued throughout the night but no major engagements occurred after 10 p.m. The Regiment used artillery fire and some close air support between the end of active fighting and the arrival of the 1st Infantry Division at the line of contact.

Based on the intelligence gained during the battle, Colonel Holder advised the Corps Commander that the 1st Infantry Division should pass through the southern units of the Regiment. Committing the Division in that area would keep it clear of the chaotic post-battle conditions to the north and, more importantly, would steer the main attack around now known positions of the Republican Guard divisions.

Lt. General Franks accepted that recommendation and, beginning around 2 a.m. two brigades of the 1st Infantry Division passed through the Regiment's positions along the 70 Easting. When the Division had completed passage of all its combat units around 6 a.m. the Second Cavalry Regiment became part of VII Corps' reserve.

74 Easting and beyond[edit]

Iraqi Type 69 tanks after an attack by the 1st United Kingdom Armoured Division during Operation Desert Storm.
Wrecked Bradley IFV K-12 burns after being hit by Iraqi tank fire during the first stages of the battle

By 22:30, the battle at 2nd ACR's front, at 74 Easting, was ending with most of the engaged Iraqi elements burning or destroyed as the 1st Infantry Division began its forward passage of lines. The 1st Infantry Division passed through the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment's line in total darkness and continued to advance on Objective Norfolk, an area encompassing the intersection of the IPSA Pipeline Road, several desert trails, and a large Iraqi supply depot. Now, instead of three armored cavalry squadrons, the Iraqi 18th and 37th Armored Brigades faced six heavy battalions of American tanks and infantry fighting vehicles and another six battalions of 155 mm field artillery. At approximately 23:30, yet another encounter took place: Lt Colonel Taylor Jones's 3rd Battalion, 66th Armor, ran into an Iraqi tank battalion equipped with T-55s. As before, the Iraqis did not run or surrender, but manned their vehicles and weapons to face the advancing Americans. Initially, many American units advanced past Iraqi tanks and crews, who were in shelters or had not yet turned on their engines and so did not appear to be threats in the American crew's thermal sights.

A slightly disoriented Bradley platoon, attempting to follow the M1 tanks, moved across the front of these Iraqi positions, illuminated by burning vehicles behind them.The Iraqis took advantage of this excellent target and opened fire from three directions. The initial volley hit a Bradley, killing three American Soldiers.[30] An American tank company trailing the lead units observed the Iraqi fire and joined the melee, quickly destroying three T-55s before they could get off another shot. At the same time, several small antitank rockets hit the Bradley platoon. From the perspective of the tank gunners looking through the thermal sights of the approaching M1 tanks, these flashes appeared to be T-55 tanks shooting at them. The young and exhausted American gunners, convinced they were fighting against a determined enemy, opened fire and hit three more Bradleys. The brigade commander, Colonel David Weisman, decided to pull the battalions back, consolidate, and use his artillery to destroy the aggressive Iraqi infantry.

Battle of Norfolk[edit]

Main article: Battle of Norfolk

The forces involved in the battle were the American 1st Infantry Division, the 3rd Brigade of the 2nd Armored Division (fwd) (Hell on Wheels) and the Iraqi 18th Mechanized and 9th Armored Brigades of the Republican Guard Tawakalna Mechanized Infantry Division along with elements from eleven other Iraqi divisions including the Iraqi 26th, 48th, 31st, and 25th Infantry Divisions.[31] The Iraqi 52nd Armored Division was also present.[32] The British fielded their 1st Armoured Division.[33]

Task Force 1-41 Infantry would spearhead the American assault into Objective Norfolk. The Iraqis had halted the 1st Infantry Division's initial push into their sector only temporarily. By 00:30, 27 February, the two attacking brigades of the 1st Infantry Division were positioned along the 75 Easting, 2,000 meters east of 73 Easting. In what has since been dubbed the Battle of Norfolk, they crossed the remaining ten kilometers to their objective, Objective Norfolk, over the next three hours. By dawn, the 1st Infantry Division had taken Objective Norfolk and the fight shifted away from the 73 Easting area to 1st Armored Division's attack to the north, started at 20:00 on 26 February, and the 3rd Armored Division attack just to the south of the 1st Division.

The British 1st Armoured division was responsible for protecting the right flank of VII Corps. It was assumed by the corps' planners the Iraqi 52nd Armored Division would counterattack 7th Corps once their penetration into Iraqi defenses was discovered. The British 1st Armoured Division had two brigades which participated in Operation Desert Storm. The 4th and 7th Brigades. They would both rotate responsibilities as the lead brigade. The 1st Armoured was equipped with the Challenger main battle tank. With a 120mm rifled main gun, thermal optics, and Chobham armor, its only rival in theatre was the American M1A1 Abrams tank. British infantry rode into battle on the Warrior infantry fighting vehicle. It had reasonable armor protection and a 30-mm gun. Modified versions of the vehicle included mortar carriers, Milan antitank systems, and command and control vehicles; and the British possessed a variety of excellent light armored vehicles built on their Scorpion chassis. British artillery was primarily American made M-109s (155mm), M110s (203mm), and MLRS systems which were compatible with American systems. Their air support consisted of Gazelle helicopters, used for reconnaissance, and the Lynx helicopter which was comparable to the American Cobra. The British had their full contingent of engineer, logistics, and medical units.[34]

This division was commanded by forty-seven-year-old Maj. General Rupert Smith. He was a member of the British Parachute Regiment and he was an expert on Soviet armor and tank tactics. His division had two brigades at its disposal. The 4th Brigade, reinforced with extra engineers and artillery, was used for breakout operations and to clear the ground at the breach. The armor heavy 7th Brigade was used for tank on tank engagements.[35]

On 25 February 1991 the 1st Armoured Division would smash into the western flank of the Iraqi 48th Infantry Division which was commanded by Brig. General Saheb Mohammed Alaw. That night the 48th Infantry Division was destroyed and General Alaw was captured by the British. That same night the British cleared two lines of enemy positions during close combat engagements. The British also destroyed several Iraqi companies of T-55 tanks.[36] That same night other elements of the division were engaging the Iraqi 31st Infantry Division.[37]

On 26 February 1991 British artillery units unleashed an hour long artillery strike on Iraqi positions. It was the greatest British artillery display since World War Two. That same night the British 7th Brigade fought a night tank battle against an Iraqi tank battalion from the Iraqi 52nd Armored Division. After ninety minutes of battle over 50 Iraqi tanks and armored personnel carriers were destroyed.[38] That same night the British 4th Brigade destroyed a headquarters and artillery site belonging to the 807th Brigade of the Iraqi 48th Infantry Division. British infantry units cleared Iraqi defensive positions which were occupied by the Iraqi 803rd Infantry Brigade.[39] After 48 hours of combat, the British 1st Armoured Division assisted in destroying or isolating four Iraqi infantry divisions(the 26th, 48th, 31st, and 25th), and had overran the Iraqi 52nd Armored Division in several sharp engagements. By midnight there was no more organized Iraqi resistance between the 1st Armoured Division and the Persian Gulf.[40]

On 27 February 1991 the British 1st Armoured Division secured the final objectives on the Basra Highway north of Multa Ridge.[41] The British 1st Armoured Division had traveled 217 miles in 97 hours. The 1st Armored Division had captured or destroyed about 200 tanks and a very large number of armoured personnel carriers, trucks, reconnaissance vehicles, etc.[42]

Destroyed Iraqi tanks burning at the Battle of Norfolk during the 1st Gulf War, February 1991.

Significance of the battle[edit]

The Battle of 73 Easting and the movement to contact south of the battle brought the Regiment's covering force mission for VII Corps to its conclusion. During the operation the Regiment covered the advance of three different U.S. divisions in turn, moved 120 miles in eighty-two hours and fought elements of five Iraqi Divisions.[43] The violent battle at 73 Easting fixed the southern forces of the Iraqi Republican Guard Corps and permitted the Corps Commander to launch First Infantry Division into the depths of the Iraqi defenses and on into Kuwait.

The 2nd ACR, which advanced between the Iraqi 12th Armored Division and the Tawakalna Division, was the only American ground unit to find itself significantly outnumbered and out-gunned. Nonetheless, the 2nd ACR's three squadrons, along with the 1st Infantry Division's two leading brigades, destroyed two Iraqi brigades (18th Mechanized Brigade and 37th Armored Brigade) of the Tawakalna Division. In moving to and through the Battle of 73 Easting, 2nd ACR and the 1st Infantry division's lead brigades destroyed 160 tanks, 180 personnel carriers, 12 artillery pieces and more than 80 wheeled vehicles, along with several anti-aircraft artillery systems during the battle.[44]

The equivalent of an Iraqi brigade was destroyed at 73 Easting; it was the first ground defeat of the Republican Guard. Within 24 hours, most of the other Iraqi brigades were gone.


  1. ^ Bourque, p.14
  2. ^ Bourque, p.43
  3. ^ Bourque P.247
  4. ^ Bourque P.164
  5. ^ Bourque, p.331
  6. ^ Bourque pp.134, 144, 377
  7. ^
  8. ^ MacGregor
  9. ^ a b "Briefing, Battle of 73 Easting". The Middle East Institute. 
  10. ^ Hillman 1993, p. 6.
  11. ^ Stephen A. Bourque (Autumn 1997). "The last battle of division Tawakalna, jewel of the Republican Guard". The Middle East Journal 51 (4). Retrieved January 5, 2011. 
  12. ^ Atkinson, Rick (1993). Crusade: The Untold Story of the Persian Gulf War. Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN 978-0-395-60290-4
  13. ^ Tawakalna Division
  14. ^ Michael D. Krause, "The Battle of 73 Easting, 26 February 1991", A Joint Center of Military History and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Project, 24 May 1991
  15. ^ a b "Extract of the Second Armored Cavalry Regiment's Operations Log", Second Armored Cavalry, ca. April 1991
  16. ^ Houlahan, Thomas (1999). Gulf War: the complete history. Schrenker Military Publishing, p 325. ISBN 0-9668456-0-9
  17. ^ Bourque. Jayhawk!. p. 310. 
  18. ^ a b Bourque. Jayhawk!. p. 330. 
  19. ^ Atkinson, p. 443
  20. ^ Regimental Operations Log Summary, p. 11
  21. ^ Battle of 73 Easting (video). 
  22. ^ Houlahan 1999, p. 328
  23. ^ Rick Atkinson, p. 444
  24. ^ Lt. Colonel Scott Marcy, Memorandum for Record, Operation DESERT STORM, Headquarters 3d Squadron, 2d ACR, 8 March 1991
  25. ^ Atkinson. Crusade. p. 446. 
  26. ^ Houlahan 1999, pp. 328–9
  27. ^ Bourque. Jayhawk!. p. 331. 
  28. ^ Major John Klemencic, Regimental Fire Support Officer, Fire Support Mission Summary
  29. ^ 210 FA Brigade, Battle Damage Assessment, Operation Desert Storm, undated, ca. March 1991.
  30. ^ Bourque, p.335
  31. ^ Bourque, p.144
  32. ^ Bourque, p.377
  33. ^ Bourque, p.260
  34. ^ Bourque, p.260
  35. ^ Bourque, p.261
  36. ^ Bourque, p.275
  37. ^ Bourque, p.275
  38. ^ Bourque, p.275
  39. ^ Bourque, p.276
  40. ^ Bourque, p.377
  41. ^ Bourque, p.377
  42. ^ Conduct of the Persian Gulf War: final report to Congress. United States. Dept. of Defense. 1992.
  43. ^ Lute, The Regiment's Perspective, IDA Conference papers, p. I-115.
  44. ^ Houlahan 1999, p. 332


  • "Ghost Troop, Battle at 73 Easting." Crawley, Vince, Armor, May–June 1991, VOL C, #3.
  • "The 2nd ACR at the Battle of 73 Easting." Davis, 1LT Daniel L., Field Artillery Journal, PB 6-92-2, Apr 92, Pg 48.
  • "A Swift Kick, 2nd ACR's Taming of the Guard." Army Times, 5 Aug 1991.
  • "Dragon's Roar: 1-37 Armor in the Battle of 73 Easting." Armor, May–June 1992, VOL CI, #3.
  • Draft Report The Battle of 73 Easting, 26 February 1991, a historical introduction to a simulation. Krause, Col Michael, US Army Center of Military History, 2 May 1991.
  • Warrior's Rage: The Great Tank Battle of 73 Easting, retired Colonel Douglas A. MacGregor Naval Institute Press, Fall 2009. ISBN 1591145058
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  • "Second Armored Cavalry Regiment: Operation Desert Storm", Major Steve Gravlin, Troop Information Paper, Headquarters 2d ACR, April 1991
  • Gulf War, The Complete History, Thomas Houlahan, Schrenker Military Publishing, New London, NH, 1999
  • "Summary of Fire Missions, 25 and 26 February 1991", Major John Klemencic, Second Armored Cavalry Regiment, February 1991
  • Memorandum for Record, Operation DESERT STORM, Lt. Colonel Scott Marcy, Headquarters 3d Squadron, 2d ACR, 8 March 1991
  • Conference Papers from "73 Easting: "Lessons Learned from Desert Storm via Advanced Distributed Simulation Technology, 27–29 August 1991", J. Orlansky and J Thorpe, editors, IDA Doc D-1110, IDA, Alexandria VA, April 1992. (Including presentations by Major General Paul Funk, 3rd Armored Division, "Keynote Address"; Colonel Mike Krause, Center for Military History, "Presentation of the 73 Easting Battle"; Colonel (ret.) Gary Bloedorn, Institute for Defense Analysis, "Data Collection Methodology"; Major Douglas Lute, Headquarters Department of the Army, "The Battle of 73 Easting: The Regiment's Perspective")
  • "Extract of the Second Armored Cavalry Regiment's Operations Log", Headquarters Second Armored Cavalry, ca. April 1991
  • Conduct of the Persian Gulf War: Final Report to Congress. United States. Dept. of Defense. 1992.

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