Operation Vigilant Warrior
Operation VIGILANT WARRIOR (Arabic: عملية اليقظ المحارب) was a military operation from 8 October 1994 to 15 December 1994 by the United States in response to two divisions of Iraqi Republican Guard troops moving toward the Kuwaiti border. A quick response by United States President Bill Clinton allowed USCENTAF command and staff to deploy to Riyadh within days.
Operation Vigilant Warrior On 3 OCT 94, Company C, Second Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne); (C/2/5 SFG(A); was deployed on IRIS GOLD 95-1 for presences forward and pre-mission training with selected elements of the Kuwait Ministry of Defense (MOD). The training mission rapidly transitioned to defense of Kuwait operation establishing a Combat Air Support (CAS) umbrella over the entire northern third of the State of Kuwait employing five (5) each Special Forces, A-Teams, task organized and deploying 15 Forward Air Control (FAC) Teams.
Over a 16-day period C/2/5 SFG (A) provided; composition and disposition of all forces arrayed in the Kuwait Defense Plan (KDP); de-confliction of the main battle area; anti-fratricide capability; and real time ground truth in the battle space.
C/2/5 SFG (A) maintained the CAS umbrella continuously until elements of 1st Brigade of the 24 Infantry Division (Mechanized) arrived in Kuwait and established an operational capability on or about 19 OCT 1994.
Operational Outcome: Army Prepositioned Stocks (APS) concept could not adequately respond to tactical threats emerging in the Persian Gulf area.
Strategic Outcome: The Strategic Operational gap analysis indicated in order to protect U.S. National Interest on the Arabian Peninsula; requires establishment of Brigade Combat Team (BCT) in the State of Kuwait.
On the evening of 7 October 1994, 1st Brigade of the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) based at Fort Stewart GA went on alert. The following day, lead elements of that Brigade, consisting of four line companies each from the 2/7 Infantry Battalion and 3/69 Armor Battalion plus the 2/7 Infantry Battalion Headquarters, deployed by air on orders to Camp Doha, Kuwait. Those elements completed the air movement within 48 hours. Within 72 hours, that reinforced brigade drew pre-positioned equipment stored at Camp Doha In addition two Patriot missile batteries from Fort Polk, Louisiana were dispatched to theater.
On 8 October, 1st Force Service Support Group (FSSG), I Marine Expeditionary Force, was put on alert. The 1st FSSG Forward (FWD) was manned up to deploy as the lead element for the 1st FSSG. The FSSG FWD deployed 120 Marines and equipment from March Air Force Base, CA to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia via Air Force Cargo Aircraft on 28 October 1994. The unit then traveled north by convoy to the port of Al-Jubayli. At the same time, the 3rd Brigade, 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) deployed from Fort Benning GA to the port of Ad-Dammam, which would draw pre-positioned afloat equipment.
Also on 8 October, the 23rd Wing's (Flying Tigers) 75th Fighter Squadron (Tigersharks) and its full complement of A-10s initially deployed from Pope AFB, North Carolina to Dhahran AB, Saudi Arabia, followed by the first forward deployment to Ahmed al Jabber AB, Kuwait. This allowed better face-to-face coordination with tactical air control parties (TACP) assets further forward deployed at Camp Doha, Kuwait and points North. They initiated the first of a series of 120-day rotations for the A-10 community that continued until Operation IRAQI FREEDOM commenced.
The United Kingdom's contribution was two warships, HMS Cardiff and HMS Cornwall, doubling their deployment of RAF Tornado GR1s (originally six) and increasing their troop numbers to 1,000. Elements of the 45 Commando were airlifted into Kuwait. The Commandos operated alongside the 1st Brigade of 24th Infantry Division.
Iraq recalled its ground forces during the last weeks of October. With no remaining need for the combat troops, retrograde began within a few days. The Marines departed from Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, on 5 November 1994. Much of the 24th Infantry Division turned in the pre-positioned equipment and rotated out of Kuwait before Thanksgiving Day, but trail elements remained until the first days of December.
Debate over Iraqi intentions
There is significant debate over Iraqi intentions during the October 1994 crisis. Saddam Hussein's son-in-law Hussein Kamel stated after his defection to Jordan in 1995 that Saddam had intended to invade Kuwait a second time and this was forestalled by a rapid American response to reinforce the kingdom. Others have argued that Saddam never intended to actually invade Kuwait and the movements were intended as a provocation to draw attention to Iraq's plight under the international sanctions regime.
Former Republican Guard general Ra'ad al-Hamdani claimed in an interview after the 2003 invasion that Saddam had decided in September of 1994 to invade Kuwait, but that he had opposed Saddam during a meeting on September 11, 1994.
Iraq formally recognized Kuwait's independence at the end of the crisis on November 10.
Awards and recognition
The Joint Meritorious Unit Award given went to HQ US Training Mission Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 8 October 1994 through 15 December 1994, for Operation Vigilant Warrior. US Service members who participated were authorized the Southwest Asia Service Medal, but not the Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia) nor the Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait) due to these events taking place after the end dates of those specific medals.
President Clinton visited the deployed troops in late October. On 28 October, he spoke to the members of the 1st Brigade, 24th Infantry Division at their positions in the desert to the northwest of Kuwait City. Clinton emphasized the speed at which the brigade deployed deterred a repeat of the 1991 invasion of Kuwait. Clinton stated, "You got here in a very big hurry. And because of that, Iraq got the message in a very big hurry. It withdrew its forces that were massed near the Kuwaiti border."  And to the joy of the deployed troops, he also announced they would be home before Christmas and they would receive additional combat zone deployment allowances (amounting to $300 per month for enlisted soldiers).
- Vigilant Warrior, GlobalSecurity
- Duty logs of 1st Brigade, 24th Infantry Division, 7 October to 15 October, inclusive.
- W. Eric Herr. "The Deterrence of Operation". Retrieved 19 May 2011.
- John Pike. "24th Infantry Division". Globalsecurity.org. Retrieved 19 May 2011.
- Amy Stelpflug and Richard Hyatt. Home of the Infantry: The History of Fort Benning. Mercer University Press. Retrieved 17 February 2013.
- "Kuwait: British Forces Mission (Hansard, 12 October 1994)". Hansard.millbanksystems.com. 12 October 1994. Retrieved 19 May 2011.
- Personal papers of Craig Swain, Communications Officer, 2-7 Infantry Battalion during Operation Vigilant Warrior.
- https://archive.org/details/saddamsgeneralsp00alex | Saddam’s Generals: Perspectives of the Iran-Iraq War, p. 37-38, 46, 61-62.
- NAVMC 2922 Unit Awards Manual
- "Clinton praises soldiers helping to defend Kuwait (Houston Chronicle, October 29, 1994)". Retrieved 10 Oct 2012.
- "President Delivers Cheering Words to Troops in Kuwait (Los Angeles Times, October 29, 1994)". Retrieved 10 Oct 2012.
- W. ERIC HERR, OPERATION VIGILANT WARRIOR: CONVENTIONAL DETERRENCE THEORY, DOCTRINE, AND PRACTICE, School of Advanced Airpower Studies, June 1996