29th Field Artillery
Combat Historical Summary
(15 January - 16 April 1991)
(15 January - 16 April 1991)
ARCENT intelligence preparation of the battlefield identified the threat of a potential
Iraqi pre-emptive attack into the Theater's rear and Main Supply Route, spoiling ARCENT's
buildup and lateral repositioning of forces for G-Day offensive operations. Syrian and
Egyptian forces were occupying screen positions north of Hafar al Batin in a narrow
defensive belt 20 kilometers south of the tri-border area. 1CD, augmented with 3rd Bde,
101st Air Assualt division (101 AAD) were given the mission to establish blocking/defensive
positions north of the Trans Arabian Pipeline (TAPline) road vicinity Hafar al Batin.
42nd FA Bde, consisting of 1-27 FA (MLRS), 3-20 FA (155mm) and 2-29 FA(-) were the only
VII Corps Artillery assets available for commitment to combat operations. According to
LTG Franks, VII Corps Commander, 101 AAD forces (supported by a 105mm Battalion)
breathed a sigh of relief when the Wheelhorse Brigade (42nd FA Bde) moved into sector and
was set to provide GS.
OUTBREAK OF HOSTILITIES
Operation Desert Storm began with violent air strikes against strategic and operational targets
at approximately 0100 local, 17 January 1991. The Battle Ready soldiers were awakend early for
stand-to at 0315 and placed into MOPP II. Realizing that this was no longer a show of force
operation, and that ground combat operations were imminent, training, readiness, combat capability
and force sustainment became the priority focus for every soldier in the battalion.
SUPPORTING THE 1ST CAVALRY DIVISION
Movement from the battalion assembly area in TAA Henry (NR 881720) to the new position was conducted
on 17 January 1991 in the newly developed battalion desert wedge formation with 8 howitzer sections,
the initial contingent to arrive from King Faud Port. The battalion occupied a position south of
Hafar al Batin at NS 8711307 along the Wadi al Batin, the most significant terrain feature along
the Iraqi/Kuwait border extending into Saudi Arabia. The pace of ammo draw and upload from the
ammunition supply points quickened in anticipation of possible fire missions.
At 2048 on the evening of the 17th, another Frago was issued which instructed the battalion to move
north of Hafar al Batin and assume a General Support Reinforcing (GSR) mission in support of 1-82 FA,
1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division (1CD). The battaliom moved on the morning of 18 January to NS 932515,
2 km north of Hafar al Batin. Coordination with 1-82 FA was effected and the battalion was prepared
to provide fire support while it completed reconstitution of the force in preparation for combat
operations. During this period, until 26 January, the battalion received the remainder of its tracked
and wheeeled vehicles from the port; drew its entire clss V Basic Load UBL(8000+ rounds), and stockpiled
Training focused on the movement of the batteries in a wedge formation (Diagram 2), movement within a battalion
wedge, FDC training to hone fire mission processing of special munitions. During Desert Storm, the batteries
adopted new techniques of command and control which proved very effective in the desert warfare environment.
Platoons were combined into an 8 gun battery with one controlling FDC. The second FDC followed the missions,
and provided the 24 hour capability required during combat operations. Battery Commanders, adopting old
artillery tactics, again led and laid their battery formation, while platoon leaders responsibilities were
focused on either the gun line or support operations. Advance parties were utilized only when moving to set
positions early in the campaign; during the movement to contact, batteries laid from the battalion wedge
formation when notified to emplace. The battalion also modified its combat/field trains operations to more
efficiently operate and support the battalion in a mobile desert warfare environment. One modification was
the consolidation of maintenance recovery assets which moved behind the combat trains to conduct recovery.
Self recovery by all batteries was continuously stressed. A mindset of towing vehicles forward, never back
was deeply instilled into every leader to ensure sustainment of combat power during offensive operations;
and confidence in the soldier that he would not be abandoned in the desert.
On 19 January, a 1CD Warning Order was issued detailing movement forward in sector to establish a screen along
the Saudi-Iraqi border and to conduct defense in sector to defeat Iraqi forces, allowing no penetration of
PL Pipe (TAPline road). This movement would occur once the Syrians had repositioned to the east of Wadi al Batin
with the remainder of the Northern Arab Command (NAC). Syrian movement was not completed until 25 January, and
at 0920 on 26 January the battalion moved out in a battalion wedge formation, integrated into a Brigade Combat
Team (BCT) vee formation and moved 26 miles to new locations near the Saudi-Iraqi border (NS 923932).
Movement went extremely well, as all batteries superbly demonstrated their ability to move in battery wedges
as part of the battalion wedge within the BCT formation. Occupations from the wedge were executed with precision
and the battalion was quickly laid and prepared to provide fire support (within 6 minutes) in the western
portion of 1st Bde sector by 1244. The 1st Bde Cdr, his FSCOORD and COL Boyd observed the move and occupation
and were highly complimentary of the battalions ability to move and occupy so readily within the brigade
formatiom. 1-82 FA occupied in the east to cover the eastern portion of the Bde sector.
1st Cavalry Division's mission was to defend in sector, prevent an Iraqi spoiling attack down the Wadi al Batin
and conduct deception and feint operations to give the appearance that the VII Corps main effort would occur
in the Wad area.
The battalion continued an aggressive training program while supporting the 1CD focusing on movement and occupations
during limited visibility, in MOPP, buttoned-up during movement to contact, and development of dug-in protected
positions to be used during 1st Infantry Division (1 ID) breach artillery preparation. Although extensive work was
done using engineer assets, sandbags and bracing materials, the prototype developed by 2-29 FA (Diagram 3) was never
executed at the breach site for two reasons. Time and engineer assets were not available; and senior leaders had
correctly assessed that the counterfire threat would be minimal due to massive air and artillery targeting of Iraqi
artillery prior to Ground Day (G-Day).
LTG Franks visited 2-29 FA on 28 January to thank the soldiers for being so responsive to his call for fire support.
He also took the time to explain the objectives of the Air Campaign and the importance of 1CD's feint up the Wadi al Batin.
The battalion was afforded the opportunity to live fire at VII Corps Jayhawk Range on 2-4 February. The Tactical
Operations Center (TOC), battery FDC's and four guns were initially moved to Jayhawk via HET's and 24 DPICM, 63 RAP,
223 HE and three Copperhead rounds were fired. Of two Copperhead rounds fired at extreme OT angle of 1900 from FIST observer,
one achieved a direct hit, while the other missed the target by a few feet. A third Copperhead lased by an OH-58 and observed
by Red Storm 6 (VII Corps Artillery Commander, BG Abrams) also achieved a direct hit. Also, new to the gun crews was the firing
of red powder bag powders, which has a substantial increase in kick over the white bag normally fired. This opportunity to
fire these special munitions gave the soldiers at all levels increased confidence that they would be able to deliver timely
and accurate fires during ground combat operations. The battalion rotated and fired four additional guns and crews to the
Jayhawk site (PS 380087) prior to returning to the 1CD sector on 5 February.
Receipt of the Global Positioning System (GPS) during this period suddenly gave key leadership the ability to navigate with
pinpoint accuracyunder all visibility conditions. GPS displayed current location (10 digit grid), bearing and speed of travel
and azimuth to waypoints along routes of march. No longer would key personnel operate using a compass and dead reckoning,
with the subsequent potential of becoming LID - Lost In The Desert. GPS would prove to be key to the ARCENT ground campaign.
The Survey section quickly learned to integrate GPS and PADS for common survey data across the battalion-GPS provided 10 digit
locatio, while PADS carried a common direction. Once additional devices were received, even combat support elements, who
normally made the most frequent long distance trips to numerous support bases were GPS equipped and able to navigate with
confidence, day or night.
The battalion medics trained extensively in triage and casualty evacuation procedures, and conducted Combat Lifesaver refresher
training, while simultaneously maintaining the health of the command. Ambulances were deployed to support all raids, and
during the war traveled well forward as part of the Combat Trains. Fortunately, their services were not needed except for
minor injuries and illnesses.
On 8 February, the battalion was alerted to move more centrally into the 1st Bde sector as artillery units began to prepare for
artillery raids in the Wadi area. Through repositioning, 2-29 FA would support the entire Bde sector which extended over a 30 km
front, freeing the DS battalion to move east to support the feint raids. The move was made the night of 9 February with batteries
in double column, battalion column formation traveling along a replicated breach lane to provide leaders with a feel for how the
movement into the 1CD breach prep positions would occur. Most chiefs of sections didn't realize that the breach lanes were a
training exercise, motivation and attention to detail was at an all time high as they travelled through the simulated breached
"minefields". Occupation of the positions vicinty PS 013973 went extremely well and verified the intensive training that had been
conducted by the battalion had paid off.
During the review of VII Corps standardized callsigns, it was discovered that 2-29 FA and 3rd Bde, 3rd Armored Division (3 AD)
shared the Thunder prefix. To avoid confusion in the heat of battle, 2-29 FA requested permission from VII Corps to change to
the unit callsign to PATHFINDER (8th Infantry Division callsign). Using the silence is consent approval technique, PATHFINDER
became 2-29 FA's Hollywood callsign on 10 February. A letter was dispatched to CG, 8th ID explaining why 2-29 FA was using his
On 12 February, the battalion was alerted to an engineer support mission which consisted of moving forward in sector to within
seven kilometers of the Saudi berm to NT 975054 to provide immediately responsive fire support to a company team overwatch of
an engineer platoon. Engineers were reconning the berm for breach sites to prepare for the increased tempo of the 1CD deception
The battalion used the artillery raid light configuration of command and control HMMWV's, 25 howitzers, three battery FDC's,
three VTR's and the Thunder Cat. the Thunder Cat was a converted FAASV normally used by the commander for command and control.
The light formation was designed to enable the battalion to quickly emplace, execute the mission and then displace rapidly to
avoid Iraqi counterfire. Wire communication was quickly established by dedicated battery wire teams, who consistantly wired in
the battalion (digital and voice lines) in less than ten minutes. The TOC and TACFIRE complex remained in the base camp and
provided command and control and technical fire control. No activity was observed on the 12th, and the guns returned to base
camp and refueld before dark.
On the 13th, the battalion again moved forward to support a cavalry recon in force/screen mission along the berm. Enemy forces
were observed in the vicinity of the berm, and the cavalry FIST requested fires against the observed Iraqi forces. Firing pins
slammed into primers at 1501 on 13 February as the first VII Corps Artillery battalion fire mission went downrange against the
Iraqi target. With a battalion six rounds of DPICM, the targets were blanketed with DPICM bomblets and secondary explosions
confirmed a catastrophic kill of four HET's. This fire mission distinguished 2-29 FA as the first battalion in 42nd FA Bde and
VII Corps Artillery to fire in support of Desert Storm combat operations. Morale was high within the battalion following the
mission and on 14 February the battalion eagerly moved forward to PT 028104, less than three kilometers from the berm to suppot
another cavalry screen mission. Enemy forces were again sighted, but clearance was not received for their engagement. However,
several Iraqi soldiers were apprehended coming across the berm to surrender, and 2-29 FA processed their first Enemy Prisoners
of War (EPW's) at the battalion TOC.
On the 14th, the battalion was also alerted to the possibility of conducting a raid that evening in conjunction with 1-27 FA's
first artillery raid. Two targets received from DIVARTY were out of range of the battalion positions, and authorization to move
to a position that could range the targets was not granted. The battalion was alternately given the mission to stay in place and
provide counterfire support for 1-27 FA's raid. The rockets were an impressive site that night as the fiery trails burned an image
of overwhelming power into the minds of all who watched them streak downrange. the fuze functioning could be clearly seen by all
who watched imagined the bomblets spilling out onto the Iraqi positions. A night rearward passage of lines was conducted back
through the cavalry screen line once it was clear that the Iraqi artillery was not going to respond to the challenge of the
Coalition Artillery. Link-up and movement back through the maneuver screen line occurred without incident due to the clearly
established signals, route (thanks to GPS) and FM communication with the passed unit.
On 15 February, 2-29 FA received a mission to conduct a forward passage of lines, move east to PT 1212, (which plotted forward
of maneuver scouts and within visual distance of the Saudi/Iraq Border berm) and conduct an artillery raid. The raid was executed
with a light formation and the fire missions were controlled and executed (FM) voice out of the Thunder Cat. Maintaining FM
communication with 42nd Bde/1CD DIVARTY proved to be the most demanding requirement during raids. Due to the extended distances
between headquarters, radio retrans and relays proved to be critical for clearance of fires. Targets during this raid were two
radar sites, and at 1635 and 1640 respectively the raid proceeded and supported 1CD's massive MLRS, 155mm and AH-64 raid/feint
deep into enemy territory. Following the artillery SEAD, elements of the Corps 11th Combat Aviation Brigade attacked preplanned
and targets of opportunity in zone, after moving through an open corridor up the Wadi al Batin in the Iraqi lines.
SUPPORTING THE FIRST INFANTRY DIVISION
On the morning of 16 February, 42nd FA Bde received a planned mission change of Reinforcing (R) to 1 ID. Movement to the 1 ID breach
area had begun on 14 February, when a small quartering party moved to recon the new area, stll being cleared and secured by Task Force
Iron. On the 15th, the battalion field and combat trains moved into sector, and on 16 February, the remainder of the battalion moved
west to occupy a position vicinity NT 613183. A hasty refuel operation was executed to precision just short of the new position on a
few minutes notice to the POL team. Shortly after the battalion moved into the position, the battalion's goose egg was occupied by
artillery units executing raids against Iraq's 48th Infantry Division (48 ID). This practice continued over the next several days as
all the artillery units in sector moved forward to shoot and scoot. This constant activity motivated everyone to dig their tents and
foxholes in deeper, in anticipation of counterbattery fires that fortunately never came. 2-29 FA remained the most forward deployed
artillery unit in the 1 ID sector (Diagram 4) along PL Vermont with the maneuver screen line within 1 kilometer of the battalion position.
On 21 February, the battalion moved east to NT 720200 to execute a raid against infantry platoons in trenches and a supply point. The
raid was fired in conjunction with an MLRS platoon from 1-27 FA and the FFE was spectacular as MLRS launchers from 200 meters behind
the battery positions lauched their rockets. The battalion's FFE included 216 HE RAP with PD fuze settings.
Combat and combat service support continued to be a major challenge due to extended distances between supply sources, constantly changing support relationships and a scarcity of critical repair parts. Field and combat trains personnel were the heros who scrounged and traded to acquire vital supplies for the battalion. The mess section continuously pushed two hot meals a day for the soldiers knowing that once the offensive began, the battalion would be on a strict MRE diet. The maintenance crews worked round the clock to ensure the battalion was in the best maintenance posture possible before G-Day. The Direct Support Maintenance Contact Team attached to the battalion during Desert Storm scrambled and rebuilt major assemblies and was a tremendous asset throughout the operation. Being a non-divisional unit further complicated support operations resulting in a constant struggle and coordination nightmare with different Forward Support Battalions and Log Task Forces.
Finally the long awaited order to ground/store camoflage nets was issued on 17 February,and all chiefs gladly complied. Although combat operations were imminent, all batteries shuttled their soldiers to the rear (a 12 hour process) for a long overdue phone call home confirming that all was well.
VII Corps was now in the window for execution of the ground phase of Desert Storm and the battalion was poised and ready to move forward for the prep. On the 23rd, the battalion was notified that Ground Day (G-Day) was the following morning. Emotions ran high and sleep was difficult with the final air strikes against the 48 ID that shook the tents that night.
VII CORPS MISSION AND ORGANIZATION
VII Corps mission was "to attack, on order, Iraqi defenses and destroy the Republican Guards Forces Command (RGFC) in zone". RGFC was
composed primarily of the Al Medina and Hammurabi Armored Divisions and the Tawakalna Mechanized Division. However, there were numerous
other forces including the 12th, 17th, and 52nd Armored Divisions in close proximity and probably controlled by the RFGC. VII Corps
FRAGPLAN 7, for future operations during Phase V, stated: 3 AD mission was to conduct an envelopment and on order, attack in coordination
with the 1st Armored Division (1 AD) to destroy RGFC in the vicinity of Objective Dorset (Diagram 5). VII Corps was set with XVIII Airborne Corps
on the left flank and NAC on the right oriented north (Diagram 6). VII Corps was on line with 1 AD, 3 AD, 1 ID, and 1 CD from west to east.
1 CD was technically the ARCENT reserve. Although anticipated to be committed south of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment (2 ACR)/1 CD,
they were actually committed north of 1 AD and assisted the 24th Infantry Division in sealing off escape routes to the north. 2 ACR
occupied positions directly north of the 1 AD and 3 AD respectively, and would lead in the movement to contact. Once contact was made,
2 ACR would slide south and allow 1 AD and 3 AD to continue the attack. 1st United Kindom Armored Division (1(UK)AD) was in their Forward
Assembly Area (FAA) south of 1 ID. The 1 ID plan was to open a breach site into the Iraqi 48 ID sector, expand the breachhead to the
north and east, and for the 1(UK)AD to pass through. The 1(UK)AD then planned to move north and turn east into the enemy flank to confront
the operational reserve armor units that might be committed against VII Corps. 1 ID would then move north, relieve 2 ACR to the south of
3 AD and continue the fight to Objective Norfolk. Originally, VII Corps was to attack the day after G-Day at BMNT. All other forces would
attack on G-Day.
NOTE: This information courtesy of Brian A. Hatheway!