Desert Storm, 1990-1991
On 2 August 1990, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq invaded Kuwait. This act precipitated U.S. military involvement in the Persian Gulf. The 2nd and 5th Battalions, 16th Infantry were alerted for deployment on 8 November 1990. The battalions deployed to Saudi Arabia soon after with the rest of the 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized) as part of Operation DESERT SHIELD. Operation DESERT STORM commenced on 17 January 1991 with air raids and artillery barrages on Iraqi targets, while the two battalions continued to rehearse their impending missions to penetrate Iraqi defenses and destroy the Republican Guard in zone.
Concurrently, the 4th Battalion, 16th Infantry, which had deployed from Germany to the port of Dammam, Saudi Arabia, was busy supporting the war effort as well by assisting the unloading of support vessels arriving with additional combat vehicles and supplies. On the morning of 24 February 1991 the Big Red One spearheaded the armored attack into Iraq, by creating a massive breach in the enemy defenses just inside Iraq. In the initial assault the 1st Infantry Division broke through the Iraqi 26th Infantry Division, destroyed it, and took over 2,500 prisoners. Ahead however, was the much vaunted Republican Guard known to be positioned at Objective NORFOLK.
On the night of 26 February 1991, the 1st Brigade next collided with the Republican Guard’s Tawalakana Division and the 37th Brigade, 12th Armored Division. The fight developed into a division-level battle and before dawn the Big Red One had destroyed both enemy formations. Enemy losses included more than 40 tanks and 40 infantry fighting vehicles. Following the Battle of Objective NORFOLK, the 5th Battalion raced ahead to assist in cutting the Iraqi lines of retreat from Kuwait City. As it approached the highway moving north out of Kuwait City and into southern Iraq, the Big Red One destroyed scores of enemy vehicles and took thousands more prisoners as the division’s units advanced.
The cease fire was announced at 0800 on 28 February and the war was essentially over. While the Rangers of the 2nd Battalion were ordered destroy any remaining Iraqi vehicles and equipment that could be located in the rear, the 5th Battalion was ordered to the vicinity of Safwan Airfield in Iraq. There, the Iron Rangers were tasked with securing the site where on 3 March 1991 the negotiations were held between Coalition forces and Iraqi leaders to finalize the cease-fire agreements. In this conflict the regiment earned 4 campaign streamers and each of the 2nd and 5th Battalions earned a Valorous Unit Award Streamer embroidered IRAQ-KUWAIT.