Cited by General Norman Schwarzkopf as the "lightning" of Desert Storm, the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) - not the Air Force - actually fired the first shots of the Gulf War when its Apache helicopters took out Iraqi radar at the beginning of the air war. Then, on day one of the ground war, over 200 101st helicopters, almost 1000 vehicles and more than 6000 highly trained soldiers drove deep into Iraqi territory. Their mission - to cut off the Iraqi invaders and then, if necessary, destroy them in battle. Tha author, a retired Army general, had access to the operation's key planners, after-action reports, and the troops themselves. Edward M. Flanagan Jr is the author of "Battle for Panama" and "The Los Banos Raid".
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Flanagan ( The Los Banos Raid ) here reviews the role played by the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He provides a brief history of the unit and explains its unusual structure (the 101st's combat aviation brigade, built around troop-carrying and helicopter gunships, is the main element that sets the unit apart from other infantry divisions). He tracks the 101st's deployment from Fort Campbell, Ky., to a base camp in Saudi Arabia, its confrontation with Arabian heat and sand and its elaborate preparations for battle. On January 17, 1991 the air phase of the war began with an assault by the division's helicopters against Iraqi radar installations. The division then played an important role in the war's ground phase as General Norman Schwarzkopf launched his ``Hail Mary'' flanking movement into Iraq on February 24. Flanagan's account of these actions is well-researched and well-written, but his uncritical, almost adoring appraisal of the 101st and its leadership will seem excessive to readers who believe that the Iraqi army was a pushover. Flanagan is a retired Army lieutenant general. Photos.
Copyright 1994 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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