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Battle of Norfolk
Part of the Persian Gulf War
Date 27 February 1991
Location Iraq
Result Coalition victory
Belligerents
 United States,
 United Kingdom
 Iraq
Commanders
United States Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. Iraq Saddam Hussein
Casualties and losses
6 killed (5 from friendly fire)
30 wounded
Heavy
500 captured

The Battle of Norfolk was a tank battle fought on 27 February 1991, during the Gulf War, between armored forces of the United States Army and those of the Iraqi Republican Guard.

The battle took place about 60 miles (100 kilometers) east of and 18 hours after the Battle of Al Busayyah, and several kilometers east of the Battle of 73 Easting, which had ended just two hours earlier. The Battle of Norfolk is named for Objective Norfolk, an area that encompassed the intersection of the IPSA Pipeline Road and several desert trails and a large Iraqi supply depot defended by Iraqi armor. Objective Norfolk was located west of Phase Line Kiwi, east of Phase Line Smash, and north of Phase Line Grape. Phase lines are map references occurring every few kilometers used to measure progress of an offensive operation.

The forces involved in the battle were the American 1st Infantry Division, the 3rd Bde (Black Heart Brigade) of the 2nd Armored Division (Hell on Wheels) and the Iraqi 18th Mechanized and 9th Armored Brigades of the Tawakalna Mechanized Infantry Division.

Contents

The Breach

On the night of 23/24 February 1991, 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 Corps units moving into Kuwait to the south.

Led by Major General Thomas Rhame, the 1st Infantry Division pushed through the Iraqi defenses. The 1st Division opened fire on the Iraqi defenses with tank fire and destroyed four tanks with TOW missiles.

In the end, the division succeeded in decimating the Iraqi 26th Infantry Division, and taking over 500 prisoners. The 1st Infantry Division also suffered a casualty, with one soldier being killed by an Iraqi land mine.

The Main Battle

The Battle of Norfolk, in a sense a continuation of the fighting that began with the Battle of 73 Easting the day before, began at 12:30 am on 27 February. The two attacking brigades of the 1st Infantry Division, including the 3rd Bde 2nd Armored Division, were positioned along the 75 Easting, 2,000 meters east of 73 Easting. The Brigades clashed with the Iraqi Tawakalna Division of the Republican Guard, including the 37th Brigade of the 12th Iraqi Tank Division.

With air support from the 1/1 Attack Helicopter Battalion preventing Iraqi artillery from interfering, the 1st ID conducted a passage of the 2nd ACR's lines. In the following three hours the 1st ID methodically crossed the ten kilometers of Objective Norfolk, destroying Iraqi trucks, tank, and infantry units through thick fog. In the thick of the fog of war, U.S. units became mixed with Iraqi units dispersed throughout the desert. This confusion led to the largest number of friendly fire incidents throughout the war.

By dawn, the 1st US Infantry Division controlled Objective Norfolk and the Tawakalna Mechanized Infantry Division had ceased to exist as a fighting force. American casualties were 6 soldiers killed, all but one by friendly fire, and 30 wounded.

External links

Bibliography

  • Crusade: The Untold Story of the Persian Gulf War, by Rick Atkinson, Houghton Mifflin, 1993.

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