Iraq Launches Attack Against U.S. Troops
The American military said it used Patriot missiles to shoot down
at least one Iraq (news
sites) missile. In the Kuwaiti desert, an Iraqi missile flew
overhead and landed harmlessly in the desert.
No injuries were reported, and there was no immediate evidence
the missiles had chemical or biological warheads. It was not clear
whether the Iraqi missiles were Scuds or Al Samoud 2s.
The Iraqi attack came several hours after the United States
launched precision-guided bombs and more than 40 Tomahawk missiles
in strikes it said were aimed at Saddam Hussein (news
sites) and his top leadership.
U.S. Army troops at Camp New Jersey in the Kuwaiti desert put on
their chemical and biological protective gear in response to an
alert caused by one of the missiles, but were given the all-clear a
few minutes later.
At another, undisclosed position in the desert along the Iraqi
border, the men of A Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment
were eating lunch when the Iraqi missile hit the desert. The
locomotive-like roar of the missile flying through the air followed
the sound of impact because of the distances involved.
Within a minute, a flash message came across the radio, reporting
that a tactical ballistic missile had landed in the desert, near
U.S. troops. A few minutes later, all troops were ordered to don
their gas masks and their protective clothing for chemical and
The men moved swiftly but calmly, systematically putting on their
masks, then the clothing. Once one soldier was done, he would go
over and make sure another soldier had his gear on properly.
Then they waited in the desert heat for further orders.
About 20 minutes later, the radio crackled, "All clear."
"Damn, I had just put a pinch of chew in when the order came
down" to put on gas masks, said Spc. Dean Bryant of Oklahoma City,
lamenting the loss of valuable chewing tobacco. "I wasn't quite
expecting that. It makes me a little frustrated."
After removing his mask, company commander Capt. Chris Carter of
Watkinsville, Ga., said: "Saddam is a fool."
"I think its an obvious attempt by Saddam Hussein to demoralize
the army and the American public," Carter said. "An attempt that has
been a miserable failure. He's probably got the guys more ready to
fight than ever."
After weeks on standby in the Kuwaiti desert, U.S. troops
appeared to welcome news that war was under way and said they were
eager for orders to cross into Iraq.
"It's a relief we can finally go," said Spc. Robert McDougal, 21,
of Paris, Texas, as the 101st Airborne broke camp Thursday.
"Standing by is the hardest thing to do. It is time to put our
training to the test."
Scores of vehicles, including bulldozers, Humvees and trucks full
of equipment and supplies, lined up in Camp New Jersey, ready to
move out. A dust storm that buffeted the troops on Wednesday had
eased, giving way to a relatively cool morning in the low 80s with a
Soldiers were up at dawn, cleaning tents and stuffing items into
duffel bags. Some tried to slip out to the dining facility for one
last hot meal before leaving.
Sgt. Brian McGough, 27, Philadelphia, sat by his automatic
grenade launcher as he loaded rucksacks into storage containers.
"No one ever prays for war, but if it comes to that we are
trained to do it," he said. "We all have high morale. We'll do fine.
But there is always the unknown factor. You just have to be flexible
and react to what happens."
Elsewhere in Kuwait, members of the 709th Military Police
Battalion learned about the strikes on Baghdad from a reporter.
"Good. At least we know what we will be doing in the next three
days," said Lt. Col. Richard Vanderlinden, the battalion commander.
He said his MPs would follow on the heels of advancing U.S. forces,
dealing with prisoners of war and displaced Iraqi civilians.
Some Iraqi soldiers have surrendered already. An officer with the
3rd infantry Division, briefing reporters on condition on anonymity,
said entire Iraqi divisions are expected to surrender swiftly.
Aboard the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk in the Persian Gulf,
ordnance crews in protective headgear and red life vests wheeled
500-, 1,000- and 2,000-pound bombs along the flight deck Thursday
and fitted them under the wings of F-14 Tomcats and F/A-18 Hornets.
The bombs, equipped with laser guidance systems, were marked with
yellow stripes on their nose to indicate they were live munitions.
Military officials said the Tomahawk missiles fired at Baghdad in
the opening salvo were launched from warships in the Red Sea and
Persian Gulf — the destroyers USS Milius and USS Donald Cook; the
cruisers USS Bunker Hill and USS Cowpens; and the attack submarines
USS Montpelier and USS Cheyenne.