Of all the weapons the U.S. Army used during Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM, none became more instantly recognizable than the boxy Patriot air defense missile-system. Sometimes described as a dumpster on hydraulic lifters, it contributed to the coalition's victory in the war in the Persian Gulf on several levels. Lauding the Patriot's military and diplomatic achievements, General Schwarzkopf predicted that "when the history of DESERT STORM is written, the Patriot system will be singled out as the key" and that the "Patriot's success has ensured [U.N.] coalition solidarity." Despite its achievements, the Patriot had its weaknesses, and as a weapon system it was almost not available in time.
The Patriot was a product of the Cold War confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union. Both nations employed German rocket scientists captured at the end of World War II to develop ballistic missiles. These missiles were derived from the V-2 rocket and from the lesser-known German surface-to-air missile called Wasserfall (Waterfall), which the Germans flight-tested in early 1944 but were unable to field before the war ended. The research and development effort that eventually produced the Patriot system began in 1965 due to similar work in the Soviet Union that resulted in the fielding of the first Russian tactical ballistic missile in the early 1960s.
The Army awarded a contract to the Massachusetts-based Raytheon Company in 1967 for a new air defense missile to be called Surface-to-Air Missile-Developmental (SAM-D), which was to carry either a nuclear or a conventional warhead. In 1969 an American missile scored its first success against a tactical ballistic missile. The Nike Hercules, the successor to the first operational American surface-to-air missile, the Nike-Ajax, intercepted first an Army Corporal ballistic missile and later the same year another Nike-Hercules. The Nike-Hercules used a nuclear warhead to assure destruction of the incoming nuclear device. But the SAM-D program languished until the mid-1970s.
The SAM-D experimental flights impressed the incoming administration of President Jimmy Carter, who decided to continue funding and even hastened development. Moreover, the project's adherents, responding to the excitement of the 1976 bicentennial celebration of the American Revolution, dropped the prosaic label of SAM-D and applied the catchier tag of "Patriot." In what was reputed to be a political ploy to achieve the backing of House of Representatives Speaker Thomas P "Tip" O'Neill of Massachusetts, the Carter administration approved the Army's production contract with Raytheon on the eve of the 1980 election. Though Carter's bid for reelection failed, the Patriot was well placed to take advantage of the generous defense funding policies of the newly elected administration of President Ronald Reagan.
During Reagan's first term the Pentagon had a large budget, and work on fielding and improving the Patriot accelerated. After overcoming some reliability problems, the Patriot was issued in 1985 to units of the 32d Army Air Defense Command, a major subordinate command of U.S. Army, Europe. At this point, the Patriot was capable only of shooting down aircraft, including helicopters. A major effort to improve the capabilities of the Patriot system was already under way.
President Reagan soon announced his intention to build a space and ground-based missile defense for the United States called the Strategic Defense Initiative or, more commonly, Star Wars. Riding on the coattails and enjoying the benefits of the program, work on upgrading the Patriot began in earnest in 1984 under the aegis of the U.S. Army Missile Command. The United States did not consider the project in violation of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty because the resulting enhanced Patriot would not be able to destroy a Soviet Intercontinental Ballistic Missile. The Missile Command's effort was built on a foundation of research and development laid down during the later Carter years that had taken advantage of advances in microchip technology and that had aimed toward adding an antiballistic missile capability to the Patriot.
The Missile Command's work began to bear fruit in the mid- to late 1980s. Important modifications to the system's software sharpened the missile's tracking ability, and changes in the fuzing and warhead of the missile itself increased the probability of a "warhead kill," destroying the incoming missile's offensive power. Labeled Patriot antitactical ballistic missile capability, phase 1 (PAC-1), the first of the software upgrades was tested by the Army at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, in 1986. In that year a Patriot missile, guided by special developmental software, intercepted an Army Lance surface-to-surface tactical missile. The test showed that a Patriot missile was capable of knocking a tactical missile off course, making a "mission kill," but was not likely to achieve a warhead kill. During 1987, in the first PAC-1 missile firing, the Patriot intercepted another Patriot configured to mimic the performance of recent tactical missiles. Early limitations notwithstanding, the Army let a contract for production of the improved software. In 1988 the first Patriot units were ready to operate with the PAC-1 software, while modifications to the missile's warhead and fuze were to follow.
When DESERT SHIELD began in August 1990, the production contract for the improved PAC-2 missile had been let, but actual production had not begun. Furthermore, the PAC-2 software upgrade, called Post Deployment Build-3 (PDB-3), had already been produced and was about to be introduced to Patriot units, beginning with the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade at Fort Bliss, Texas, but that effort had not started either. This relatively short but intense attempt to provide the Army with an effective defense against tactical ballistic missiles was due to the accelerated missile development by the Soviet Union and the simultaneous spread of such weapons, often provided by the Soviets, among Third World military forces. Even through the period of DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM, research never ended. The Army produced and installed six different new versions of PDB-3 software in its ongoing effort to assure a warhead kill.
In the early 1960s the Soviets fielded their first tactical missile, known within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as the Surface-to-Surface-lA (SS-1A) Scunner or, more commonly, the Scud. The second production model, with extended range, was the Scud-B, which the Soviets began to phase out of their own inventories by the early 1970s but which they continued to produce and deliver to client states, such as Iraq in the early 1980s. Over the years the Iraqis upgraded their Scud-Bs, and of the two most commonly developed variants, the Al-Abbas and the Al-Hussein, the latter one was fired at targets in Israel and Saudi Arabia.
The Al-Hussein missile itself was about 37 feet long and was carried on a multiwheeled, heavy-duty transporter-erector-launcher and supported by several additional vehicles to provide command and control, weather information, and fueling. Unlike the Soviet Scud-B, which had a range of about 175 miles, the Al-Hussein could travel about 400 miles. The Iraqis paid a price in effectiveness to extend the range of the Al-Hussein, which had been accomplished by reducing the weight of the warhead, lengthening the fuselage, and increasing the size of the rocket motor and the amount of fuel. The Al-Hussein's reduced payload of 350 pounds was less than that of the Scud-B, and its accuracy was also less than its Soviet progenitor. Moreover, the modifications had compromised the structural integrity of the rocket, so it often broke apart on the plunge toward its target. The separation of Scuds into three parts-warhead, fuel tanks, and rocket motor-as they descended, known to the missile crews as the blossoming effect, meant that five incoming Scuds could appear on radar screens as fifteen. Although intelligence estimates varied, the Iraqis had five hundred to one thousand Al-Hussein Scuds when the Persian Gulf crisis began and about thirty-two fixed and thirty-six mobile launchers.
Although there were numerous organizational permutations during DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM, the standard Patriot missile system fire unit (analogous to "battery" in more standard military lexicon) that deployed to the field contained several major pieces of materiel. The functional center of the battery was the engagement control station, an air-conditioned van outfitted with sophisticated, computer-driven equipment. This station received information concerning the location of targets and dispatched launch commands to the battery's missiles.
The battery searched for and tracked the targets with its radar set, the most important part of which was the multifunction phased-array radar. The fixed, trailer-mounted system contained over five thousand radiating elements that searched the sky in a broad left to right arc from the horizon to nearly straight overhead, depending on the target. The radar could track many missiles and aircraft out to great ranges simultaneously. Connected to the operators' screens in the engagement control station, the phased-array radar was the "eyes of the battery."
The offensive power of the battery was embodied in the launcher stations, with as many as eight arrayed around the engagement control station according to the situation. Every launcher station contained four missiles, each in its own canister, aimed skyward in the direction of a potentially threatening missile or aircraft. The Patriot missiles were fired by electronic command from the engagement control station. During the Persian Gulf crisis, Patriot batteries were often equipped with a mixed load of PAC-1 and PAC-2 missiles, which could be fired simultaneously during an engagement at different targets.
The remaining major components of a Patriot battery were the antenna mast group, used for ultra-high frequency communications between batteries and with battalion headquarters; the command post, from which the captain commanding the battery directed operations; and the electric power plant, which consisted of two truck-mounted 150-kilowatt generators operated in rotation to provide electrical power for the battery. A Gulf crisis Patriot battery operated with an authorized strength of about eighty-eight operators and maintainers.
With its excellent phased-array radar, a Patriot battery could search for, detect, identify, track, engage, and destroy a missile without external help, even from the battalion's information coordination center that normally controlled the Patriot's participation in a battle against conventional aircraft. However, no such encounter occurred during the Gulf crisis. Rather in the case of an incoming projectile, approaching about six times the speed of sound in the case of an Iraqi Scud, the Patriot radar picked it up as it started to descend toward its target in the final minutes of flight, known as the terminal phase. Because of the late moment at which the Patriot engaged its targets, it was designated a "terminal defense" system.
Less than a minute before impact, the Patriot system's weapon control computer fired or gave the signal to fire PAC-2 missiles less than two seconds apart. The seventeen-foot PAC-2 consisted of upgraded components-fuze, warhead, solid propellant, and control fins-and incorporated the unique, semiactive track-via-missile guidance system. Originally designed in the 1950s to guide antitank missiles to their targets, the system was adapted to the Patriot research and development effort and flight-tested during the mid-1970s. The test at White Sands showed the remarkable accuracy of track-via-missile guidance, even against a maneuvering target drone.
The Iraqi Scud variants were really rockets, rather than missiles. They employed inertial guidance, which meant that once they had been emplaced, aligned, and fired, their flight to the target could not be controlled and was subject to the vagaries of winds and weather aloft. The trajectory of most such projectiles was highly predictable: they ascended to a height of about 160,000 feet above ground level, outside the earth's atmosphere, and then plummeted directly onto their target.
When a Scud appeared on a Patriot operator's radar screen and was identified, the system fired its missiles at it, activating the track-via-missile guidance system. As the Patriot neared its target, only seconds away from interception, the semiactive tracking component began to receive phased-array radar emissions reflected off the incoming projectile. The guidance system then relayed this information to the weapon control computer, which transmitted mid-course correction data back to the missile. As the Patriot neared its target, traveling about three times the speed of sound and within milliseconds of interception, the guidance system took over guidance from the weapon control computer. Using ever-stronger phased-array radar emissions reflected off the incoming rocket, the Patriot's own steering commands, now directing the control fins, in theory almost ensured an interception.
The longer-range Patriot PAC-2 had both fuze and warhead improvements over its PAC-1 predecessor. When the PAC-2 and the target were within microseconds of each other, hurtling along at a closing velocity of almost ten times the speed of sound, the Patriot's upgraded proximity fuze exploded its enhanced fragmentation warhead, creating a veil of shrapnel that destroyed the target's warhead or at least knocked it off course and away from its intended target area. Once a successful engagement was over and nuclear-biological-chemical survey and monitoring teams determined that no hazards were present, the battery signaled "all clear," dispatched damage inspection teams, and began the process of reloading its missile launcher stations with the million-dollar-a-copy PAC-2s. Such was the manner in which Patriot missile systems engaged and destroyed Iraqi Scuds.
One part of the June and July 1990 command post exercise known as INTERNAL LOOK involved the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, which was attached to the XVIII Airborne Corps' rapid deployment force. The 11th Brigade's part in the exercise involved briefings in late July by the newly installed brigade commander, Col. Joseph G. Garrett 111, to the Central Command and ARCENT commanders and staffs on the capabilities of his brigade. Garrett highlighted the deployment and operational potential of the Patriot air defense missile system in his briefings.
Shortly afterward, General Schwarzkopf, at the request of Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Powell, briefed the military service chiefs in the Pentagon and other defense leaders at Camp David on the situation in and around Kuwait and the options for a response. After the invasion, Schwarzkopf's briefings centered on executing his operations plan for driving Iraqi forces from Kuwait. Schwarzkopf's discussion focused on two threats: Iraq's chemical weapons and its large ground force, which had the capability to invade Saudi Arabia. Saddam Hussein was known to have moved a number of his Scuds to the desert of western Iraq in April 1990 and had said he would launch the chemical ones at Israel. General Powell's response to Schwarzkopf at Camp David was that "there's a deterrence piece and a warfighting piece. The sooner we put something in place to deter, the better we are. What we can get there most quickly is air power." The Patriot was part of both the deterrent and war-fighting capability that Central Command would have to assemble.
Apparently, Garrett's air defense message to Central Command had registered. As soon as President George H. Bush decided to send American forces to Saudi Arabia, Central Command asked for a Patriot unit from Fort Bliss as an additional demonstration of U.S. resolve in the crisis. The request, however, did not indicate what size unit, a battery or a whole battalion, would be sent, and the post staff at Fort Bliss, home of Air Defense Artillery and Garrett's 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, opened the fort's emergency operations center and began to plan for deploying the Patriot missile system.
Army Central Command had already alerted the 11th Brigade to deploy as much as a Patriot battalion. So the post and brigade staffs began to sort out the details of airlifting the Patriot to Saudi Arabia, which was the only practical way of quickly getting the missile system there. While reviewing load plans for Air Force C-5 Galaxies and C-141 Starlifters, the brigade staff asked White Sands for a count of Patriot missiles on hand. The 11th Brigade had only less capable PAC-1 missiles in its inventory, because PAC-2 production had not started yet. The initial mission of the deploying Patriot unit, to provide air defense for ports, airfields, logistical bases, and command and control centers, demanded PAC-2s to fend off the Scuds that Iraq could launch at these valuable and vulnerable targets.
White Sands had a total of three PAC-2 missiles, which were all being used in testing. Moreover, these were the only three PAC-2s in existence. Within a few days Fort Bliss had received permission from Missile Command to ship the White Sands missiles with the 11th Brigade's first Patriot unit. The post's resident ordnance battalion sent elements of a heavy truck company to White Sands. The three PAC-2s were disconnected from their testing instruments and carried back to Biggs Army Air Field, adjacent to Fort Bliss, to be prepared for shipment. So hurried was the retrieval of the missiles that they still bore the word experimental stenciled on their sides.
Around midnight on 11 August 1990, with none of the usual fanfare accorded deploying soldiers because of the need for secrecy, Battery B, 2d Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery, from one of the 11th Brigade's two Patriot battalions, loaded personnel and equipment aboard three C-5s for the flight to Saudi Arabia. Because of the uncertainty of what lay ahead, Battery B had been augmented with shorter-range air defense weapon systems, but almost nothing beyond the soldiers and the unit's firing components was on board the aircraft. Battery B landed at the airport in Dhahran, unloaded, and set up to fire, all within forty-eight hours after leaving Fort Bliss. Had Saddam Hussein then decided to start an invasion of Saudi Arabia with a saturation barrage of Scud missiles, the battery would have been unable to prevent it.
With the PAC-2s not scheduled for delivery until January 1991, the Army's air defense community tried to rectify the situation. Uniformed leaders, in conjunction with Raytheon, put the existing PAC-2 missile production contract into operation. They achieved quick success. Martin Marietta Corporation, the subcontractor that actually built the missiles, shipped five of them in September directly from its Orlando, Florida, factory to Saudi Arabia. Production continued around the clock through September. The accelerating flow of PAC-2s to the increasing number of Patriot units in Southwest Asia was sufficient by the time DESERT STORM began to conduct wartime operations with some confidence. A total of 158 PAC-2 missiles were launched at Scuds during the war, but about 3,000 Patriot missiles of all kinds were on hand at the end of the conflict.
Deployment of Battery B, as well as the air defense components of the 82d Airborne Division's 1st Brigade, signaled the beginning of a steady flow of air defense units to Saudi Arabia, a significant number of which were equipped with the Patriot. Deployment continued into the air campaign phase of DESERT STORM and included the repositioning of individual Patriot batteries and whole battalions from the Persian Gulf island emirate of Bahrain to significant portions of Saudi Arabia and Turkey but initially not to Israel. In addition to protecting the normal range of strategic targets, Patriot units, often in task forces with HAWK antiaircraft missile units, provided air defense for the major ground forces. For example, Task Force SCORPION, made up of the HAWK batteries comprising 2d Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery, as well as three Patriot batteries from 3d Battalion, 43d Air Defense Artillery, all with the 11th Brigade, provided mobile air defense for the XVIII Airborne Corps. All of the American Patriot units that fought in DESERT STORM were drawn from the 11th Brigade and from several similar brigades of U.S. Army, Europe's 32d Army Air Defense Command.
The primary, higher-level air defense unit during DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM was the 11th Brigade. Its commander, Colonel Garrett, was the senior Army air defense officer in the theater of operations. He commanded his brigade from its headquarters, first in Dhahran and later at King Khalid Military City, and functioned as the primary air defense artillery officer at Central Command and Army Central Command.
When deployment of his brigade and additional air defense units was completed in February 1991, the geographic area over which Garrett exercised command and control was enormous, extending from the Persian Gulf coast across the Arabian Peninsula about 1,000 miles to the city of Tabuk, near the northern end of the Red Sea. Within that vast space, every
Patriot battery defended a "footprint," a programmable and variable geographic area of about 6 to 12 miles in diameter around the battery itself. Operating over such a massive area that covered thousands of square miles created acute problems in maintaining communications and providing a logistical lifeline between Garrett's various air defense units.
The problem of maintaining communications was especially serious for the Patriot units because of the nature of their potential targets. They had to defend against attacks by Iraq's plentiful arsenal of Scud missiles. Patriot ultra-high frequency communications lacked the range to allow the brigade command post, or even in some cases the individual battalion headquarters, to pass on information from the Air Force or other sources to alert the individual batteries in case of a Scud launch. With the Scuds reaching a terminal velocity of Mach 6, time was of the absolute essence in launching Patriots against them.
Two sources of information on potential targets supplemented the Patriot's phased-array radar by providing very early warning or "cuing." One was geared to conventional Iraqi aircraft and the other to Scud missiles. Schwarzkopf's Air Force component included the 552d Airborne Warning and Control System Wing. The wing's E-3 Sentry aircraft, an Air Force version of the Boeing 707 commercial airliner that had a large radar dish, contained the electronic surveillance and communications equipment to track and identify Iraqi aircraft, including helicopters. The E-3s relayed data electronically to an Air Force ground station known as the control and reporting center. From there, the information went to Army air defense units, beginning with the brigade headquarters, then a battalion information control center, and finally a battery engagement control station. While this form of early warning was useful to Patriot units during DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM, especially in clarifying identification of allied aircraft, it was not tested in battle.
The other source of cuing was tried and proved in combat. The United States Space Command, headquartered in Cheyenne Mountain, near Colorado Springs, Colorado, had Defense Support Program missile warning satellites, originally designed and emplaced to detect Soviet intercontinental ballistic missile launches. These spacecraft were in geosynchronous orbit high above the earth's surface and able frequently to point their infrared telescopes toward Iraq.
When the Iraqis launched a Scud, the thermal signature from the plume of flame, created when the rocket motor burned its liquid fuel, was detected by a Defense Support Program satellite. The satellite relayed the information through a ground station in the Pacific to Cheyenne Mountain. From there the data were retransmitted through a communications satellite to a Patriot battalion information control center. Because time was at a premium in defending against Scuds, Patriot batteries were
themselves occasionally connected to a communications satellite. While a Scud stayed in the air about seven minutes from launch to impact, the satellite warning took less time after detection to get to a Patriot battery. A number of so-called gizmos enabled the generally incompatible Air Force and Army communications equipment to function together. In many cases these were prototype pieces of hardware that took Air Force communications information and translated it so that similar Army equipment could read and display it. The remaining minute or two gave enough time to bring the battery, or batteries, to full operational status, and then detect, identify, track, engage, and destroy the incoming Scud or Scuds.
Much appreciated by air defense crews, cuing from satellites provided the Patriot units with the knowledge that a Scud launch had taken place and the missile's general direction of flight. That information kept battery and battalion commanders from having to keep all of their radars and missile launchers at full alert around the clock. With space-based cuing, crews and equipment were rested and maintained more systematically, improving their effectiveness.
With nearly six months to deploy, train, and generally prepare, the Patriot systems and their crews in Saudi Arabia achieved a finely tuned state of readiness by the time Operation DESERT STORM'S air campaign started. In the predawn hours of 17 January 1991, after the last American hostages had been evacuated from Iraq and the United Nations ultimatum for Saddam Hussein to leave Kuwait had expired, coalition aircraft began a massive air assault against Iraq, focusing primarily on command and control centers, air defense sites, and fixed Scud launchers. After declaring that "Iraq will never surrender," Saddam Hussein lobbed several Scuds at Israel. The Patriot missile system was already scheduled for delivery to Israel, but the equipment did not actually arrive until just a few weeks before DESERT STORM began. Meanwhile, the crews trained at the Air Defense Artillery School at Fort Bliss and were not due to complete the Patriot course until early in 1991.'2
On 17 January and again two days later, Iraqi Scuds, fired from fixed sites and mobile launchers in the desert of far western Iraq, fell on the Israeli cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa, causing locally heavy damage and killing and wounding relatively few Israelis but bringing potentially enormous political ramifications. The natural and historic reaction of the State of Israel and its people to such a direct military challenge was retaliation. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir resisted pressure to strike back from the Israeli military and a hard-line faction within his ruling Likud Party. Retaliation could have transformed the fight over Kuwait into another Arab-Israeli conflict, which could have shattered the fragile coalition.
Realizing the risk at hand, the Bush administration pressed Israel for restraint. President Bush himself called Prime Minister Shamir and urged such a course. Shamir was already so inclined but needed a gesture that would add substance to American diplomatic efforts. Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence S. Eagleburger had gone to Israel just before DESERT STORM began and offered to have two American Patriot PAC-2 batteries sent to Israel. After the opening round of Scud attacks on Tel Aviv and Haifa, against which the Israelis had no defense, Secretary of Defense Cheney also offered to airlift two American Patriot batteries to Israel. Never before had Israel used any foreign military force to strengthen its own defenses, but Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Arens accepted the offer. Quickly the call went out to the 32d Army Air Defense Command in Europe to alert and prepare Patriot units for airlift to Israel.
Meanwhile, Saddam Hussein launched yet more Scuds, this time from mobile launchers in Kuwait and southern Iraq toward targets in Saudi Arabia. At about half past four on the morning of 17 January, shortly after the air campaign began, the on-duty crew of Battery A, 2d Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery, 11th Brigade, a Patriot unit located to protect the Dhahran airport, was alerted and signaled to don gas masks and chemical warfare suits. Without satellite cuing, Battery A loosed two Patriot missiles into the sky over the airport. Looking from a distance like Roman candles but with a thunderous clap indicating something far mightier, the Patriots leaped skyward, maneuvered, and apparently engaged their target. It was over in a matter of seconds. In the process, history's first wartime engagement of a tactical rocket by an antitactical ballistic missile seemed to have occurred.
During the night of 21-22 January, the so-called battle of Riyadh featured numerous apparent Scuds descending on the Saudi Arabian capital. The blossoming effect produced far more targets than were actually there, but the Patriot crews weeded through the radar clutter and engaged every legitimate target. Destruction of a Scud sometimes produced a small-scale version of the blossoming effect. A new PDB-3 software version was produced to help the overall system track, identify, engage, and destroy "real" targets. In addition, many Patriot batteries began to operate in manual mode. The weapon control computer performed its normal functions, but the actual launching of the Patriot missiles was executed manually by a crew member in the engagement control station, prompted by the system.
Two Patriot batteries from the 32d Army Air Defense Command's 10th Air Defense Artillery Brigade were designated for the airlift to Israel. The 10th Brigade had not trained for airborne deployment for a contingency operation outside Europe. Inexperience notwithstanding, the task began, assisted by the 32d Army Air Defense Command staff, which had already arranged the seaborne deployment of some of the command's units to Saudi Arabia. The batteries were equipped with the PAC-2 missile, and the crews had learned the PDB-3 software in November 1990. Using air
craft from the Israeli state airline, E1 A1, as well as Air Force C-5s and C-141s, the batteries began to arrive at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport on 19 January, barely a day after receiving notification to deploy from Germany. Time was clearly short. The same day that the first Patriot battery landed and became minimally operational, Scuds again attacked Tel Aviv. About seventeen Israelis were injured, and Israel vowed to defend itself. In only three days from their arrival, both 10th Brigade Patriot batteries were fully operational, in time to receive another salvo of Scuds.
On that day, 22 January, an Iraqi Scud penetrated the U.S. Patriot missile defenses at Tel Aviv and landed in one of the city's suburbs, where three people died of heart attacks, about one hundred were injured, and around nine hundred were forced to evacuate their damaged homes. With Scud missiles now falling regularly on Israel's cities, the Israeli Air Force had summoned its Patriot system operators home on 18 January from Fort Bliss, where they had nearly completed their training. Leaving behind the system's maintainers to finish their course work, the operators were strengthened with about twenty fully trained American maintainers from Fort Bliss. These cobbled-together, international crews arrived in Israel on 20 January, received a further augmentation of American Patriot soldiers, and were ready to operate within twenty-four hours. The two Israeli Patriot batteries came under the operational control, but not the command, of Col. David K. Heebner, commander of the 10th Brigade.
Though the four American and Israeli Patriot batteries did well, some Scuds got through. The diplomatically explosive situation called for extra measures, because four batteries alone were not enough to defend the sprawling urban areas of Tel Aviv and Haifa. Two additional batteries from the 32d Army Air Defense Command's 94th Air Defense Artillery Brigade flew to Israel to enhance the defense, and in time the Dutch contributed a battery of their own to the effort. The Dutch battery defended Jerusalem and communicated with the American and Israeli Patriot crews by secure telephone.
After the first two weeks of DESERT STORM, Scud attacks on Israel and Saudi Arabia virtually ceased. During that time, the various Patriot battalion and brigade headquarters in Saudi Arabia and Israel had established a variety of means of collecting, analyzing, and sharing data from Scud attacks. Among these were training and testing teams, checklists, and seminars. In effect, the Patriot crews studied the experience as they lived it, and their increased proficiency may have helped deter further launches.
The air campaign had a more direct effect on the declining number of Scud launches. The combination of air attacks against targets such as early warning radar sites and the failure of the Iraqi air force to come up and fight for control of the skies led General Schwarzkopf on 30 January to announce that the allies had achieved air supremacy, meaning their aircraft could roam the skies over Iraq with virtual impunity. Without a full-fledged air battle to wage, allied ground attack aircraft turned to the task of destroying Iraq's Scud launchers. Though enjoying more success
against fixed sites than against mobile launchers, which often used overcast weather to shield their firings from satellites and aircraft-borne telescopes and radars, allied tactical airplanes kept the mobile Scuds on the move, reducing their effectiveness and even destroying some of them. By the time the ground campaign began, the Scud threat against Israel and Saudi Arabia seemed to have passed.
Two Patriot task forces supported Army troops in the ground offensive. Task Force SCORPION, the oversized HAWK-Patriot battalion, provided air defense for the XVIII Airborne Corps. The VII Corps, which had no air defense brigade attached as part of its force structure to go with the air defense battalions that served with each of its maneuver divisions, formed another mixed HAWK-Patriot battalion from units of the 32d Army Air Defense Command's 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade. Dubbed Task Force 8/43, it had four Patriot batteries from the 8th Battalion, 43d Air Defense Artillery, and two HAWK batteries from the 6th Battalion, 52d Air Defense Artillery. Task Force SCORPION and elements of Task Force 8/43, as well as air defense units positioned along the northwest-running main supply route DODGE, or Tapline Road, provided air defense for the long march of the XVIII Airborne Corps to its jumping-off points out in the desert along the Iraqi-Saudi border.
None of the Patriot missiles of Task Force SCORPION made it into Iraq, but 8/43 furnished air defense against aircraft and Scud missiles while elements of Vll Corps breached the Iraqi defensive berm in their front. Then as Vll Corps surged through the breach and wheeled to the east with the rest of the allied force, the vehicles of 8/43 carried their HAWK and Patriot air defense missile systems along with the advance.
While the United Nations forces outmaneuvered and began destroying the Iraqi army, Saddam Hussein turned once more to his Scuds. On 24 February the Iraqis lofted several Scuds in the direction of Israel's Dimona nuclear facility. The Scuds missed and impacted harmlessly in the nearby desert. On the night of 25 February a lone Scud got by the Patriot defenses in Saudi Arabia, slamming into a metal warehouse near Dhahran at Al Khubar. The warehouse had been converted into transient billets to house over one hundred soldiers from several commands. With the Scud's detonation, the entire structure collapsed and turned instantly into a pile of twisted girders and sheet metal. In all, 28 American soldiers were killed and 97 wounded. Thirteen of the dead and 37 of the injured were from a western Pennsylvania Army National Guard unit, the 14th Quartermaster Detachment. On no other occasion during all of Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM were more U.S. military personnel killed or wounded.
Less than two full days later, with the Iraqi army nearly in ruins and Kuwait at last liberated, President Bush suspended military operations and laid out the terms for a permanent cease-fire. An informal end to the fighting soon went into effect.
In the final analysis, the Patriot missile made major contributions to the success of Operation DESERT STORM. Though some allied tactical aircraft were diverted to hunt for the elusive mobile Scud launchers, the air phase stayed on track and on schedule in large part because the Patriots were able to deal with the Scuds, which were employed in a piecemeal fashion by an unimaginative enemy. The Patriot also helped keep preparation and execution of the land campaign on schedule by eliminating the need to divert maneuver units to the task of searching for mobile Scuds. In short, the Patriot reduced the Scud to a minor operational irritant. And last, Saddam Hussein's use of Scuds as a terror weapon to goad the Israelis into a reprisal that would possibly unravel the fragile coalition or to panic the Saudis and crush their will to resist came to naught. Overall, the Patriot blunted the foe's only truly effective offensive weapon.