tv 1st Infantry Operation Desert Storm CSPAN June 9, 2018 8:55pm-10:00pm EDT
colonel fontenot, a tank battalion commander during the 1991 gulf war, focuses on the changes the division went through after the vietnam war and how those innovations helped them engage and defeat at least a dozen iraqi divisions during "operation desert storm." the kansas city public library hosted this hour-long event. steven: good evening everybody. my name is steven woolfolk at the kansas city public library. it is a pleasure to be here tonight. i've been thinking for a few years now about doing a program about desert storm, and we had a few ideas and i wondered if we were far enough removed to be able to take an historical look at it. so when the university of missouri press approached us about hosting our speaker tonight, i took that as a sign that it was indeed time to stop
thinking of desert storm as a current event issue and start taking a more contemplative look from a historical point of view. the book is "first infantry division and operation desert storm: the road to victory in desert storm." the book is for sale out side courtesy of our friends at the library. the book examines the period between 1970 and 1991, when the u.s. army was rebuilding following world war i and on its way to becoming the world's preeminent combat force. the author is gregory fontenot. he is uniquely qualified to tell the story. he served during that time. commissioned in 1971 as an armory officer, he went on to become a respected commander and one of the army's premier trainers. we are pleased to have him tonight. please welcome gregory fontenot. >> [applause] col. fontenot: thanks very much. i'm delighted to be here tonight. buy books, that is why i am here. but i am also here because of
want to talk to you about america's army, the army that you pay for. though steve said this book covers the time from the end of world war i to 1991, in truth in advertising, it is only 1970 to 1991. but, in fact, this is the centennial of the first infantry division. it was formed in june of 1917. a soldier from second battalion 16th infantry was a quartermaster officer of the first division who was brought to the center of paris with the second italian of -- second batallion of the 16th infantry, where he said "lafayette, we are here." in april 1918, this month, the first infantry division moved in the line and in may, attacked a small town. its combat record began from then. i am a first infantry division soldier, and i proud of it. i never expected to write about it, but when somebody offered you the chance for the research, you take it on. thanks, steve, for the introduction. my wife, dana, and i are delighted to be here in kansas city.
we love this city. i remember the first time i saw it, in january 14, i had lived two thirds of my life in japan, france, and germany. one of the first big towns in america i saw was kansas city, missouri as we were driving to fort riley, kansas. that was january 1964. i fell in love with the city and with kansas, generally. yes, i know the missouri press published the book, but you know, you can't have everything. i am delighted to be here. a couple of people i would like to recognize, stan cherry, my favorite one-legged cavalry officer. ask him how that happened. he was the corp g3 of the 79th states corp, in which the first division served. stan and i are old friends. we spent 10 or 15 years together, six months in bosnia 20 years ago. he is a great friend. i am glad to have him. steve rotkoff is a retired army colonel and military intelligence officer. neil bradley, another retired
the deck,nel, stack bring your friends when you come to these things. jimmy, i just did a brain dump on your last name, another military intelligence officer and a frequent participant in these events. he is one of the rare army officers i know who can actually read without moving his lips. i have a friend of mine who is irish -- stan is irish, by the way -- he has two first names. patrick ryan or ryan patrick. i forget which it is. another irishman, mike burke, he and i went to the infantry officers advance course together in 1977. we were soldiers once and young. there is probably someone i have forgotten. i have a sister of a classmate of mine -- i went to school with a guy named steve glotzbach, who is from plaxico, kansas. his dad was in the army, and his sister is here tonight with her husband, who is a marine. but, you don't choose your friends on the basis of what service they were in, so i am glad to have them here. we had a korean war veteran.
hand?ould you raise your i know you are back there somewhere. god bless you. thank you for your service in the 34th united states infantry regiment of the fighting 24th infantry division. so we're going to talk about the 1st infantry division tonight. but we are going to talk about it in the context in which it served, which is the u.s. army's institutional reformation at the end of the vietnam war. those of you of a certain age will remember that the vietnam war separated the country, generally speaking, into two camps. neither camp was particularly tolerant of the other. a soldier in a uniform walking across a campus at kansas state university being spat at, missed, thank god, by someone wearing an armband that commemorated the deaths in vietnam. somehow, that was ironic to me, and i tried to point that out to them. america's army does what it is asked to do. if you look at title x of the united states code, it begins with this -- and i love this part because my brother is an air force officer. it says "the united states army of the constitution less the united states air force was
crated by law in 1947." it goes on to say " shall exist to prop and sustain land combat." that is what we do. we break things that kill people on behalf of of the united states. if you don't like that, you need to consider who you vote for. because strategic choices, including voting, have consequences. we are going to talk about three things that happened during this period from 1970 to 1991. the first is institutional change in the u.s. army. what you need to understand about armies of any kind or institutions of any kind may have traditions and legacies, but they are ephemeral, because it depends on young people coming and going. everybody doesn't join the army and stay for 30 years, most people stay for three years or four years, and relatively few stay for a career. the army changes continuously. in the days of 1970 and 1971, it was a draftee army, an army that
no longer exists. it was a citizen's army. now it is a professional force. that has different ramifications for the country and the institution. the second part of the book anals with mounting expedition. when you think about an expedition is, you are going to go somewhere to do something for certain amount of time and come back. so you have to get there, be sustained while you were there, then you have to do what you were sent to do, and then you have to come home. we used to be forward deployed, as six, we had as many divisions at one point in europe and four divisions in japan and a couple in korea. we don't have that anymore. we have a grand total of of 10 divisions and they are all at home except the second infantry division which is in korea. that is a different thing. if mounting an expedition means rail heads, ports, boats, airplanes. we will talk a little bit about that tonight. the second part of the book is about, so saddam went south
, what does that mean for us at fort riley? and the last part of the book is about what went on in the combat operations. a couple of things i want to say to you. i was talking to our friend from the korean war, and i would argue that not only was korea a forgotten war, but desert storm was. at the end of the cold war, and the hubris and the arrogance following the end of desert storm in the united states, we perceived ourselves as the world's hegemon and spread democracy on the end of a bayonet. i would like you to think about how that has turned out for us. the idea of spreading democracy sounds good and reads well, but those of us who have been spreading democracy in places like bosnia, afghanistan, when you go to a place like that, there are some places that
democracy is going to take root this week. when you ask the army to do something, you want to have thought about it carefully. i think i will press on from there and talk about doctrine and modernization of the army. i will try to work this gizmo here, there we go. the army from 1970 to 1990. in the post-vietnam era there are a couple things that happened that are really important. one of which is, the u.s. army chief of staff was william westmoreland. westmoreland takes a beating from historians about vietnam. whether or not he was the right guy for vietnam, i am not here to talk about, but i will tell you he was a first rate chief of staff. he came home from vietnam in june of 1969. he had several things on his mind. he wanted to integrate women into the force. why do you think you wanted to do that? think about it for a second. why would you want to add more women to the force in 1969? the answer is, he was a victim
of mcnamara's project 100,000. 100,000 soldiers were put in the u.s. army who did not meet that did not meet minimum standards for enlistment. westmoreland knew we could do better by integrating women into the army, and tap the talent of women, because women in those days were a better risk in terms of insurance, in terms of being trustworthy, a better risk in terms of finishing school, they had a lot of things to commend them. he wanted to put women into jungle fatigues and put them out into the fields in the 1960's in vietnam. guess who fought him? the women's army corps? why would they do that? we have a woman here who was in the women's army corps. do you remember the lime green formfitting uniforms? only barbie could wear one of those uniforms and look good, but that is what the women's army corps wanted. they had an attitude about what
women should be in the army, and it was a purview of women. they were not part of the army in the sense everybody else were think of, they were a separate institution. he wanted to change that. he wanted to revise officer education, because he knew he had a problem in the field with his officers. he wanted to establish noncommissioned officer education. it is hard to believe, but we had no life continuing education system for either officers or nco's in the 1970's. we had an informal system. not really true. we had the army war college for officers, but we had very little else and nothing for noncommissioned officers. he wanted to fix that. and finally, he wanted to get rid of things that did not make soldiers better. i grew up in an army were you picked up cigarette butts, raked leaves, washed dishes. i can remember hanging a towel at the end of my bunk for a 3:30 wakeup so i could be the first
guy at the mess hall. one day i got to be the dishwasher, the dishwasher broke down and i had to wash the dishes for a company by hand. none of that committed me to be ing a better soldier, it made me good at washing dishes, which was not a skill that was good at combat. he wanted to do that. the big five that everyone talks about. the m1 tank, the first time the u.s. army had the best tank on the battlefield was the m1 tank. we will talk a little bit about the myths associated with that tank later, the bradley, a black hawk, the apache, the patriot. they figured out how to use them. having weapons is only part of the problem. how you fight is far more important than what the weapons are. what echelons do you have? echelons meaning platoons, companies, the italians, -- companies, battalians,
brigades, what do they look like? when i first came into the army and stan came into the army during the army of the pom about a week after gettysburg, but when i came into the army, a commander had central issues. i had my own maintenance, my own mess hall, and a bunch of other stuff that caused me not to focus on war fighting. and the army said we want to relieve commanders of administrative responsibilities and put that somewhere else. there are some things you can centralize and manage more efficiently and effectively than you can with a company commander trying to do all of it. that was part of what the army was trying to do, shape the army to fight rather than cut grass and pick up trash and feed themselves. the upside of that is anybody that served in the army those days -- tray packs and they made c rations look like delicious meals. designed so you didn't have to have any cooks,
and they tasted just like that. i think that is enough about that. culture of readiness, my army career until i retired -- i had an a bag and a b bag. ?ou know what that is, right an a bag had certain things in it and a b had other things in it. a sleepy make in one and a wet aather bag in the other, three days of mre's and other stuff nobody wanted to carry an identical bags. we knew we would go the moment germany,le blew, to where you had less than two hours to get everybody out to the dispersal area. and if you want to see keystone cops in olive drab? or return of forces to germany, where he would pack your bags and you would practice
reinforcing europe. it gave us a culture of, i am going to fight tonight. some myths -- any of you are old enough to remember this, and very few appear to be, but some of you were, will remember the republican guard was supposed to be first-class and the iraq he i army was a battle hardened combat force. and they were going to beat us. the m1 was a gas guzzling white elephant, inferior to the russian equivalent. nobody with half a brain thought that was true, but the people who made headlines in those days definitely thought it was true. the bradley fighting vehicle, everybody ever see "pentagon wars?" it started the guy who played frasier. anybody ever been in the m1 13 with a gas bladder? the bradley replaced the mm3. we could break into it with a crowbar. the bradley was a fighting vehicle.
when "pentagon wars" was shown, the soldiers were saying we are all going to die. that was because they had never been in a bradley. withd a rubber bladder gasoline. how would you like to be in one of those? talk about crispy critters. in whatanted to believe we were doing in those days. the u.s. army in those days was not very good. i can name names afterward if you want to hear them. we are talking about this in the context of the battalion i haven't to command -- i happened to command battalion 34th army. , second a level two, which means i could man nine of my 12 tanks. we tried to put a tank or two in storage so that every platoon had somebody in it, but they were not manned completely. those are some of the things we did to get ready to train and in the summer of 1990 we got our bradley's. remember the big five? there's a notion that everybody
gets new equipment at the same time. it is not possible. it's called cascade fielding , which is a cute euphemism which means you won't get it until it is ready. so as it came off the line, people have priorities. we were a low priority unit, the first infantry division was second to last in priority in 1990. we could look down our noses at only one division and was the fifth mac, and it was going away that year. it was not very cool to be looking down our nose at them. this is a timeline of when things happened, a lot of stuff going on. the key point here, and i want to back up for a second -- i lost my train of thought. i want to go back to the integration of women. one of the women, that if you happen to buy the book, i think you will enjoy reading about is a woman named eugenia thornton. i have known her since 1980. we served together.
i didn't know her at the time, her husband and i taught history at west point. she was the first female officer assigned to the first infantry division. she was brought to the first id, another woman assigned to the first id, two women assigned to the first infantry division and she was one of them. the integration of women as it affected the battalion, we crossed the line of departure on growth stock on the 24th of february, 1991. 1010 folks on the task force, and one woman. she was about that tall. apparently never got the memo that women were not supposed to be in close combat. she crossed the beaten ground with us. so when people talk to me about women in the army, i have some experience with it and they served us well. you see the rest of it, the air war on the 17th of january. one of the things i object to is
that desert storm was a short war. my brother was there in august of 1990. it wasn't a short war for him. he flew his first mission over baghdad on the 18th of january. on the 17th, he was a mission director of a guy who controlled the mission for his fighter wing of f-111s. mine shot on the 17th of february. first infantry vion fire is first shots combat on january 24. we were shooting at other people for about two months before the war started. and some people were there from august until february. my outfit was there more than five months. how do you get overseas to go do a fight? the answer is, planes, trains and the jolly rubino. the jolly rubino is that rust bucket right there. an italian flagship.
i call my granddaughters the goomba girls. what are you laughing at? the rubino ran ashore a few years ago and sank off the african coast but i was glad to see her on the seventh of january. that fella right there is bert maggert, a graduate of kansas state university a few years ahead of me. i graduated from there as well. he was our brigade commander. this is not how you get on rail heads mostly. when you go to a railhead you are supposed to have lights. there are no lights. we loaded day and night with flashlights. the army had not spent any money on the railhead since world war ii. we had a derailing incident because the railhead was old and tired. this is an armored vehicular-launched bridge that we made as a temporary means to load tanks. trains around so we went 30 miles away to turn the trains
around. this outfit, as low as it was on the priority list, loaded all of ofs stuff on the 4th and 5th december, and was waiting for airplane rides. that is what your army could do in those days. 18,000 troops, 6000 pieces of gear, stan was the g3 of the seventh corp. 40,000 more than the army of the potomac at the height of its power. criticisms the army gets, have you ever heard this, you're still organized like napoleon's army? it is nuts. nobody complains when the air force calls the f-35 a fighter. it is a lot different than a p 51, but they still call it a fighter. i don't know why the army has to defend itself for using terminology like corps, brigade when these things resemble
nothing to to the units they were named for. my unit had 116 tanks, 13 more than a panzer division in world war ii. the point is, your american army with the communications systems it has, can affect command over larger amounts of combat power with fewer people than it did. there were nine corps at gettysburg, none of which had more than 15,000 people in it. the seventh corp could control 148,000. operational phases in desert storm, moving from the port to the assembly area was an adventure. for about the first 60 miles, you are thinking this is going to be easy.
this is like the interstate or the audubon. what you have to understand is, once you turn left on the trans-arabian pipeline, you got mad max and the thunder dome. if anybody has ever seen the original "mad max." i swear to god i saw aretha franklin with a couple of dudes strapped to the hoodf a truck. if you drove the trans-arabian pipeline, you deserved your combat patch. one soldier defined it as burning wreckage and dead people. and it really was that way. when you go into a culture of, god willing i will make it to my destination, people who have that attitude drive differently than we do. unbelievable accidents caused by god willing, we will get there , kind of driving. you see the rest of those things. parallel planning -- how do you
plan a large combat operation involving hundreds of thousands of people? bear in mind, in addition to 148,000 in the seventh corps, the 18th corps had joint task forces north, joint task force east, two arab corps and there was the marine corps. this was an army group fight with 350,000 combat soldiers in the field, only counting americans, not counting the arab soldiers. there were lots of people out there. the other side had 41 plus divisions on the forward line and about eight in their operational reserves. they were a big army as well. how do you do things like this? you have to plan things in parallel. that means, i may not know the details of where i am going to attack, who i am going to attack
and with what i'm going to attack, but i may know what my task are, which allows me to think about it. in those days, the army had four forms of maneuvers. our division commander decided upfront that he wasn't going to do in infiltration attack, sneaking in at night, wasn't going to do a turning movement, flanking going to do a movement, penetration, a frontal attack. we were going to do a penetration, which is narrow the frontage, stack the deck. to do that, he brought the frontage down to eight kilometers. he put four assault battalions, mine and three others. there were expansion battalions of artillery.ons they were going to fire for hours. if you have seen artillery fire and multiply what you are seeing
by 14 battalions, a force of brown, dirty, nasty looking stuff jumped up out of the ground and stayed there for half an hour when we actually did it. it was the most amazing thing i've seen. you couldn'he single burst. it was like white noise. almost relaxing. not so relaxing for people getting it. then you do the other things you see there. i will show you a few charts about what the battle looked like. this is the intelligence overlay for the first brigade, first infantry division, published in each of these bubbles, the february. teeth, the combs, represent the front line of the enemy. each of these is a target so that digital communications devices from us to the computers that control the artillery will be able to put the fires right
on it. then we counted all these positions up and started assigning boundaries. this is a brigade boundary. this is a reserve position with a tank company and possible attack vectors. this was the flank of the iraqi army as it expanded west. they took kuwait, and would build defenses out to the coast and would refuse a flank on the western side, which is what this represented. theydug out a trench, and theyore troops there, and moved further out. so now, this was their new flank and this was the westernmost end of the iraqi front line. and we were going to take everything from here to here with the first brigade. my brigade owned every problem from alpha to this. this was going to be part of the expansion effort, as were these. this is what the enemy positions looked like.
this is a reproduction of an actual artifact. this is where greg discovered that the iraqis could do terrain analysis as well as i could. i went there during the breach because there was a place i could see from and they figured that out as well, so as soon as i positioned myself there they fired artillery at me. i got a bare passing grade on tactics. i managed to prove that a fully loaded m1 tank could go 48 miles an hour, getting out of there. once you have been under artillery fire, there is nothing like it. people say suppressive fire, you don't know what that means -- if you have ever been suppressed, you know what it means. you can think of nothing else but getting out from under it. dan is smiling because he has been suppressed, too. it is also very depressing in addition to suppressive. so this is the overlay of the brigade commander of the commander of 110th brigade of the iraqi army, whose outfit this was. we saw our overlay of positions,
and he concluded ours were more accurate than his. we also had overhead imagery generated by an unmanned aerial vehicle, the first time it was used in the u.s. army in combat. sadly, seventh corps denied having one. we shot at it, because they told us it wasn't theirs. after we shot at it, they complained bitterly that we shouldn't have. you know it is true, stan. it is in the book. stan and i will sort this out later. this is what the penetration attack looked like. we attacked with two brigades for assault formations. my unit did this part of the attack on the first day. this was second battalion 16th infantry. 34th army did that. this was second battalion 16th infantry.
this was 337 armored. what you do in aenetration is you immediately get across. think of it as crossing a river. you have the secure the near side of the enemy position and defeat the enemy on their position. then you have to secure the far side of the enemy position. then you want to push them far enough out that they can shoot you with direct fire weapons. direct-fire weapons in those days, four kilometers, pushing out at four kilometers you are ok. let's count kilometers here. one, two, three, four, five, six. you go to the head of the class, you pass tactics. we went to the trenches. in this out mine plows desert had been plowed to the anatolian peninsula. the ground was soft that you could do that. these trenches in the ground are made by plows that are about 12
to 15 inches deep. we didn't have that equipment until we went over tre. another thing your country can do if it is in a real hurry is, it can make stuff happen. we got those plows when we arrived in the desert. nobody could even spell mine plow. it came with a piece of paper. part a goes to part b and screws together with part c. we practice with it until we felt we got it right. this is a lane. these takes up here are fighting, the forward line of troops. you cannot see, there is not a lot of smoke because we are pretty far back, but they are shooting there. this is on the way in. so that nobody would get lost, we marked every lane. this is 3000 meters out from the actual penetration point. the brits are going to pass through us. first army division u.k. army. i will not spoil the story by telling you the details. brits can read english fairly
well, so we labeled all of our lanes, and i had a,b,c, and d, so this is one of my lanes. second day, we expanded penetration. now what you want to do is get outside of artillery range so that the soft skin stuff doesn't get hammered. [counting] good enough. 18 to 20 kilometers will get you outside of artillery range. you can see how we expanded. this expansion was done by the third brigade of the second armored division. i should say the first infantry division had six tank battalions and three infantry battalions. remember, it is a traditional lane, not a stipulation of what it does. after the penetration, we were told by seventh corps the first
of many fibs. me,thought it was chillax ti we were going to chill out. the general had a different idea. he said now is our chance and will go after operational and strategic reserve of the iraq he army. you guys need to drive up there and take care of business. i will tell you, this is an relevant side, but something about how human nature works. fred franks would come to see me frequently. i am thinking, why is this man coming down here all the time hassling me about what is going to happen two weeks from now? all i want to know is if i'm going to live the day after tomorrow. franks is going to communicate to me what the future would look like. i was not interested in the future. my future was the next afternoon, the next day. am i right? have you guys been in combat? the future is an irrelevant term. am i going to sleep tonight? am i going to be fed?
will i be killed today? that was his future. i was not mature enough to get that. so we got in at 4:30, i'm sorry, 14:30, which is army speak for 2:30 in the afternoon. that is what the weather looked like. what you think about deserts is blue sky and warm weather. we froze. it was cold. it rained continuously. we had puddles everywhere. as soon as the rain stopped, it dried up immediately, but you were still cold and wet, so you spent all day putting on clothes and taking them off. you get up first thing in the morning, i would put on a sweater, my chemical gear, my tankers jacket over that, and i was still cold. then you spend all afternoon taking clothes off until the end of the day. it was a constant irritant.
this is what that thing looked like. i commissioned this painting from a marine artist. the artist that painted this with me, we spent two weeks together. we sat together. there were a lot more fires. that night my battalion killed 40 tanks. he said artistically you can't have that many fires. he said it was like something salvador dali would have painted. what went through my mind -- did anybody see the print with salvador dali's melting watches? it kept going through my mind, nobody can make this shit up, it can be happening, but it really was happening. it truly was surreal and existential and whatever else
kierkegaard might have made up. so what did it look like on the ground? these are the orientations of the enemy units. they were looking southwest, because they expected us to come there. why would we know that? everyone thought we had fo oled them, but the general of direct intelligence of the iraqi army knew where we were. and a new generally where we would come. they also try to tell saddam hussein. i got to read the iraqi documents because in 2003, we captured them. if the documents were not destroyed in the fighting, i had access to them. i had a penpal who was a iraqi major general and another who was a republican forces commander and israeli intelligence officer who wrote a book on the iraqi army.
i don't think anyone is as interested in the iraqi army then he is except for me. it is an incredible look. he helped me translate. they knew how many tanks we had. they had really solid intelligence that we would attack as far back as august of 1990. the problem was saddam did not believe it was going to happen. saddam lived in his own magic world. people said he was irrational -- not true. i read his stuff. perfectly rational from a guy in tikrit in an environment of kill or be killed.
not saying it is a bad thing, but the way he functioned was inappropriate for understanding us. by the way, we didn't understand him either. i would ask you to think about this. one of the things steve and i did was trying to teach americans empathy for the other side. you the first effort was a woman named ruth benedict who wrote an anthropological analysis of the japanese empire. understanding the other side, or at least having some empathy, not sympathy, but empathy, gives you the chance to understand. saddam had sympathy for us in strange places. at one point they were talking about the possibility of us attacking. he said, why would they do that? one said, because iraq had supported puerto rican independence. the gringos would want to go after them.
even saddam hussein thought that was off the reservation. that culture thinks differently than we do. it does not mean they think badly, just differently. the notion that the world is flat that dennis freeman promotes is not true. people think in different ways, with cultural differences that matter. if you don't learn, you will never be able to estimate what they will do. that is the most powerful lesson out of desert storm, and it is one we should have learned decades ago. i want the labor -- i won't belabor that more than i have. fratricide. this is an apache helicopter after a vehicle hit it. the pilot was over test flying in high winds -- overtasked flying in high winds and lost situational awareness.
he said i am on 0-7-0. these guys were north. 0-7-0 should have been his first clue he was looking in the wrong direction. nobody thought to challenge him. why do you suppose that is? ever work for a boss who is a screamer? that is the kind of guy he was. if you have ever seen the movie, you understand the stress of combat does things to people and bad stuff happens to good people. this is the tank of a retired colonel. he took three m1 tank rounds,
one of which killed his gunner. the m1 tank on the other hand, we had eight or nine times burned to the ground. -- tanks burned to the ground. the m1 tank is the most survivable tank platform because of several this. troop compartment is in a different place from the munition. t72, the ammunition in a propellant is stored with the crew, they all burned to the ground. it is not a pretty sight. next we have halon fire extinguishers, which snuffs all the oxygen. people will have trouble breathing too, but once the fire is put out, they can breathe again. they have great armor. why do things happen the way they did? i mentioned empathy. the verse coalition said it should have gone to baghdad.
on the 28th, stan wrote in his diary "i am going to live," or some words to that effect. there were no soldiers sent on to baghdad. i learned everything i needed to know about combat the first time i got shot at. you don't need any postdoctoral study in getting shot at. you learn everything you need to know. it is scary, and it is permanent. diverse coalition. the arabs were never going to let us go to baghdad, never. we didn't need to do it, so we weren't going to go. i love colin powell. i would have voted for him for president, but he enjoyed way too much influence. in the war termination effort
that went on between powell and what led things to go the way they did. i think colin powell screwed up the end of the war. military factors. saddam's army was war-weary. he was beat up, he was tired. we captured guys who had no socks. we captured guys who could not speak arabic -- they were kurds. we got guys who said they just got here from chicago. we captured guys twice. i wasn't going to shoot him. i gave him a pack of cigarettes to share with the 14 guys he had with him, a bottle of water and 14 mre's and go that way. he said, i want to go where i am from.
i said dude, you have to cross three tank divisions, someone will for sure shoot you. on the first of march i captured him again in i told him he is going to jail. we sent them to the p.o.w. camp. i was upset because we just had a firefight and these guys just wanted to go home. why did we win? airpower. never go anywhere without the u.s. air force. my brother didn't come tonight. i don't resent him for it, because then he would be bragging about how he saved us again. gps. our gps was so bad, it was always 300 to 400 meters off. why is that? the government did not want people to target with it. now you can target with a cell phone. you can put a bomb right on that podium with a cell phone now. in those days, it was 300 to 400 meters off.
i didn't trust the gps, so i used a compass. let me tell you about a compass in the desert. bert would have me using this -- i would say, why are we doing this? when the moon is not out, it is like being in the closet with the door closed and no light in the closet. it is really, really dark. you drive 15 kilometers to my command post. one night, we tried 15 kilometers. we driver and i are nervous. i am thinking we are going to die in the desert. we go another 400 yards and we get stuck. i couldn't figure out why. it was the burm we built to protect the command post it was so dark we could not see it. my guards almost shot us. because they hurt is moving around. -the desert was interesting.
doctrine and training -- that he was army invaded something called the national training center. the civil reserve air fleet and ready reserve fleet. anyone know what the civil reserve air fleet is? these are airplanes contracted by the u.s. government who agreed to carry military cargo. anybody -- go on the web and look it up. find out how many 747s are left. hoh wait, hardly any, because we retired them. at the big airplane. what do we used to carry stuff? the reserve fleet is aging and going away. postwar myths, i will leave you to look at those. short four day war -- not true. let me tell you something about fighting. i don't care if you were fighting the b team, i remember
driving through the rear area of the 860 iraqi brigade, and it was terrible to see. i think, we are beating these guys 99 to 0, and our lives suck. what must there is be -- what m ust theirs be like? i would tell you that the soldiers that fought in this fight fought as hard as any american soldier has carried the fact that they were not fighting the germans at omaha beach while doesn'tand relieve them of the obligations they felt, or the 34th infantry in korea. as far as they knew, it was omaha beach, waterloo, gettysburg rolled into one. i swear these guys were in a different battlefield then i was, because they remember it differently, how your army perceives it. these kids did what they were asked to do. we reached the sunny uplands of peace -- not so much.
water will weigh about eight gallons at sea level. i don't care if tesla invents artificial intelligence tomorrow. once they can produce water and eight weighs less than eight pounds, it will take eight pounds of water. first infantry division ran out of two things in desert storm, food and water. when you run out of water in the desert, it is bad news. remember the c-130 airdrops of bottled water? how do you think it is dropped with a parachute? it is like dropping it from a second floor. little tiny birds from everywhere across the persian gulf showed up to lap the water, you could not drink it. we literally had no water the end of the war. do automated systems replace people in warfare?
no, he will always need people. platoon leader second platoon company. i led the same platoon as he did in 1991. benny has a big m1 10th tattooed on his arm. he went to bowling green. and studied english. this is a united states military academy graduate. phyllis fitzgerald. and the mayor of junction city, kansas, where her husband keith is now the captain in the police force. these are my guys. this fella bob was supposed to , be here tonight but had a crisis with his teenage daughter, so he can't be here. busheyhead.
that is greg. that is johnny. i won't say what we used to say about johnny. juan, who is dead, a naval officer in the chilean army, and a bunch of other great americans. a picture of one of the kids i had killed february 1991 along with four others. i hadn't seen robert since june 2 years ago. i almost brought the picture of the tombstone. i thought it would be ok because it had been 25 years, but it wasn't. robert's parents came to our last reunion. he is my screensaver. that is my story and i will stick to it. i would be glad to take any questions you may have. >> [applause]
i went a bit long though if you get tired, we will quit. no questions? it was brilliantly and articulately laid down? sir, if you would. >> could you say more about schwarzkopf and powell? >> norman schwarzkopf gave a briefing called the mother of all briefings in which he said the war is over, the door is closed, no one is getting out. he gave that briefing two hours before the biggest tank battle in the history of the planet happened. then the next day, having told powell he needed 44 more hours, powell -- 24 more hours, powell calls him, saying he thinks we should stop. norm put himself in that position because he was gadfly ing for cnn. when i saw that, i went ballistic.
i was in a position where i could have been killed. thank you, i don't like to hear that. schwarzkopf is one of the reasons we had a problem at the end of the war. he was a screamer. he didn't listen. powell didn't either. they had a notion that 100 hours meet a great soundbite. i'm sorry, i don't want to get killed over a soundbite. these are greg's opinions. i will fairly admit i am biased about this. i think we hosed out the end of the war. that we had no obligations to the iraqi population was another problem. the international law, as soon as you take control of someone else's territory, you are an occupying force and you have the responsibility to feed, care, a nd the united states did not want to do that. think back to 2003, the iraqis were going to pay for that. if you don't take responsibility
for what you do, then you are going to have problems with war termination. so i am not schwarzkopf, and i am willing to accept that you disagree if you like. go to the microphone, sir. >> was the decision already made that we would not go to baghdad? >> i think the decision was to let the republican guard forces command cross the euphrates. it is possible things may have turned out differently than they did. however those are counterfactual arguments. powell and schwarzkopf were not responsible for us going to
baghdad. we never had a mandate to go to baghdad. the u.n. resolution was to get out of kuwait. sometimes victory is not total. sir? >> i was always under the impression that because we were beaten over the head by video on tv newscast of the highway of death, where the warthogs -- and i mean, it was a slaughter. >> i was there. it was not a slaughter. they would take vehicles out, let the iraqis run, then blow up the vehicles that remained. >> but they were saying something to the effect that president bush could not even handle this. >> no. bush said in the afternoon that powell called schwarzkopf, you can have 24 hours if you want it. my sympathy for what happened on
the highway of death, my unit covered the highway of death. we encountered an iraqi soldier who lived long enough to have someone hold his hand when he died. horrible things happen. if you have been in kuwait and see what the iraqis had done, your sympathy may have been watered down a little bit. it was a video problem. there was a compelling narrative we needed to stop. president bush said you can have 24 more hours. powell thought it was important to do that cause he wanted to preserve the american opinion of the u.s. army. >> i am a distinct minority here, i am a navy veteran. >> it is ok. we like the navy too. two naval vessels were almost sunk in the persian gulf, and no one remembers that.
>> can talk about what was happening with first division in raleigh in -- in riley mid 1970's from the first edition in the vietnam era to the new improved version? >> first infantry division when i joined in may 1971, i had six tanks in my platoon. i had seven soldiers, counting me. one of those soldiers was signed to craig, where he literally handed out basketballs and towels. i could not start all six tanks. when i left seven or eight months in, i achieved a maintenance achievement, i got all six to start. the first time i got in my tank, i processed the coincidence range finder, which is like a rangefinder on the old-time cameras, where you bring the two
images together. you achieve focus once you have achieved range. they took it out. 18 months later, it haven't been returned. -- it hadn't been returned. we had cardboard cutouts in my tank to prevent the rain where the rangefinder had been. stan was an executive officer. after that you can see the improvement. there was a lot of talk about the reagan years. three years in reagan's eight, we had increases to the budget. after year four, the budget went down again. we were strapped for people, strapped for time to train. the only thing was returning forces to germany, which was part of the reinforcement of
europe. we would be clumped up with fillers. we would be drawn down for higher priority units. the first infantry division in the early 1970's was a difficult place to serve. for me, those were my good old days. i did not know any better. it was the only division i had been in in 1971. i knew it was too good, but i did not know how bad it was. a guy who retired from the army, he said people forgot how screwed up the army was from 1971 to 1973. does that answer your question? >> my question is how communication was done by arabic and non-arabic speakers. >> the problem is twofold in my view. steve and i have spent a lot of our lives over the past 15 years
in the middle east back and forth. the problem is partly language. people think in the language in which they are raised. they also think in terms of the culture in which they are raised. the cultures are fundamentally different. it doesn't mean one is better than the other, they are just different. the ability to have empathy with a culture you don't understand is difficult. once you understand a little bit more about the culture, then you can empathize and eventually even sympathize and communicate more effectively. one of the last thing i did in the u.s. army was run a school designed to teach critical thinking for people who thought differently than us. we spent a lot of time teaching our guys culture, anthropology and culture. bosnia is where i got that impression. everyone there looks european,
but they are not. the balkans isn't europe, it is different. does that make sense to you, sir? language and culture is important. we tend to dismiss that. >> you mentioned you disagree with how the war ended. what you have preferred to have happened? >> i disagree how they ended it because one of the things we were supposed to do is prevent the iraq he army from -- tehe iraqi army from putting its people down, which they did, and we were unable to stop. i did not want to go to baghdad. i thought it was a terrible idea. i thought it was a terrible idea in 2003. that was my opinion, not the army's opinion. armies don't get to have opinions about that. we just couldn't get it all done
in 86 hours. >> [inaudible] >> yes they did. that was a mistake. if you don't want normans were scott to be the plenipotentiary for the united states, you need to send someone else. where was the secretary of state? historians raise more questions than they provide answers. anyone else? i would be glad to hear any questions or bitter criticism after the fact. i appreciate the opportunity. >> [applause] we are taking your vote at
c-span history. the question is, which hardly changed the most since 1968? the vote right now with more than 24,000 casting their vote saying the democrats changed the most. 56% and the republicans at 44%. >> thanks to everyone who voted in the twitter polls. more than 200,000 votes were posted on issues ranging from the vietnam war to presidential election to them and strike and race relations. can tweet us questions and comments during live ents, the video previous or look back to what happened on this day in american history. on twitter, at c-span history.
>> for the most part, there were so few of them that nobody bothered to taunt them. this changed in the vietnam and title ix. law hos accepted more women. several women in this study and that i'm no personally reported being hoped and criticized by law students for taking a man's place. a man who would need to support his family. hillary clinton, who is not in this particular project, in her memoir, what happened rights that when she and a friend went in 1968, a lsat
group of men harassed them before the exam saying, why don't you go home and get married. one said if you take my spot at ,aw school, our get drafted although to vietnam, and i will die. and then she had to sit down and take the lsat. watch the entire program at 2:30 p.m. eastern on sunday. american history tv only on c-span3. 5, 1968,rs ago on june senator robert f kennedy was shot in los angeles after winning the california presidential primary. next on railamerica, robert f kennedy, 1925-1968, a 50 minute
cbs news special report from the evening of june 6 after the senator died of his gunshot wounds. report covers the life and assassination of the new york democrat and is anchored by walter cronkite. news specialcbs report. here is cbs news correspondent harry reasoner. >> good evening. the body of senator robert kennedy is now in the air in a jet furnished are the white house and the air force heading to new york from los angeles. 430 p.m. and will land in laguardia new york. the body will arrive sometime around 9:30 p.m. new york time. tomorrow from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and longer if there are lines. it will lie in state before a requiem mass at 10 a.m. saturday and go by train from new york to washington and a motor processions from new york's union station to go by the na