Newly appointed National Security Advisor LTG H. R. McMaster first rose to prominence in the Army as a Captain in command of a Cavalry Troop during Desert Storm. Eagle Troop, 2nd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment was the part of the screening force for the “hail Mary” wide sweep of the VII Corps main effort.*
Captain McMaster’s troop stumbled upon a Republican Guard defense, and in 23 minutes, destroyed the enemy, with no friendly losses. It was the first time the Army encountered the Iraqi Republican Guard.
The Battle of 73 Easting (a north-south grid line on the map) was one of many fights in Desert Storm. Each of those battles was different. Individual and unit experiences in the same battle often vary widely. The tactics that Army units use to fight future battles will vary considerably from those employed in Desert Storm. Harbingers of future armed conflict such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, ISIS’s establishment of a terrorist proto-state and growing transnational reach, Iran’s pursuit of long range ballistic missiles, Syria’s use of chemical weapons and barrel bombs to commit mass murder against its citizens, the Taliban’s evolving insurgency in Afghanistan and Pakistan, North Korea’s growing nuclear arsenal and that regime’s erratic behavior all indicate that Army forces must be prepared to fight and win against a wide range of enemies, in complex environments, and under a broad range of conditions. There are, however, general lessons and observations from combat experiences that apply at the tactical level across a range of enemies and battlefield conditions. The purpose of this essay is to reflect on the experience of Eagle Troop, Second Squadron, Second Armored Cavalry Regiment twenty-five years ago during Operation Desert Storm to identify enduring keys to success in battle.
*Your Humble Scribe was a minor participant as part of the 1st Armored Division.