February 26, This day during the Gulf War

February 26, 1991 – The Battle of Phase Line Bullet was one of the clashes which led to the destruction of the Tawakalna Iraqi Republican Guard Division, on February 26, 1991, by a simultaneous attack of two US Armored Divisions (1st and 3rd), an Infantry Division (the 1st) and the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment. The battle was one of the rare examples of a US armored force repulsed by a screen of Iraqi entrenched infantry, APCs and Iraqi T-72s tanks during Desert Storm. The incident involved American friendly fire casualties. As the usual practice for armored reconnaissance, a troop of M3 Bradleys (Alpha Troop), belonging to the 4th squadron of the 7th Cavalry Regiment, was scouting ahead of the main tank force. The flank screen maneuver took place along the southern boundaries between the 2 ACR and 3rd Armored Division operational areas. Task Forces 4-34 and 4-32 were advancing from the rear. The general movement of the US forces followed an eastward direction. The fumes of hundreds of oil wells set on fire by the Iraqis, combined with an intense shamal, forced the US vehicles to use thermal sights. At 3:00 PM, the 14 Bradleys strong troop received information from the GHQ of the 3rd Armored Division that no enemy unit remained between them and the Kuwaiti border. Suddenly, they found a screen line of Iraqi APCs straight ahead, barely 300 meters to the east. The poor weather, along with burning oil fumes, reduced the visibility conditions to almost zero. The enemy screen line was part of the 9th Armored Brigade of Tawakalna Division. A burst of small-arms and heavy machine gunfire, RPGs and Sagger missiles erupted. Initially, the American commander thought they were engaging dismounted infantry supported by BMPs, but later he realized that they were also receiving main-gun tank rounds. The US vehicles retaliated by firing TOW missiles, 25 mm cannon and machine gun fire. The contact lasted for about two hours, until the Bradleys, battered by enemy and friendly fire and running out of ammunition, were forced to withdraw.  from TF 4-34, positioned in the rear echelon, fired in support of the IFVs, destroying at least one T-72 and several Iraqi APCs. They also hit three Bradleys (A-24, A-31 and A-22), with two American KIAs. The 2 ACR also became entangled in the fighting from the rear right. Another Bradley (A-36) was first disabled by a 12.7 mm round from an NSVT heavy machine gun which penetrated the transmission and later shattered by a large caliber shaped charge impact in the turret’s front. Bradley A-35 also took some damage from a mix of ricocheting 12.7 mm bursts and indirect fire, but was able to be driven out, while A-33 suffered two injured and its radio station hit by 12.7 mm fire. During the process of rescuing casualties from A-24, Bradley A-26, commanded by Sergeant Major Ronald Sneed, was near-missed by a T-72 main round, which spattered the vehicle with splinters. While providing cover for A-21 who was attempting to assess the situation with A-36, Bradley A-22, commanded by Staff Sergeant Meyers, was struck in the turret by an M-1 tank from TF 4-34 resulting in one KIA. The gunner of A-24 was also killed by a friendly tank round. The disabled A-22, A-36 and A-24 were left abandoned on the battleground, while A-31, although heavily damaged, was able to pull back. All the remainder Bradleys were raked by machine gun fire and shell splinters, but they were still marginally operational.

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