February 26, This day during the Gulf War

February 26, 1991 – The Battle of Al Busayyah was a tank battle fought just before sunrise on February 26, 1991, during the Gulf War, between armored forces of the United States Army and those of the Iraqi Army. The battle is named after the Iraqi town of Al Busayyah which sat at a critical crossroads and was an Iraqi Army stronghold. The town consisted of forty to fifty buildings, most located along one main north-south road. It was defended by a battalion-sized Iraqi infantry unit reinforced by tanks, armored personnel carriers and elements of an Iraqi commando battalion. The town was heavily fortified with machine gun nests and fighting positions. Eleven Iraqi tanks and twelve other armored vehicles were dug-in deeply at strategic positions in, and around, the town. Trenchlines stretched fifteen hundred meters south of town, radiating out to perimeter strong points. Charged with taking the town was the 2nd Brigade, known as the “Iron Brigade,” of the U.S. 1st Armored Division (1AD), part of VII Corps, commanded by General Frederick M. Franks, Jr.. The 2nd Brigade’s 2-70 Armor, now TF 2-70 or Task Force 2-70, was to move north in formation and seize the town of Al Busayyah with TF 4-70 Armor on its right flank, and then with the rest of the Brigade proceed to attack “position Python” where it would strike Saddam’s elite Republican Guard north of Kuwait. At dawn, 0630, on 26 February, the task force moved towards Phase Line Smash on the outskirts of Al Busayyah. Phase lines are map references occurring every few kilometers used to measure progress of an offensive operation. At 0740, the task force reached Phase Line Smash. In crossing the four kilometers to Al Busayyah, American mortar fire dropped smoke rounds on top of the forward Iraqi positions. Many Iraqi soldiers surrendered almost immediately as TF 2-70 forces approached Al Busayyah. The TF 2-70 scout platoon laid suppressive fire on the town and Iraqis returned small arms fire from within the town but it was ineffective. The scout platoon remained to process many of the surrendering Iraqis bypassed by the task force. A Company moved, on the left flank, encountered two T-55 tanks and many other tracked vehicles, and a platoon of dismounted Iraqi soldiers. Rounds were fired from the Iraqi trenches, but as the tanks approached, the Iraqi soldiers surrendered. B Company sighted tanks and trucks inside the town as well as a T-62 on the outside to the north. B Company swept through, using reconnaissance by fire. In return it received some ineffectual small arms return fire and observed an Iraqi mortar round land about 150 meters from the front line of their tanks. Task Force 4-70 Armor,( the Black Lions, commanded by LTC William C. Feyk), advanced on the right flank. As they moved into their attack by fire position, TF 4-70 reported two BRDM’s and several surrendering Iraqi soldiers. They did not engage the vehicles because 6-6 Infantry’s location to their right was not confirmed. Continuing their advance, they encountered and destroyed an abandoned T-55 at close range. Delayed by what appeared to be a minefield, the Bradleys struggled to catch up with the task force as they bypassed the obstacle to the left. Clearing the town to the north, Black Lions linked up with the rest of the force and reestablished contact with Fox on the right. C and D Companies, commanded by Captain James Goldberg and Captain Patrick Vess, moved forward, side by side. Both company commanders were told to look for 5 T55’s. They found the tanks at only 300 meters, as the T-55’s were rising from their hide positions to engage Goldberg’s and Vess’s tanks. C and D companies opened fire. All of the T-55’s were destroyed. As the task force swept through the objective, brigade ordered the battalion to expeditiously move north in order to clear a kill box for an incoming MLRS artillery strike on the town. Persistent resistance against 6-6 from within the town had prompted the artillery barrage. The main body was able to move quickly, but trail elements handling prisoners of war delayed the fire mission. At 0850 the box was clear, and the artillery mission was executed. At this point the Iron Brigade continued to push northeast. During the battle of Al Busayyah, 2-70 Armor captured 16 enemy soldiers and destroyed numerous vehicles to include 7 tanks, 2 BRDMs, 1 BMP, and 25 wheeled vehicles. 4-70 Armor destroyed 5 tanks and numerous other Iraqi Army vehicles. After Al Busayyah, the brigade continued movement northeast, expecting to halt along Phase Line New Mexico. At approximately 1230 and east of Python, the task force halted to conduct refueling and resupply. Iron Brigade would go on to fight at the Battle of Medina Ridge the following day.

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