February 27, This day during the Gulf War

February 27, 1991 – The Battle of Medina Ridge was a decisive tank battle fought on February 27, 1991, during the Gulf War, between the U.S. 1st Armored Division and the 2nd Brigade of the Iraqi Republican Guard Medina Luminous Division outside Basra. Medina Ridge is the name American troops gave to a low rise, approximately seven miles (11 km) long. The battle, which was waged over approximately two hours, was the largest tank battle of the war and the largest tank battle in United States history. It took place west of Phase Line Kiwi, east of Phase Line Smash, and north of Phase Line Grape. Phase lines are map references occurring every few kilometers used to measure progress of an offensive operation. The 1st Armored Division, commanded by Major General Ron Griffith, consisted of some 3,000 vehicles including 348 M1A1 Abrams tanks. The brunt of the fighting at Medina Ridge was conducted by the 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, which was the only brigade from the 3rd Infantry Division in the war. 3rd Bde, 3ID replaced 1st Armored Division’s 1st Brigade for the duration of the war and was commanded by Colonel James Riley. 1st Armored Division’s 2nd Brigade, also saw major action in this battle and was commanded by Colonel Montgomery Meigs (a descendant of General Montgomery C. Meigs of Civil War fame). Medina Ridge was one of the few battles during Desert Storm in which American forces encountered significant Iraqi resistance and found it extremely difficult to advance. The Iraqi forces were well-deployed such that they could not be seen by American forces advancing until after they had cleared the top of the ridgeline. This defilade position gave the Iraqis protection from the powerful long-range direct fire of the M1 Abrams tanks and the M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles. The American units found it necessary to engage an entrenched enemy at close range, which resulted in higher damage to the American armored units. During the battle, the American forces suffered only one fatality (due to friendly fire), while destroying 186 Iraqi tanks (mostly inferior quality export model T-72Ms, Asad Babils and obsolete Type 69s) and 127 armored vehicles. Only four Abrams tanks were hit by direct fire and disabled; none were destroyed. Thirty-eight of the Iraqi tanks were eliminated by U.S. Army AH-64 Apaches and U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt IIs. 2nd Battalion, 1st Field Artillery conducted counterartillery fire missions and destroyed the Medina Field Artillery batteries in the process. Although the Iraqis used a relatively successful defensive strategy by deploying their armor behind the ridge, this was not properly repeated through the rest of the war. In one incident, an Iraqi commander attempted to repeat what had been done at Medina but mistakenly deployed his armor too far from the ridgeline. This gave the American units the upper hand, as the Abrams tanks specialize in long-distance kills; their Chobham armor is extremely resistant to long-range fire. The American height advantage also reduced the effective range of the Iraqi tanks and presented the Iraqi gunners with a targeting situation for which they were under-trained.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close