February 27, 1991 – This day during the Gulf War – The Battle of Norfolk

February 27, 1991 – The Battle of Norfolk was a tank battle fought on February 27, 1991, during the Persian Gulf War, between armored forces of the United States Army and those of the Ba’athist Iraqi Republican Guard. It was the final battle of the war before the unilateral ceasefire took effect. On the night of 23/24 February 1991, in accordance with General Norman Schwarzkopf’s plan for the ground assault called Operation Desert Sabre, VII Corps raced east from Saudi Arabia into Iraq in a maneuver later nicknamed the “Hail Mary.” The Corps had two goals: to cut off Iraqi retreat from Kuwait, and to destroy five Republican Guard divisions near the Iraq-Kuwait border that might attack the Arab and U.S. Marine Corps units moving into Kuwait to the south. The breach was preceded by a heavy artillery barrage, led by 4/3 FA Battalion, to soften up Iraqi defenses. Around 300 guns from multiple nations participated in the impressive artillery display. Iraq lost close to 90 artillery pieces during this barrage. Led by Major General Thomas Rhame, the U.S. 1st Infantry Division pushed through the Iraqi defenses. The U.S. 1st Infantry Division opened fire on the Iraqi defenses with tank fire and destroyed four tanks with TOW missiles. In the end, the division succeeded in decimating the Iraqi 26th Infantry Division, and taking over 500 prisoners. The U.S. 1st Infantry Division also suffered a casualty, with one soldier being killed by an Iraqi land mine. The Battle of Norfolk, in a sense a continuation of the fighting that began with the Battle of 73 Easting the day before, began at 12:30 am on 27 February. The two attacking brigades of the U.S. 1st Infantry Division, including the 3rd Brigade of the 2nd Armored Division, were positioned along the 75 Easting, 2,000 meters east of 73 Easting. The Brigades clashed with the Iraqi Tawakalna Division of the Republican Guard, including the 37th Brigade of the 12th Iraqi Tank Division. With air support from the 1/1 Attack Helicopter Battalion and fire support from 4/3 FA Battalion preventing Iraqi artillery from interfering, the U.S. 1st Infantry Division conducted a passage of the 2nd ACR’s lines. In the following three hours the U.S. 1st Infantry Division methodically crossed the ten kilometers of Objective Norfolk, destroying Iraqi tanks, trucks, and infantry through thick fog. The 3rd Brigade of the 2nd Armored Division destroyed 60 Iraqi tanks and 35 AFV along the IPSA pipeline. In the thick of the fog of war, U.S. units became mixed with Iraqi units dispersed throughout the desert. This confusion led to the largest number of friendly fire incidents throughout the war. By dawn, the U.S. 1st Infantry Division controlled Objective Norfolk and the Tawakalna Mechanized Infantry Division had ceased to exist as a fighting force. American casualties were six soldiers killed (all but one by friendly fire) and 30 wounded.

A dug-in Iraqi T-72 Asad Babil tank at the Battle of Norfolk,

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