From the "Saudi Spearhead"
Issue 7 - May 1, 1991
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BELOW, full text of article:


By First Lt. Bill Armstrong

ON THE DMZ - Underneath a high power line. Spec. Joe Farmer moves cautiously through an enemy stone shack under the cover of the 25mm main gun ofaBradley Scout Vehicle. He and his fellow crewmen of"B-ll," Bravo Troop, 4th Squadron, 7th Cav., are busy screening a number of zones on the DMZ, looking for enemy equipment to destroy.

As the Spearhead Division's eyes and ears, the scouts of Bravo Troop spend days torching Iraqi vehicles and bunkers with mo-gas, and scanning the horizon for infiltrators.

Capt. Jeff Hicks, Bravo Troop Commander, says both the Iraqi troops and rebels are attempting to sneak into the coalition sector to steal back the vehicles and ammunition they abandoned on the battlefield.

"We had an OP (observation post) right on the highway. He had been reporting all night of enemy movement into our sector. They were trying to get armored vehicles out on HETTS (heavy transport trucks). We reported that up through the squadron and got a gun scout team from Charlie Troop out there," said Hicks.

As the Iraqis attempted to load T-55 tanks and armored personnel carriers on the seven flatbed trucks, the Cobra gunships of C-Troop fired warning shots. Ignoring their warning, the Iraqis watched as the Cobra gunners shot out their tires. After the Iraqis ran from the vehicles, their precious cargo was also destroyed by the cobras. Hicks and his cavalrymen then located an additional twenty-nine transport trucks in their zone, and subsequently set them on fire.

Not all of the Iraqis who cross into Bravo's sector arc the enemy. 2nd Lt Chris Wilbeck, a Bravo scout platoon leader, says some are ordinary civilians.

"Yesterday we stopped a guy, a farmer, who was stealing a little truck to get tomatoes. Then we had to lake it away from him and bum it We've been on 'search and destroys' and just destroy anything that anybody can get because we dont want it eventually to fall into the hands of somebody who can be a threat to us," said Wilbeck.

Still, the attitude of Iraqi people seems to have changed greatly toward American soldiers since the start of thewar, according to 1st Lieutenant Matt Weingast, executive officer for Bravo.

"Everyone we see waves at us. (They are) very friendly, very receptive to us, and I think they view us more as liberators than conquerors," said Weingast.

This DMZ is nothing like the DMZ patrolled by Bravo Troop's Sgt. Gordon Williams. The scout who shotguns a fuel truck was stationed in Korea in 1987, and says his patrols were limited to dismounted, with no weapons larger than an M-203. Despite the constant testing and the threat of a strong North Korean enemy, Williams says the stress here on the new DMZ is far greater.

"There's a tot more stress here. It's a tot more dangerous here. In Korea, they have the minefields already wired off. Here, you don't know. That's one big difference. They had two big guard posts out there (Korea). Here... you don't know what's out here. In Korea, you knew where, or most likely where, their enemy would come through. You don't knowwhere the enemy is going to come through out here."

Down the road, ayoung Iraqi man got out of the car and approached the U.S. soldiers at the checkpoint just west of Basra. His weeping father also got out, explaining in Arabic to the interpreter that, because of his own connections with the resistance effort, his boy would be killed by Saddam Hussein if he stayed in the dty. His son, a former air defense soldier in the Iraqi Army, voluntarily became an enemy prisoner of war. For that, his father is thankful, knowing the humane treatment he will receive.

Surrender is a daily sight for soldiers of Charlie Co, 4th Bn., 8th Cav. They are far forward on the DMZ, the demilitarized zone, and their mission at "Checkpoint Echo" is to interdict all travel on the east-west road leading into Basra.

"If vehicles come here, we're supposed to turn them back and keep them out of the coalition sector," explains 2nd Lt Tim Place, a platoon leader with the company. "If a vehicle comes up here, we search it If it has soldiers, we're looking for weapons or ammunition. If they have that, we take them prisoner. If they don't have weapons or ammo, we afford them the opportunity to surrender, which, quite frankly, a great number have been doing."

An hour doesn't pass without a new truck or bus loaded with civilians trying to flee west into Kuwait from Basra. Some of the refugees haven't eaten or had water for days. One man told checkpoint guards he had not had water in two weeks, and survived by eating grass. Many of those trying to escape have have already been injured in the civil war across the border.

Private John Jones, a 4/8 Cav. medic at the checkpoint, got more than he bargained for when he offered to examine one Iraqi civilian complaining of a heart ailment.

"When he got off the bus, I said, 'I'm a medic;' then a whole bunch of people surrounded me with their children, and a lot of the children looked sick and hungry," Jones said.

Two of those he examined had gunshot wounds, with one Iraqi requiring a medevac helicopter for hospitalization. "And this may sound a little off the wall, but I'm finally getting to do my job - and I don't have to do it on our men, so that's good."

The round-the-clock vigilance of 2nd Brigade troops emphasizes the importance of the 3rd Armored Division's newest mission on the DMZ.

Hicks summed up the seriousness of the mission. "It's basically still the rules of engagement that came out with General Order One when we first deployed down here: Hostile acts, reply in kind."


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