Operation Vigilant Warrior

Operation Vigilant Warrior (Arabic: عملية المحارب اليقظ‎) was a military operation from 8 October 1994 to 15 December 1994 by the United States in response to two divisions of Iraqi Republican Guard troops moving toward the Kuwaiti border. A quick response by United States President Bill Clinton allowed USCENTAF command and staff to deploy to Riyadh within days.[1]

Operation Vigilant Warrior
Part of Iraqi no-fly zones
Vigilant Warrior unloading.JPEG
An M577 command and control vehicle rolls off the Military Sealift Command ship MV Cape Decision
Date8 October 1994 to 15 December 1994
Iraq-Kuwait border
Result U.S. military operation successful in keeping Iraq out of Kuwait


On 3 October 1994, Company C, Second Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne); (C/2/5 SFG(A); was deployed on IRIS GOLD 95-1[vague] for presences forward and pre-mission training with selected elements of the Kuwait Ministry of Defense (MOD). The training mission rapidly transitioned to defense of Kuwait operation establishing a Combat Air Support (CAS) umbrella over the entire northern third of the State of Kuwait employing five (5) each Special Forces, A-Teams, task organized and deploying 15 Forward Air Control (FAC) Teams.

Over a 16-day period C/2/5 SFG (A) provided; composition and disposition of all forces arrayed in the Kuwait Defense Plan (KDP); de-confliction of the main battle area; anti-fratricide capability; and real time ground truth in the battle space.

C/2/5 SFG (A) maintained the CAS umbrella continuously until elements of 1st Brigade of the 24 Infantry Division (Mechanized) arrived in Kuwait and established an operational capability on or about 19 October 1994.

Operational Outcome: Army Pre-positioned Stocks (APS) concept could not adequately respond to tactical threats emerging in the Persian Gulf area.

Strategic Outcome: The Strategic Operational gap analysis indicated in order to protect U.S. National Interest on the Arabian Peninsula; requires establishment of Brigade Combat Team (BCT) in the State of Kuwait.

On the evening of 7 October 1994, 1st Brigade of the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) based at Fort Stewart, Georgia, went on alert. The following day, lead elements of that Brigade, consisting of four line companies each from the 2/7 Infantry Battalion and 3/69 Armor Battalion plus the 2/7 Infantry Battalion Headquarters, deployed by air on orders to Camp Doha, Kuwait. Those elements completed the air movement within 48 hours. Within 72 hours, that reinforced brigade drew pre-positioned equipment stored at Camp Doha.[2] In addition two Patriot missile batteries from Fort Polk, Louisiana, were dispatched to theater.[3]

On 8 October, 1st Force Service Support Group (FSSG), I Marine Expeditionary Force, was put on alert. The 1st FSSG Forward (FWD) was manned up to deploy as the lead element for the 1st FSSG. The FSSG FWD deployed 120 Marines and equipment from March Air Force Base, California, to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, via Air Force Cargo Aircraft on 28 October 1994. The unit then traveled north by convoy to the port of Al-Jubayli. At the same time, the 3rd Brigade, 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) deployed from Fort Benning, Georgia, to the port of Ad-Dammam, which would draw pre-positioned afloat equipment.[4][5]

Also on 8 October, the 23rd Wing's (Flying Tigers) 75th Fighter Squadron (Tigersharks) and its full complement of A-10s initially deployed from Pope AFB, North Carolina to Dhahran AB, Saudi Arabia, followed by the first forward deployment to Ahmed al Jabber AB, Kuwait. This allowed better face-to-face coordination with tactical air control parties (TACP) assets further forward deployed at Camp Doha, Kuwait, and points North. They initiated the first of a series of 120-day rotations for the A-10 community that continued until Operation Iraqi Freedom commenced.

The United Kingdom's contribution was two warships, HMS Cardiff and HMS Cornwall, doubling their deployment of RAF Tornado GR1s (originally six) and increasing their troop numbers to 1,000.[6] Elements of the 45 Commando were airlifted into Kuwait. The Commandos operated alongside the 1st Brigade of 24th Infantry Division.

Iraq recalled its ground forces during the last weeks of October. With no remaining need for the combat troops, retrograde began within a few days. The Marines departed from Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, on 5 November 1994. Much of the 24th Infantry Division turned in the pre-positioned equipment and rotated out of Kuwait before Thanksgiving Day, but trail elements remained until the first days of December.[7]

Debate over Iraqi intentionsEdit

There is significant debate over Iraqi intentions during the October 1994 crisis. Saddam Hussein's son-in-law Hussein Kamel stated after his defection to Jordan in 1995 that Saddam had intended to invade Kuwait a second time but was forestalled by a rapid U.S. response to reinforce the kingdom. Others have argued that Saddam never intended to actually invade Kuwait and the movements were intended as a provocation to draw attention to Iraq's plight under the international sanctions regime.[8][9][10]

Former Republican Guard general Ra'ad al-Hamdani claimed in an interview after the 2003 invasion that Saddam had decided in September 1994 to invade Kuwait but that he had opposed Saddam during a meeting on 11 September 1994.[11]

Iraq formally recognized Kuwait's independence at the end of the crisis on 10 November 1994.[citation needed]

Awards and recognitionEdit

The Joint Meritorious Unit Award given went to HQ United States Military Training Mission Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 8 October 1994 through 15 December 1994, for Operation Vigilant Warrior.[12] U.S. servicemembers who participated were authorized the Southwest Asia Service Medal but not the Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia) or the Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait) due to these events taking place after the end dates of those specific medals.

President Clinton visited the deployed troops in late October. On 28 October, he spoke to the members of the 1st Brigade, 24th Infantry Division at their positions in the desert to the northwest of Kuwait City. Clinton emphasized the speed at which the brigade deployed deterred a repeat of the 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Clinton stated, "You got here in a very big hurry. And because of that, Iraq got the message in a very big hurry. It withdrew its forces that were massed near the Kuwaiti border."[13] And to the joy of the deployed troops, he also announced they would be home before Christmas and that they would receive additional combat zone deployment allowances (amounting to $300 per month for enlisted soldiers).[14]

Further readingEdit

  • W. Eric Herr, OPERATION Vigilant Warrior: CONVENTIONAL DETERRENCE THEORY, DOCTRINE, AND PRACTICE, School of Advanced Airpower Studies, June 1996

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Vigilant Warrior, GlobalSecurity
  2. ^ Duty logs of 1st Brigade, 24th Infantry Division, 7 to 15 October, inclusive.
  3. ^ W. Eric Herr. "The Deterrence of Operation". Retrieved 19 May 2011.
  4. ^ John Pike. "24th Infantry Division". Globalsecurity.org. Retrieved 19 May 2011.
  5. ^ Peggy A. Stelpflug; Richard Hyatt (2007). Home of the Infantry: The History of Fort Benning. Mercer University Press. p. 419. ISBN 978-0-88146-087-2.
  6. ^ "Kuwait: British Forces Mission (Hansard, 12 October 1994)". Hansard.millbanksystems.com. 12 October 1994. Retrieved 19 May 2011.
  7. ^ Personal papers of Craig Swain, Communications Officer, 2-7 Infantry Battalion during Operation Vigilant Warrior.
  8. ^ Kostiner, J. (2009). Conflict and Cooperation in the Gulf Region. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. p. 123. ISBN 9783531913377. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  9. ^ Phythian, M. (2000). The Politics of British Arms Sales Since 1964: To Secure Our Rightful Share. Manchester University Press. p. 281. ISBN 9780719059070. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  10. ^ United States Marine Corps (2005). Intelligence (Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication McDp 2). Wildside Press. p. 16. ISBN 9781557424174. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  11. ^ https://archive.org/details/saddamsgeneralsp00alex | Saddam’s Generals: Perspectives of the Iran-Iraq War, p. 37-38, 46, 61-62.
  12. ^ NAVMC 2922 Unit Awards Manual
  13. ^ "Clinton praises soldiers helping to defend Kuwait (Houston Chronicle, October 29, 1994)". Retrieved 10 October 2012.
  14. ^ "President Delivers Cheering Words to Troops in Kuwait (Los Angeles Times, October 29, 1994)". Retrieved 10 October 2012.

External linksEdit