Devil Dog M60s in Desert Storm
When Saddam crossed into Kuwait in August 1990 and sparked the Operation Desert Shield build-up to defend Saudi Arabia, the first “armor” on the ground were 51 Sheridans of the 82nd Airborne. The first real tanks were composed of M60A1 RISE tanks, then an outdated design that could still hold its own, of the 7th Marine Expeditionary Brigade which had flown in from California and married up with Maritime Pre-Positioning Force equipment by 25 August. Over the next several months, most of the armor battalions in the Marines would arrive to man the gun line in the desert.
Some 27 years ago today, on 24 February 1991, after 39 days of a “Shock and Awe (™)” air campaign, the U.S.-led coalition began to liberate Iraqi-occupied Kuwait and methodically destroy most of Hussein’s army, then the 4th largest army in the world. Some 100 hours later and it was all over.
The Marines, notably, had more armor in the desert than the British, who shipped 170 Challenger tanks from Europe.
From the U.S. Army Armor & Cavalry Collection:
As current Marine Tankers train here at the U.S. Army Armor School, their history is part of our focus too. Though not an actual part of our collection (it’s Marine property), we assist in taking care of this special M60A1 RISE Passive. This exact tank was the personal mount of Lieutenant Colonel “Buster” Diggs, commander of the 3rd Tank Battalion, U.S.M.C., during Operation Desert Storm. While the older M60A1 lacked thermal sights and had a 105mm M68 main gun compared to the newer M1A1’s 120mm M256 main gun, the Marine M60’s performed just as well against Iraqi-manned Soviet-built T-72s. Of the 210 Marine M60A1s involved in the 100-hours offensive, none were lost to enemy fire. Today, “Buster” guards the headquarters of the U. S. Marine Corps Detachment, Fort Benning