Reports From the Field
Jan. 29, 1991
NEAR THE KUWAIT BORDER (AP) _ ''Peacemaker'' is an unlikely name for a 203mm cannon capable of sending shrapnel and high explosives several miles into enemy lines. But Sgt. Robert Vasquez thinks the name of his cannon is well chosen.
''It is not meant to be funny,'' he said. ''Saddam Hussein has created a situation where the only way the world is going to find peace is by blasting him and his war machine to kingdom come.''
Vasquez is a member of one of two Marine artillery batteries that staged a late night raid on an Iraqi military supply depot Sunday night. The mobile howitzers along with 155mm guns snuck up to the border, fired a quick 36 rounds a piece and then did a quick retreat out of Iraqi range.
''The purpose is to harm and harass the enemy, to keep him on his toes then knock him on his butt,'' said Capt. Mark Murphy, commander of the 203mm battery.
NORTHERN SAUDI ARABIA (AP) - A Navy pilot rescued in a daring mission behind enemy lines last week was just getting ready to run from approaching Iraqi forces when a search team swooped in and saved him, according to team members.
''He looked a bit stressed but he was happy to see us,'' said one of the helicopter crew members.
The crew agreed to be interviewed on ground their names not be used and most details of the operation be kept secret.
They said it took three swings through an area just outside an Iraqi city to find the pilot. At first, they were not sure whether a beacon they were following was malfunctioning or if the pilot had moved.
''He was laying down, trying to hide,'' a crew member said.
But an Iraqi military truck, apparently following the same beacon, was racing to the scene.
''He was getting up to run because they were going after him,'' the crew member said.
But two Air Force A-10s flying combat support for the search team opened fire on the truck, strafing it until its driver jumped out and fled.
''We were damn glad to pick him up,'' said the second squad member. ''We have accomplished something we have trained for for six months.''
IN SAUDI ARABIA (AP) - The talk of the war has been about the high-tech planes, laser-guided bombs and swift-moving tanks.
But infantrymen digging in the northern Saudi desert are predicting their day is coming as well.
''When it gets down to small buildings, nobody but a grunt goes in there,'' said Spc. Scott A. Gill, 21, of The Dalles, Ore., a member of Delta Company.
At some point, the allies expect to march into Kuwait City, where most believe they will encounter Iraqi soldiers hiding in urban areas.
''The toughest thing for a commander to do is to decide when the dismounts have to get out of the tracks and onto the ground,'' said Lt. Col. David Gross, commander of a task force that includes Delta Company. ''We don't intend to do any operations where we are into the strength of the enemy.''
Gross said armor and artillery would be used first to soften enemy forces before infantry are sent in to finish the job. Gill says the job will carry a high price - in casualties.
''The most expensive part of this will be rooting them out,'' said Gill. ''Urban warfare, sniper fire from hundreds of buildings. That is going to be more expensive than trench warfare.''
AN AIR BASE IN THE PERSIAN GULF (AP) - The latest addition to Britain's air arsenal in the Persian Gulf went on line with the first flight of the Buccaneer bomber from this British base.
The venerable Buccaneer - a machine of the 1960s - comes equipped with laser targeting equipment so accurate that ''you could actually take out one window with this,'' said one newly arrived crew member.
Two of the tan airplanes took off on a training flight Monday. The aircraft, originally designed for the navy, have been adopted by the Royal Air Force and are expected to be used to seek out targets on the ground.
Gen. Sir Peter de la Billiere, commander of British forces, said Friday that Britain was dispatching Buccaneers to the gulf to give the RAF high-level bombing capacity.
''I actually flew one of these things for the first time 21 years ago,'' said Wing Commander Bill Cope, 43. ''They have added a lot of modifications to it. She's a good one. She's excellent.''
The two-seater Buccaneers will be used to pinpoint targets for the British Tornado and Jaguar attack planes, a tactic called laser spiking. The Tornados and Jaguars will drop ''smart bombs'' that will follow the laser beams to the targets.