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The information on this page is reference information about Long Range Surveillance units in the XVIII Airborne Corps, which was gathered by the producers of the documentary, Silent Victory: the Story of Company F, Long Range Patrol (Airborne) Infantry. F/51st LRS operated under the XVIII Airborne Corps and was the direct descendant of F/51st LRP, a long-range-patrol unit that operated in South Vietnam from 25 September 1967 to 1 February 1969.

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Gulf War Declassified Document, XVIII Airborne Corps

Source of the reformatted text for page 42 that is shown below: http://www.gulflink.osd.mil/declassdocs/af/19961205/120596_aacxh_42.html

 

[See the bold-face text for the passage relevant to a LRS team in the field.]

 

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[continued] all XVIII Corps units to their new positions. On 18 Jan 91, poor visibility observed at the Rafha airfield led to MAC aircraft weather aborting back to King Fahd with no further launches. Saudi observers took the Rafha airfield observations, but they were aperiodic. The MAC airlift control element (ALCE) controllers on the ground stated the Saudis were reporting conditions above actual conditions, leading to weather aborts. To quickly solve this problem, the 101st Air Assault Division (AAD) deployed a three-man weather team on 19 Jan 91 to Rafha to make weather observations and report them through airlift control center (ALCC) channels. The availability of weather observations allowed MAC airflow to avoid weather aborts, and time daily launches to arrive as visibility lifted. Thus the mobile weather team at Rafha allowed successful completion of missions on 19-21 Jan 91 which would not have otherwise been flown. During the three-day period, personnel from the 101st AAD, Hq XVIII Corps, and the 82d Airborne were airlifted to Rafha. During the period, over 1,200 C-130 missions successfully moved over 15,000 troops and 2,700 vehicles.
 
 c. CAPT Agnew (USN) and LCDR Summers (USN), both of the JIC, reported another example of weather support value. On 25 Feb 91, weather over the KTO deteriorated rapidly with overcast skies and reduced visibility in blowing sand and smoke. On 25 Feb 91, the Joint Reconnaissance Center scheduled three photo reconnaissance missions. Based on weather forecasts provided by the DOWSR and verified by the CENTCOM SWO, [(b)(1)sec 3.4 (b)(4)]
 
The forecast verified with heavy cloud cover, but due to change of collection system, CENTCOM got the required intelligence. 
 
 d. The 101st Airborne used weather for a key air assault attack to secure the northern flank during the ground war. An air assault of the 10l AAD 3d Brigade into the Tigris-Euphrates River Valley was originally scheduled for the evening of 25 Feb 91. The mission was canceled due to a forecast of strong winds. Observed conditions verified the forecast with winds over 30 knots and rain showers. The same cycle was repeated on the morning of 26 Feb 91 with 35 knots observed. At this point the 101st Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence asked for the next good "window" of opportunity. The 101st AAD SWO provided a window covering 26 Feb 91 (1300Z) to 27 Feb 91 (0000Z). Based on the window, the mission successfully flew the evening of 26 Feb 91. Dense fog formed at 0010Z 27 Feb 91, closing the window as forecast. 
 
 e. A final anecdote illustrates the value of weather support when lives are at stake. On 25 Feb 91, a long-range surveillance (LRS) team from the XVIII Corps was compromised in the early morning near Kaleel Airfield, Iraq. The compromised team called for an emergency extraction from XVIII Corps. The actual weather conditions were winds 35-45 knots and visibility at about one-half mile. The XVIII Airborne Corps SWO and forecaster (TSgt Strickland) advised the aviators flying the extraction mission, on the timing of the approaching front and to wait until the front passed, then fly due north to approach the LRS location from the west. As the front passed, winds diminished rapidly. Had the aviators flown at first call, it is unlikely they would have been able to spot the LRS team and safely land to extract them. By relying on the weather forecast, the aviators were able to approach the LRS team from the [continued]
 
 Source of the reformatted text for page 43 that is shown below:

http://www.gulflink.osd.mil/declassdocs/af/19961205/120596_aacxh_43.html

 

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[continued] west just as winds were decreasing to the speed where the extraction could be made safely. The weather support allowed pickup at first possible instance without risking resources and having mission aborts due to weather. 
 

7. (U) SUMMARY. Weather and weather support proved to be extremely critical during Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM. Weather had more of an impact on operations than Component commanders and planners had anticipated prior to the start of the war for two primary reasons first, the most serious enemy threat changed from SAMs and counter air to AAA. This change in enemy threat forced mission planners to change mission profiles from low-altitude ingress to staying above flight level 10,000. This change to a 10,000-foot operational threshold increased the amount of time weather conditions were below threshold values from 1-2 percent (as would have occurred for low-level flights) to over 33 percent of the time in the AOR for the high-altitude profile. Second, the weather during Operation DESERT STORM was significantly worse than expected from climatology, There was twice as much cloud cover below 10,000 feet as we expected from the climatological records. In spite of the poor weather, AWS forecasters at all levels and components significantly out performed several measures of "no-skill" forecasting for 0-72 hours. The AWS forecasts beat no- skill forecasts from 3 to over 15 percent for correct forecasts. For near-term forecasts (0-24 hours), AWS forecasters routinely out performed no-skill forecasts by over 10 percent. When these skill factors were applied to the operational planning and execution process, weather support produced a
9-percent increase in mission effectiveness. In operational terms, the numbers of PGMs placed on target in 43 days of the war would have taken 47 days to achieve with- out weather support--that is significant value added, and contribution to winning the war.

 

 

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