DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
XVIII AIRBORNE CORPS
FORT BRAGG, NORTH CAROLINA
US ARMY CENTER OF MILITARY HISTORY
WASHINGTON, D. C.
OPERATIONS DESERT SHIELD AND DESERT STORM
Oral History Interview
DSIT AE 009
MAJ Stephen B. Finch
Air Defense Officer
Headquarters, XVIII Airborne Corps
Interview Conducted 2 February 1991 in the XVIII Airborne Corps Main Command Post, Rafha, Northern Province, Saudi Arabia
Interviewers: MAJ Robert B. Honec, III, and SSG LaDona S. Kirkland (116th Military History Detachment)
OPERATIONS DESERT SHIELD AND DESERT STORM
7 August 1990 - 15 May 1991
Oral History Interview DSIT AE 009
MAJ HONEC: This is an Operation DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM tape. This interview is being conducted on the 2d of February, 1991, by MAJ Robert B. Honec and SSG LaDona S. Kirkland of the 116th Military History Detachment at the XVIII Airborne Corps Main Command Post in Rafha, Saudi Arabia. Sir, for the record, could you state your full name, rank, Social Security number, unit and duty position?
MAJ FINCH: I'm MAJ Stephen B. Finch, ***-**-****. I am the Corps Air Defense Officer, also known as Air Defense Element Chief.
MAJ HONEC: Okay, sir. In chronological order starting with Fort Bragg, [North Carolina], forward to today, would you go over the air defense network that was set up for DESERT SHIELD?
MAJ FINCH: First I want to talk about deployment, force allocation. Now, by doctrine the corps should have an air defense brigade consisting of a mix of HIMAD1 and SHORAD2 forces--battalions. In December of 89 by a MOU3 between FORSCOM,4 the corps, and 11th ADA5 Brigade based at Fort Bliss, [Texas], and other posts, [the] 11th ADA Brigade was aligned for planning and operations--previously had been only by DA6 planning--it was formally aligned with the XVIII Airborne Corps. Now, this fulfilled our doctrinal requirement. And we had the INTERNAL LOOK exercise7 and we finalized the TPFDL8 and plan for 1002. In other words Mid East deployment; Iraq scenario. This was the force deployment plan--that we would deploy all the brigades of--battalions--of the 11th ADA Brigade with the corps. Pretty early, because of the known threat of Iraqi very large fixed-wing air force, helicopters and especially missiles.
This was formally presented to the Corps Commander, then LTG [Carl W.] Stiner by then the 11th ADA Brigade Commander, COL Smith at a May 18th, 1989, briefing at Fort Bragg.9 As I say the TPFDL and the 1002 plan called for full deployment of that brigade. And this formally agreed with FORSCOM; LTG [John] Yeosock, of course (the Third Army Commander); and the corps. And very much a goal of 11th ADA Brigade and of the XVIII Airborne Corps, particularly the DCG10 MG [William A.] Roosma. However, when the crisis broke, there were two decisions externally that changed the deployment and caused us great inconvenience, that we've since overcome.
First of all LTG Yeosock decided that he would take the only active CONUS11 ADA brigade as he deployed forward with his assets, because the ADA brigade that was to be aligned with him was a Reserve Component one that was--National Guard, in fact, Florida--that was not operational yet. So he decided he would take 11th ADA Brigade away from us. And he had a couple of schemes for giving us other things in return: a brigade from Fort Lewis, [Washington], for instance, the 35th.
However, GEN [Norman] Schwarzkopf, CINCCENT,12 under the influence of LTG [Charles] Horner, CENTAF,13 agreed that the Air Force could handle the air threat and that no Army Air Defense (HIMAD; corps and echelon above corps [EAC]) would be deployed at least for the first 40 days. Then they recognized the missile threat and they said okay, exception, they will deploy some Patriot forward to defend the Air Force bases. In fact it was the Air Force CENTAF Commander, LTG Horner, who was most stringently calling for that. He wanted missile defense of his bases which could be interdicted and struck from the ... even as they were trying to deploy the Air Force. You realize the Air Force deployed itself first, and tiny elements of corps and ARCENT.14
Now, this was very unsatisfactory to ARCENT, to LTG Yeosock. And his people counter-proposed various other alignments and other ways to get HAWK15 and other things in, and the corps SHORAD and EAC assets. But they were all turned down, at least for the first 40 days. 11th ADA Brigade accepted that and went ahead and deployed the first Patriot elements to Dhahran, which was initially two batteries of 2/7 ADA (Patriot).16 And they came under very difficult conditions, stripped down to what could fit into a C-5A17 with no support on the ground and ambivalent command relation[ship]s, and it was a very difficult time for them.
MAJ HONEC: Date of this time?
MAJ FINCH: Late August, as air flow permitted. And we're fortunate the Iraqis didn't interfere with our deployment in any way. The capability was there and people were concerned about it. And then gradually the Air force and CINCCENT relented, and 11th ADA Brigade over the months was able to deploy, what they really should have had, most of their brigade force. They deployed it as in ARCENT force--EAC, above corps. They were still trying to do what was doctrinally sound, provide the Corps an EAC force.
They never did get their Chaparral battalion over from Fort Stewart, [Georgia], and that's still sitting there yet. And we have a strong need for it, in the 24th [Infantry Division's] sector for instance, but we don't have that. They were able to bring over all their force except for that. And as you know, events justified the Patriot very much. And more and more and more Patriot keeps being fed over here from the U.S. and from CONUS so that now we're bringing in elements this week of the seventh Patriot battalion.
All right, with the situation changing, as I say, the 11th Brigade finally was able to bring over a force that it could dedicate to the corps of HIMAD and SHORAD. Now, they couldn't say that the 11th Brigade itself would be dedicated to the Corps. And they have used their headquarters which does have some basis in TOE as the ADA brigade headquarters for both the Corps (and we call that slice 11th ADA Brigade [-]), and for EAC/ARCENT. And they call that properly 11th Brigade. And that's not unity of command and it's dissatisfactory to both sides, but we've had to live with it. It stretches them very thin.
Anyway, we now have, and was able to dedicate during the prosecution of DESERT SHIELD, a force to the corps of one SHORAD battalion (5/62 ADA18) and a composite Patriot/HAWK task force (three batteries of each, Task Force 2-1. And for the first time, except for some experiments in REFORGER19 then, we have then had Patriots and HAWK in support of a maneuver corps. Which is a very good thing and, you know, everybody sort of accepts it, but it grew over a long time. And there isn't much doctrine to support that, we've evolved it. There has been a lot of firsts in this, and we see now that it's right.
Then as we transitioned to DESERT STORM, we very early--now everybody is very concerned about it--deployed to the TAA20 our full HIMAD Task Force (2-1) within ... among the first elements to come in. And certainly within a week we had deployed all six batteries. And then with HAWK we defend against aircraft (virtually the entire TAA), and Patriot in the missile role is defending the three greatest priorities of the general,21 which he very closely manages. Those being at this time Rafha itself (the airfield, the Main [CP], and things around here); Log[istical] Base CHARLIE, our largest logistic center; and the Corps Tac[tical] CP in [T]AA MAPLE. And if we had more we would deploy them and defend more things probably.
I would also now address the topic of interaction with the host national air defense. Because by doctrine and planning the corps had ... this corps was prepared for contingency operation and deployment. In other words, where we come into a place that's bare-bones: no base structure, no air space control structure, no early warning structure, and so forth. As opposed to in Europe, where you go into a mature theatre as they call it where you have very large structure of early warnings, surveillance, and control and coordination. We didn't plan for much of that here.
Oh, there was some planning. The S-3 of the 11th Brigade, MAJ Kerry Proffer, had served as an advisor as to the Kuwaitis during Iran/Iraq War and was familiar with the structure they have here: the sector control centers and the HAWK control center that the Saudis have in place. And in his 1021 and 1002 plans was a provision that even before deployment, hopefully, we would send out ADA (11th Brigade and FORSCOM) liaison teams to those host nation air defense centers to integrate them with us and to use their capabilities. And this was an action I particular worked in the early days of the deployment with ARCENT and with the 11th Brigade. And we stole people from units that weren't deploying yet, and we did that. And in the event I ended up being part of that, because initially no air defense officers of the corps staff deployed with the Assault CP in the first days. Later they realized that was a mistake and they called back. And particularly the problem of dealing with the host nation command and control structure which was much greater and important than we had thought. I got an order in the middle of the night, you know, to deploy over. So I came over on 13 August, a few days after ... I guess on C+7 or something like that I guess.
MAJ HONEC: So you had 24-hours notice?
MAJ FINCH: Oh, less than that.
MAJ HONEC: Less than that.
MAJ FINCH: Woke in the night and said get over there as soon as you can. And I was placed by order of the commander on the ground, BG(P) [Edison E.] Scholes22 in the Saudi ESCC (Eastern Sector Control Center) at Dhahran, which is the control center for General Turki. Because we had realized as we're a helicopter-heavy corps of a thousand helicopters, we couldn't even fly in the host nation air space without having permission and coordination with the host nation. They were aggressively going to control their air space, and they had the in-place surveillance and control structures to do it. And they had a very large air defense oriented toward Iran, unfortunately, and along the east coast that we had to reckon with.
So that was the immediate reason I was deployed. I went in as corps liaison to the Sector Center on behalf of ... at the order of BG Scholes, on behalf of both aviation (had an air traffic control officer there) and air defense. And we took advantage in the early days of the much greater and stronger Saudi air defense and surveillance network [for] command and control. Hard-wired in, data linked computers, more advanced than some of the things the U.S. had in place; a really impressive system, and they really emphasized centralized control. And in fact we still are under that even though we have pulled out of that mission just as we came here. It's the Eastern Sector commander, General Turki, who will be part of the initial decisions to identify and engage hostile aircraft even where we are. We kind of had to get his permission through the U.S. Air Force CRCs at Dhahran and KKMC23 and our own HIMAD control FDC.24 So we maintained that liaison. I did it for a month or two and we got other officers from 11th Brigade to continue that until the deployment here to the TAA last week.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
MAJ FINCH: And a lot of the work I have done has been to integrate the U.S. and host nation and now Allied air defense systems and controls. For instance, I was tasked by CENTCOM and ARCENT in December to go do a survey of the Northern Area Command air defense systems. Those are the Syrian, Egyptian, Saudi and French divisions. I was part of a committee of officers that visited each of those places, made agreements with them, exchanged doctrine, made sure we had a common understanding of the terms, and planned for a combined center of control and liaison which has grown now up in the CRC and KKMC for all those forces. And it's kind of been the model.
And my model has been at each point, basically what I did in the ESCC: bring in a liaison from air defense and aviation of each national force. He brings with him some means of communication (phone, HF25, etc.), and he represents his national systems. We maintain a centralized control. We provide early warning out to the units and provide information on the overall air defense and integrate it that way. And we provide the information on each other's air movements so that one center is completely informed of air movements and one center controls air defense--identification, engagement and so forth.
And I first set that up in ESCC and then I did it later in North Air Command [at] KKMC, and that kind of has grown a lot. You know, as you bring in a liaison from each force and put it in one center where a lot of communications ... by its own increased capabilities, it becomes a node of operational information. If you want to know something, you know, those guys talk to each other and they know a lot. And if you want to find out information on a fast-developing battle ... and, of course, the missile age has pushed us into things that take seconds and much shorter reaction time of battle management than we had ever expected, and we ... that's the way to do it. When I was in the corps headquarters, of course, and a SCUD26 battle was going on, I'd call my liaison (I had a direct line to ESCC), and he had direct line phone into the ICC control center of the local Patriots. So that was how we'd find out what was fired and what was shot and killed or missed or whatever.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. If we could go back, could you give me the name of those officers that were on that committee that you were talking about?
MAJ FINCH: Oh, yes. From ARCENT we had MAJ Bryan Nye who is a liaison from 11th Brigade and so on. And we had a major, I think Bryan Diaz, on behalf of CENTCOM who is a, what do they call it, military assistance officer over here.
MAJ HONEC: Okay, we're continuing with the list of officers on the committee. Would you continue, sir?
MAJ FINCH: Oh yes. Well, it was a MAJ Bryan Nye of ARCENT; MAJ Bryan Diaz representing CENTCOM (Air Defense officer also); and another major of Marines from CENTCOM J-6, [a] communications specialist, because the important thing was communications to tie in all the different forces. And we were overcoming an extremely primitive arrangement there and guiding the Saudis and the Northern Area Command in how to set up effective communications for all that.
MAJ HONEC: Great.
MAJ FINCH: We worked with a Lieutenant Misfer, a commo officer of the 6th Saudi Air Defense Group headquartered in KKMC, and with his general. That was the committee.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. That's fine, okay. Let's see, okay, so that's ... okay. Now could you go over how we ... some specifics about how we interdicted the SCUD threat specifically; how the system works, how the ... well, we already did pretty much the coordination between ...
MAJ FINCH: Have you talked to anybody from Patriot yet?
MAJ HONEC: No, I haven't, sir, no.
MAJ HONEC: All right.
MAJ FINCH: So that would be good if you had a point of contact.
MAJ FINCH: You can go visit one of the batteries probably. Better yet, go back to the 2/7 guys still in Dhahran. The same unit has done a disproportionate number of engagements. And in fact one, lieutenant, McMurtry, who we brought to the Corps is, you know, you get a coin and congratulations, has done a disproportionate number of the control of engagements. I guess he's the first ace or something.
SSG KIRKLAND: So he's in Dhahran I take it?
MAJ FINCH: Right. The south end of the airfield.27 We can get that. Now, the 11th Brigade rep here, LTC Edwards will probably help you with that.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
MAJ FINCH: All right, SCUD attacks. Gee, I don't know ...
MAJ HONEC: How many clean kills; how many have slipped by for whatever reasons?
MAJ FINCH: Well, we've got a statistical summary on it back in our log we'll have to dig out for you. I believe they've fired ... one of ... that summary it said about 90 missiles. We have fired about 90 Patriots and the statistics are about 2.6 Patriots fired for every SCUD killed.
MAJ HONEC: Sounds good.
MAJ FINCH: A lot is involved there. Just as we talked about in the days of discussion and theorizing about interception of ICBMs, we found the same thing to be kind of true here. These SCUDs are really badly constructed and they sometimes even break up as they come in the atmosphere apparently. And you may have up to five pieces of things coming in. And the missile ... and they all have the same trajectory, so at that point the missile control will see them as five missiles coming in even though it's one warhead and four parts.
MAJ HONEC: Interesting, interesting.
MAJ FINCH: So it will engage them with that many. So we had sometimes ... like they talk about the night of a thousand missiles--in Riyadh they fired some thirty-some-odd Patriots at a raid which we're never sure of how many it was incoming, but perhaps it was as few as six. I think these are some of the reasons it was. Because the system will engage one thing coming in and see if there's anything left, then shoot again at the target remaining. Even to the point of ... they had one story that as a SCUD was coming into the ground a second Patriot ... [it] had already been hit once, a warhead had separated and come in toward the ground, a Patriot launched to engage that, went through a building and followed it into the ground.
So we knew from theoretical studies from NMIST as we came over here at the beginning that a hit by a Patriot Pac 2 missile on a SCUD, which is disproportionate in size (a ratio of about one to three or four), could occur head-on in which the warhead would be destroyed. Or could in many cases occur back on the missile body, in which case you'd have the warhead separate, continue to the ground, and possibly other pieces (almost always debris of some kind), and the warhead in theory could even function. And I think we may have had some examples of that even after a successful intercept by a Patriot.
Well, a lot of this was in the realm of theory before and now everybody is going around with special teams and so on and trying to analyze the craters and computer tapes and figure out exactly what did happen. The truth is, you know, almost all of them have been intercepted before they entered the target area, and I guess everybody is pretty satisfied with the performance. It exceeded most people's expectations, for a system that was really designed for aircraft and not missiles.
You should know that the modifications to make this into an anti-missile system had only been designed and thought about before we deployed. And the actual software to make that happen and the new missile called the Pac 2 to make it happen by having a quicker fuse and a warhead with a larger particle size, was deployed after the units deployed over here. And they deployed late August or something like that, first from the 2/7. They sent them over the software, put the software in the system, which normally you would do in a fielding process of months back in the States. They put the new software in the system, started trying it, and you know, put it together. And they changed their practices, you know, how to put the launchers in remote and the radar in remote and so on, and how to do the crew drills to make that happen. And made considerable innovations that saved a lot of time and made them able to engage something with little or no warning.
Because at first, you know, we had to plan to have warning. Patriot needs warning to go into long range search even when it's in missile role and get more time to engage. We're talking, you know, about missiles that come in--the SCUD-B at 1,600 meters per second and the [Al]-Hussein [and] Al-Abbas28 at 2,000 and 2,400 meters per second, respectively--from an angle of 45 degrees or even steeper. So that they travel through the range of your detection in about six seconds. They told me their engagements were averaging initially about six seconds.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
MAJ FINCH: We had planned that there would be a national-level system giving us some early warning. The NORAD29 controlled--SPACECOM30-controlled--IR31-detecting satellite systems, and other things, TIBS and other such passive detectors so we would detect the launch within a minute or two. And we had ways to hook up terminals of this to nodes where the Patriot would know about that, be able to go into long range search, remote their launchers, and so forth. But the first launch occurred with no real warning, and not enough to help. So the system--just on automatic--identified it and engaged successfully. The second one, they had a little more warning. And the lieutenant made a real key decision, apparently, to separate what appeared to be one target, but was actually two; and automatically engage one and manually engage the second. The same guy, 1LT McMurtry. That was the first engagements in-country at Dhahran ...
MAJ HONEC: These two targets were two missiles?
MAJ FINCH: ... two successive nights.
MAJ HONEC: Oh, okay.
MAJ FINCH: Yes. Oh, yes. The second one was a two-missile engagement.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
MAJ FINCH: And one was automatic and one he recognized and engaged manually and both successful ... kills, one missile and one target. It was really pretty awesome. And then as you know, the tempo picked up from then. As by doctrine he tried to mass his fires, put four or five, you know, and work all through the night and so on. And it got pretty intense there, but now it seems to have eased off.
They've ... and I just found out, we talked about innovations and bringing the software over. The interesting thing is, in both HAWK and Patriot systems, the changes that give new capabilities are not hardware changes necessarily but software changes. Just like with your home computer, you know, you understand it, you know, you don't put a new system on it, but you bring a new set of software in and put that in--something that has great ... more capabilities. The same with our systems. I just found out on a visit to the Patriot here a couple of days ago, they're innovating a new software system. They've picked out some lessons learned; how they can clean up some of the images and targets and things. And the company has written new software and they've fielded that, in even while they're deployed. Which if you think of it, it's really rather remarkable in terms of system evolution.
MAJ HONEC: Well, they must have a hell of a CM--configuration management--situation there.
MAJ FINCH: I don't know. It's young lieutenants out in the field and company tech[nical] rep[resentative]s. You know, they deployed with Raytheon tech reps from the first day. And you have these guys, you know, with big stomachs and, you know, with baseball cap and who knows what, that came over on the first planes, living in hard conditions and stayed with them out here making a valuable contribution.
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
SSG KIRKLAND: Sir, I have a question about the software. This is a computer-driven missile system, the Patriot I'm talking about, it's computer-driven. So what if you have a computer crash, can it be manually done?
MAJ FINCH: No way.
SSG KIRKLAND: No. Have you ever ... do you have a backup system? If there is a computer crash, is there a backup system?
MAJ FINCH: No way.
SSG KIRKLAND: So then that means the Patriot is just out of commission then ...
MAJ FINCH: That's right.
SSG KIRKLAND: ... if the system crashes?
MAJ FINCH: That's right.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. That's all I needed to know.
MAJ FINCH: It's not like a gun. This is the age of computers and the age of missiles. I told you those engagements were averaging six seconds. None of that's possible for a human being. Although, you know, that one guy made one manual engagement. Of course he's telling the computer what to do, just pushing a button.
SSG KIRKLAND: Yes, it's impossible.
MAJ FINCH: And reading a computer screen.
MAJ HONEC: Okay, super. Okay, talk briefly about the shift of ADA coverage from Dhahran to here at Rafha--the issues involved?
MAJ FINCH: We simply looked at what we had to cover here by priority, and what we had to cover and uncover in priority in the old site. And basically we moved our southern-most unit first as infantry and other units deployed or were sifted to other sectors that we no longer needed to defend them. We moved that unit first out the furthest out to the new tactical assembly area. In succession, that's how it went ... moving by echelon, so something is moving and something is covering. We have three basic pieces, you know. We set up out here with a Patriot battery and two HAWK platoons (which is one HAWK battery).
MAJ HONEC: Okay.
MAJ FINCH: And, they ... you know, you move one of those pieces, sometimes half of that. As they uncover one asset or the asset moves, and as we move another asset in here. They all did a very good job of convoying basically using their own assets, whereas other units had to get a lot of non-organic transportation: HETs32, some lowboys. The Patriots on the HEMTT33 (admirably mobile vehicle, envy of everybody out here), and the HAWKs with their own five-tons and things, just moved themselves in 24 hour convoys in accordance with the corps movement planning. And we moved on, let's see, about D+3 and about D+6. The second move was delayed one day, but we ... this had very high priority. And we established, I think, a defense of the TAA very early before most other things were here. That's ideal, you want to move into a place already defended.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Okay, fine. That concludes the interview with MAJ Finch on the ADA situation here at DESERT STORM.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
1. High and medium range air defense.
2. Short range air defense.
3. Memorandum of understanding.
4. United States Army Forces Command.
5. Air Defense Artillery.
6. Department of the Army.
7. A command post exercise (CPX) in late July 1990 conducted by US Central Command (CENTCOM) to test the 1990 version of Operations Plan (OPLAN) 1002, the scenario for deployment in Southwest Asia.
8. Time-phased force deployment list.
9. NOTE: By MAJ Finch's date, this briefing took place a year before INTERNAL LOOK.
10. Deputy Commanding General.
11. Continental United States.
12. Commander in Chief, US Central Command.
13. Central Air Forces.
14. United States Army Forces, Central. Performed by Third Army.
16. 2d Battalion (Patriot), 7th Air Defense Artillery.
17. Galaxy cargo airplane, technically C-5B.
18. 5th Battalion, 62d Air Defense Artillery.
19. Return of Forces to Germany, and annual exercise involving deployments of US-based units to Europe.
20. Tactical assembly area.
21. LTG Gary E. Luck, Commanding General, XVIII Airborne Corps.
22. XVIII Airborne Corps Chief of Staff who led the Assault Command Post on the first aircraft deployed. He served during most of the deployment as the DCG.
23. King Khalid Military City.
24. Fire direction center.
25. High Frequency radio.
26. SS-1C SCUD-B Soviet-manufactured medium range ballistic missile.
27. King Abdul Aziz Royal Saudi Air Base in Dhahran. This battery was filmed and videotaped by XVIII Airborne Corps History Office personnel in conjunction with members of the Joint Combat Camera Team after the first SCUD engagements.
28. Iraqi-produced modifications of the basic SCUD to achieve greater range and payload.
29. North American Air Defense Command.
30. United States Space Command.
32. Heavy equipment transporters.
33. Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck.