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 066
MAJ Jeff Bruckner
24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) Liaison Officer
to XVIII Airborne Corps
Interview Conducted 16 March 1991 at the XVIII Airborne Corps Main Command Post, Rafha, Saudi Arabia
Interviewer: MAJ Robert K. Wright, Jr., XVIII Airborne Corps Historian
OPERATIONS DESERT SHIELD AND DESERT STORM
7 August 1990 - 15 May 1991
Oral History Interview DSIT AE 066
MAJ WRIGHT: This is an Operation DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM interview being conducted on 16 March 1991 in the XVIII Airborne Corps Main Command Post at Rafha, [Northern Province], Saudi Arabia. The interviewing official is MAJ Robert K. Wright, Jr., XVIII Airborne Corps Historian.
And, sir, if I could get you to give your name, rank, and serial number?
MAJ BRUCKNER: MAJ Jeff Bruckner. My social security number is ***-**-****. I'm the 24th Infantry Division LNO.
MAJ WRIGHT: That is liaison officer from the division to XVIII Airborne Corps?
MAJ BRUCKNER: Correct.
MAJ WRIGHT: How long were you in that position when Operation DESERT SHIELD kicked off?
MAJ BRUCKNER: I actually wasn't. I was sent to XVIII Airborne Corps and I became the LNO at the same time. I signed in 1 August  and deployed the 5th of August. There was a weekend in between.
MAJ WRIGHT: When you deployed to Ft. Bragg, [North Carolina], from Ft. Stewart, [Georgia] ...
MAJ BRUCKNER: Correct.
MAJ WRIGHT: ... what were you told at the time you departed the division? What guidance were you given by the Chief of Staff or the CG [Commanding General, MG Barry McCaffrey]?
MAJ BRUCKNER: I wasn't given much--much guidance. At that time it was hard to even concede that we would deploy anybody, much less the entire division. The perception was that if anybody went out, it would be a DRB [Division Ready Brigade] of the 82d [Airborne Division], and if any of our forces would go, it would have been something on the order of ... something that would have been air transportable--a platoon, a tank platoon, a mech[anized infantry] platoon, so on and so forth. So basically they were just looking for information, trying to find out what was going on out there. As the situation changed, there was increased credibility in [our] coming, and so what they did is, they left me there. As time went on they just didn't feel they needed to send a planner that had been in the division longer.
MAJ WRIGHT: You deploy up to Ft. Bragg. You sit there and watch the initial events unfold and the growing escalation of how much of the Corps is going to be kicked out. At the time that they start identifying that in point of fact we are going to move the full 24th, what function do you play in trying to orchestrate that movement?
MAJ BRUCKNER: I would like to just say up front that when the order came down, the order--the execution order--was not ... it was just a warning order to move the 82d, one DRB of the 82d, and then on-order to be prepared to move a brigade of the 24th. And we only had one maneuver brigade there [at Fort Stewart]. The other was redeploying from NTC [the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California], so that was, you know, that was what was happening when I deployed up there.
So when it came down that they moved the DRB and gave a warning order for the remaining--the division--that happened so quickly that it was still on order to move the division up, but because of the transit time of the ships necessary to move them, those ships were actually ordered and that was done through WWMCCS [World-Wide Message Command and Control System] and the people at Bragg. But ships were flown before execution orders were actually published, which led to the tremendous ... tremendously quick move they made.
MAJ WRIGHT: In terms of making the move happen, this being the first time in recent memory that the Army had actually attempted to deploy a full heavy division (in toto), as opposed to one of the light deployments on a REFORGER [Return of Forces to Germany exercise] where you are drawing POMCUS [Positioning of Materiel Configured in Unit Sets] and things like that, what kind of functions did you play for the division?
MAJ BRUCKNER: Let me be up front with you at this time. I am an infantry officer, so I did not know a lot about WWMCCS. I didn't know a lot about transportation activities. One of the first things I quickly found out was that the people that did know how to move things within the Corps--not taking anything away from the officers, but there are a bunch of NCOs--many of which like MSG Smith, MSG Heron, Mr. [George] Trulove, those three individuals have been doing this all their lives: moving troops, moving gear, moving [the] 82d on short notice. And this was old hat to those guys. After I broke that code, it was just a matter of finding out what the pieces of information [were] that they needed to move the 24th Infantry Division.
MAJ WRIGHT: Okay. Pick up again. You talk about being able to crack the code of who the smart guys were. Would you say that just that ability to have somebody face-to-face there at Fort Bragg that could track that down made the division's move smoother by making it easier for your people to gain information?
MAJ BRUCKNER: Well, there was no doubt that--see, their job was, three individuals input all the data to move in excess of 100, maybe 150,000 troops and all their equipment. They didn't have time to be doing the things, the specific things for the units. So that my role was quickly finding out what it was they needed to move units within the 24th Infantry Division; going back to the Division, finding out those pieces of information; and passing those on to MSG Smith, [MSG] Heron, and so on.
We found out very quickly that we felt we needed eight FSSs, fast surface ships, to move our division. Our goal was to drive a requirement in WWMCCS that would allow us to give transportation ... TRANSCOM [US Transportation Command] the authorization document to fill that request. And we found that by picking those units in a set priority, we filled those ships. We backed into the solution, but it was the expertise of people that do that every day. It certainly couldn't have been done by--I say that not knowing my WWMCCS guys down at the 24th--but people that do that on a day-to-day basis speeded that process up, I would say.
MAJ WRIGHT: You were also involved early on, I guess in relaying quickly to the Division Commander and his key staff the sense of what is happening, expedite getting the commander's intent from the Corps down to the Division?
MAJ BRUCKNER: Yes. One of the things, I would say, that all LNOs--anybody that is in that position--needs to really ... if he doesn't have access to the Commander, to understand what his intent is, it makes his job all that much more difficult. And very simple for me, I understood that my mission was to move the Division, get transportation assets to move the Division from Savannah to [Ad] Dammam port. And to me that meant eight FSSs or equivalents, and there was only one air package which turned out, I think, to be eight C-130s [Hercules]--correction, C-141s [Starlifters]--and that took a few ass chewings that I took from the FORSCOM [US Army Forces Command] commanders and stuff like that. But it was just simple. You know, that is what my mission was, and I learned to be thick-skinned early on in that business.
MAJ WRIGHT: How long did you stay at Ft. Bragg working out of the EOC [Emergency Operations Center]?
MAJ BRUCKNER: I actually worked out of the [G-3] Plans shop, upstairs in the vault,1 although I did make shift changes [twice a day shift change briefings] and stuff out of EOC. But I worked there from the 5th or 6th of August until I actually deployed on the 25th, somewhere, the 26th or something, so about 20 days.
MAJ WRIGHT: And the third floor Corps headquarters, up in the vault area where the Plans shop is, is not a particularly spacious area. Things are pretty cramped to begin with. Where did you and the other LNOs have to wind up pitching camp?
MAJ BRUCKNER: Well, initially I walked into Corps and I was the only LNO there. I sat right down in [MAJ] Lane Toomey's desk. He deployed that same day, and I immediately became a member of the planning team, to the point where I would do what I had to do for my Division, but then in the other time I would be making slides for briefings for the planners, for [MAJ Terry] Peck, and so forth, which facilitated two things: It helped them do their job, and it also gave me access to their information that I needed to pass to my Division.
Being part of the solution rather than part of the problem was like a key to getting the information and the access to information necessary to do the job. It wasn't until probably around the 15th (in that area) that other LNOs started coming in, and then we actually made--they moved everyone out into the hallways. And so I, although I maintained a presence and used the computers back in MAJ Toomey's desk and MAJ Peck's desk and things of that nature, I maintained--I sat out there with the 24th just so that I was not different from anyone, from the other LNOs.
MAJ WRIGHT: Division starts moving. Corps Main is then alerted to deploy. Do you deploy with the Division or do you deploy with Corps Main?
MAJ BRUCKNER: I ... it wasn't clear. Initially, everyone got jerked around. I say that, and this is purely my perception, that what happened is that we had 82d ... the 82d, the first DRB that was going in or was deploying from Green Ramp,2 and all of a sudden at a certain point of time ... and you know, that is months ago now, seven months ago ... the entire airflow was shut off, mysteriously diverted up to the MARCENT [Marine Forces Central Command]. It wasn't MARCENT at that time, it was 1st Mar[ine] Div[ision] or whatever--whatever ... .
In any event, there were actually ships flowing and being loaded down in Savannah, as the first DRB was still being loaded out at Green Ramp, and it was obvious that there was somebody above LTG [Gary] Luck, the XVIII Airborne Corps, that was controlling assets. And it was a very frustration situation for XVIII Airborne Corps, because now they were competing for assets at national command authority level and they were not able to flow their troops, their forces.
It was at that point in time where, you know, up to this point, up to about the 15th, 16th, 17th [of August] time frame, the 82d was going to get the initial airflow. The ships which would proceed, would be in a much slower surface, you know, obviously a much slower means of employment, were going to the 24th, and the right behind the 82d was the 101st. Initially it would look like that the 82d and the 101st would be in-country, and sometime way down the road the 24th would get there.
But it became quite obvious as, I think it was the [USNS] Cappella [TAKR-293] and the [USNS] Bellatrix [TAKR-288] came in, and within 24 hours they were loaded and underway with only a 14-day steam time, that there were going to be large forces, a large amount of forces arriving. You know, this is early in August. They were actually arriving there [at Ad Dammam on] the 27th or 28th, I think that the record will show. So it was like nothing and the 24th would be there, up until about the 26th of August, and then all of a sudden eight ships were going to pull in one after another and be off-loaded, and the entire Division would be there. And so it became quickly apparent that it looks like the assets were going to be made available to move the entire Division in a 10-day block--a 10-day
window--and where they would arrive in a 10-day window, which was phenomenal. Had the [USNS] Antares [TAKR-294] not had to be actually towed at like five knots across the Atlantic, it would have been incredibly ... it would have been a remarkable deployment.
The whole time, the 82d could have been here with adequate airflow in, you know, maybe 10 days--the entire 82d--but as it was, they competed for assets at National Command Authority [and] somewhere made the decision that, hey, they are getting a trickle. There was always conflicting, you know, we need boots on the ground; we don't need logistics; we need logistics; we need heavy forces. They were always changing priorities.
The whole time when all this was going on at National Command Authority, XVIII Airborne Corps, CENTCOM, ARCENT [US Army Central Command] headquarters, the whole time there were eight ships underway on the ocean that were closing on ... going through the Suez Canal. So really the function of the deployment of the XVIII Airborne Corps--getting there all in one fell swoop--it was almost as if the 82d and the 24th just descended almost all at once. It was a function of the fact that many of the assets were diverted other places in the early stages of the deployment.
That will help give you some idea.
MAJ WRIGHT: Yes.
MAJ WRIGHT: Okay, resuming. Your personal flow: how did you personally flow? With the Corps Main, as part of the Corps Main, or stuck in as an individual someplace in the flow?
MAJ BRUCKNER: I found out early on that most of the time you are never going to get guidance to that effect. I had thought early on that the [XVIII Airborne Corps] G-3, COL [Frank] Akers, was going to be able to coddle me and carry me along, but it became very obvious that when all the LNOs came and everyone was there, everyone was worried about, you know, a thousand things other than what their job was supposed to be, it became apparent that what you really needed to do is figure out when you needed to be at a certain place and when you no longer were necessary there [at Fort Bragg].
I tied my movement, without guidance, to the movement of my commander. I moved an ADVON [advance detachment] package to Saudi Arabia early with COL [John M.] LeMoyne (who later became the Chief of Staff and then the 1st Brigade Commander): eight people and some vehicles. Then around the 25th MG McCaffrey and his [G]-3 [LTC Patrick Lamar] and some ... and his staff moved by air from [Fort] Stewart, and after that eight C-141 package moved, I was really of no use. I was talking to nobody other than Lamar, (the G-3) or the CG, and so I left my NCO (non-commissioned officer) and a driver in Bragg, found a way to get to Saudi Arabia, which turned out to be with a [US Air Force] TACP [tactical air control party].
MAJ WRIGHT: And then you, once in Saudi Arabia, you report to Division, or do you go straight to DRAGON CITY to link with the Corps Main post there?
MAJ BRUCKNER: I went right to DRAGON CITY. It was more a function of the fact that is where the TACP was going. I went to Dragon City, reported in to where the LNO would be. There in fact was a 24th LNO there, MAJ Nick Johnson. I went there more out of life support than out of a sense of duty, and I started working there with Nick. And Nick later went down to become, I guess now he is the XO [Executive Officer]--DIVARTY [24th Infantry Division Artillery] XO or DIVARTY [S]-3, and I just stayed on as the LNO.
MAJ WRIGHT: So that put you at DRAGON CITY as one of the first LNOs to get there, with the other LNO still working back out of Ft. Bragg, trying to kick their divisions out?
MAJ BRUCKNER: [MAJ] Rick Harris (82d Airborne Division Liaison Officer to XVIII Airborne Corps) was. Yes, actually the 101st [Airborne Division Liaison Officer team to XVIII Airborne Corps], they went back to Campbell to get ... you know, to say goodbye to their families and pick up weapons and stuff like that. Harris, of course, the 82d LNO, he was there at Bragg, and so that was not as much of a problem for him. So a lot of the LNOs deployed as a group with the Main CP command group; tied their movement to LTG Luck and COL Akers. Well, actually I don't know if it was COL Akers, now that I think about it, but they moved over in a package together, but I just didn't for some reason. I don't know why.
MAJ WRIGHT: You get over to DRAGON CITY; you get established in the converted NCO or officer club there. You have access within the TOC [tactical operations center] pretty much comparable to what you had back at Ft. Bragg?
MAJ BRUCKNER: No, it was an entirely new function. I was just a face: zero credibility, didn't know anybody in the Corps Headquarters. COL [Zannie O.] Smith was in charge. I didn't really have good commo [communications] with anybody. Kind of a screwed up situation, because none of our commo packages had deployed, had gotten off the boat yet, so it was really ... we were reliant on very minimal comms. So it was kind of ... getting a vehicle and being able to move to and from the port, which is where the [24th Infantry Division] Command Group initially set up, was the initial breakthrough that we had made. And then once we started being able to actually communicate, which obviously is the key to the LNO business, then we became more of, you know, an LNO office that was actually functioning.
MAJ WRIGHT: You talk about having had an NCO and a driver back at Bragg. Did they ... did you deploy alone initially to Bragg, or did you bring a team with you?
MAJ BRUCKNER: Deployed alone. I deployed alone, and on meeting MG McCaffrey at the airport one night, he figured out that I was up there alone, working whatever hours, basically whatever needed to be done. He then quickly moved an NCO and a driver up and a vehicle, to Bragg, SSG Arnett being the NCO who has remained with me ...
MAJ WRIGHT: Is he a Staff Sergeant?
MAJ BRUCKNER: SSG Arnett.
MAJ WRIGHT: First name?
MAJ BRUCKNER: Carroll. And we did have a driver. Then it was SPC Howard. They were at this time, though, back at Bragg and they had to be deployed. Getting them into the flow, you know, that was not an easy process. Getting them through Green Ramp, that was done by COL [Julius] Coats [XVIII Airborne Corps Director of Operations].
MAJ WRIGHT: As you get over and you start getting functional at DRAGON CITY, SSG Arnett joins you and you gradually build up some other personnel as well, correct?
MAJ BRUCKNER: Yes. The Division, when it came in, it was in ... unlike Dhahran, which is a little bit inland, the port obviously is right on the water, and it is way out on a finger that is about 12 kilometers into the middle of the Persian Gulf. The humidity out there is absolutely ... probably 90 percent the entire time. The difference is a lot worse than--you know, it is still 120 degrees but it was 90 percent humidity, so the initial decision that the CG made was that they needed to get out of there, but not just out of there. They needed to get out into the desert, to get away from the humidity and acclimate to the desert environment that they would have to fight in.
So they literally moved 200 kilometers out into the desert on their first move. When HETs [heavy equipment transporters] were made available, they moved from the port by divisions [i.e., brigades] to the field. And there we were, sitting, you know, a great distance away from the Division proper, which meant that there were a lot of things that were going on back at Dammam. For example, supply point distribution throughout the entire DESERT SHIELD phase of the operation was almost ... that was just a reality we had to live with.
That is where the hospitals were. That is where the POL [petroleum, oil and lubricants] was. That is where we picked up our fuel, our food, our Class I ... all of our classes of supplies, and it wasn't because of any other reason than the fact that COSCOM [1st Support Command (Corps)] wasn't here yet. COSCOM wasn't fully deployed until much later. That was a decision that was made early on, a decision that ... in hindsight we would probably have to second guess that decision. And we obviously did differently when we deployed from DESERT SHIELD to DESERT STORM, and obviously it has worked much better. I don't know if it is obvious, but it worked much better in my opinion.
In that light, going back to the LNO team, because the hospitals, all of the supply and logistic facilities were back in the Dammam/Dhahran area, we kept an LNO team that had a functional area expert in the [G]-4 area, the [G]-2 area, I being [the expert] in the [G]-3 area.
And then we kept people that were patient affairs folks. We had a lot of people that transitioned through hospitals for everything from car accidents to heat strokes, heat injuries. And maintaining status on where they were in one of the many hospitals, and sometimes it was as many as 8 and 12 different hospitals, visiting them every day and making sure that somebody got them paid and got them their mail and somebody cared about them, was very, very important to MG McCaffrey for many personal reasons. He was at one time reported missing in action, actually I think killed in action. Actually a guy in a green suit walked up to his wife and told her, when he was in Vietnam, wounded in Vietnam, you know, told her that he was dead, and here he was perfectly--well, he had been shot up, almost lost his right arm, from what I understand--but he was on a hospital ship or a Navy warship. And he just didn't want that to happen to any of his soldiers, and so he had an E-8, a First Sergeant, he actually took a successful First Sergeant that was due to rotate out of his command, of his company, took that guy, 1SG Burns, a lieutenant from [the] Medical Service [Corps], and then eventually even all the reenlistment NCOs, and made a team that visited every soldier in the 24th Infantry Division, and it later became everybody in the XVIII Airborne Corps, on a day-to-day basis, and that team worked out of the office as well.
MAJ WRIGHT: So that's ... that is not a doctrinal thing but something that worked out because of circumstance, that it was just because of the great distances, that that was the logical place to park them?
MAJ BRUCKNER: It was, yes. They had to be back in that area. Again, the key to why they were at DRAGON CITY with the Corps CP was that they were tied to the phones that tied our division with DRAGON CITY. You know, there just aren't a lot of [communications] nodes, so the 50 node which is at DRAGON CITY is what they had to use. And so if they had to use that, then they might as well live there. So that was the rationale we used.
MAJ WRIGHT: As the Corps matures, gets built up, and you start moving from the defensive scheme which is DESERT SHIELD towards developing the offensive plan that will become DESERT STORM, what role do you play in that process in terms of representing your division on a day-to-day basis with the planners?
MAJ BRUCKNER: I find that over time ... in the early stages of the deployment phase I felt as though I was part of the Plans team of XVIII Airborne Corps. As time progressed, I have progressed much farther away from that planning. At the time that offensive planning was actually started, in the initiation, the initiating phase, that was all compartmentalized and many, many people were not read on. In fact, most people were not read on.
And so, because of that, that was where there became an information lag because there was much information that was not ... that we did not have access to. And so at that time there kind of became a rift between the planners that were read on and the people of Corps staff that were not. And that has, to an extent, lived on to this very day. There is still a kind of a rift in the Corps staff: those that know and those who do not know.
MAJ WRIGHT: You had planners, then, back at Division that were read on, and before you were, and therefore they started showing up to do conferences or ... ?
MAJ BRUCKNER: Well, see, that was the odd thing about it. I am not sure when guys like our [MAJ] Dave App--our planners--were read on, but I think shortly thereafter I was read on to our Division's plan or to the entire plan, however one is going to do it, but that didn't count. I wasn't read on from the stand ... I mean, Corps didn't acknowledge that, so I knew what information, what needed to happen, but I wasn't given access to the Corps action. And I think much of that was a function of ... how do I want to say this ... the planners wanted to put out a plan and they wanted to have as little changes, as few changes from specifically the 24th Infantry Division as possible. So by, in my opinion, limiting access to the LNOs to an unfinished product, decreased their ...
MAJ WRIGHT: The possibility ..
MAJ BRUCKNER: ... the problems in the interim. Until they had what they felt was a finished product ...
[END OF SIDE ONE]
MAJ WRIGHT: Okay, resuming on Side two.
With the development of the plan,3 and when you get read on, there is some pressure on you because 24th Infantry Division is to be the main effort of the Corps attack and has the status of being the only heavy force other than the 3d ACR [Armored Cavalry regiment] within the Corps that is going to have to take on the task of engaging the RGFC if the plan goes to Phase IV [i.e., Phase IIID]. Does this cause any difference in your work load?
MAJ BRUCKNER: Again, a lot of the ... I have said this several different times, but I think that the planners again wanted to have minimal ... they wanted to write an authoritative document that said, "Divisions (all divisions, all MSCs [major subordinate commands]), this is what you will do, and this is how you will do it, and this is when you will do it."
The unfortunate fact of the matter is ... is that the Corps Commander is holding a coalition together of the Corps with the French, with some very, very powerful egos and very competent individuals, and he is not ... he is a participative manager, a very, very shrewd operator. He is the type of individual that will solicit input, some people would even say to a fault.
But the product, the end product that he has in the DESERT STORM op[erations] plan, is a result of huge arguments and battering around between division commanders saying, "This is the best way." You end up with a product that is literally a piece of work, just a piece of art. But it was a very emotional process to get to.
So the planners never, ever changed their style of planning to meet the style of their commander. Had they ... had it been me, and this is purely my opinion, I would have been forced in their stead to go out to the divisions and sell the divisions on a concept, or come back with their concept, meld them all together before they went to press.
Great distances, limited transportation assets, and just inertia did not allow for that process. And so therefore it became, "Here is a bone; chew on it." And every time something came out from the Plans shop, it wasn't so much my work load, it was a matter of me getting that to the Division and then waiting for MG [J. H. Binford] Peay, [III; Commanding General, 101st Airborne Division] and MG [James H.] Johnson [Commanding General, 82d Airborne Division] and MG McCaffrey to come back in and drive home their points in saying, "We can't do this. This is not a good mission for 101st. This is what we need to be doing, in my opinion."
And so it is a very, very emotional process, and I think that through the entire process it was handled professionally. Really a work of art, I think, on LTG Luck's standpoint, to force that type of emotional issues to a head and then resolving them in the most--in what makes the most sense.
MAJ WRIGHT: We kick off and depart from Rafha--correction, from DRAGON CITY--and move up to Rafha in late January, the tail end of January. Do you move with the Main CP by convoy or do you come up in the air movement?
MAJ BRUCKNER: I again tried to be the first one on the ground by moving by air. In hindsight [I] probably did not allow my NCO to do his NCO business, but that--and, again, I had a very competent E-6 in SGT Arnett who could have done a lot of the housekeeping things, set up shop--but I moved up first.
MAJ WRIGHT: As the operation actually unfolds with G-Day on February 24th of 91, what is your function during the actual combat operations as the LNO?
MAJ BRUCKNER: My function throughout, from day one, was to prepare a report that functioned around the nightly briefings, all the information that was coming out of
Corps--sometimes it was as long as a 20-page document--doing that every night, and it continued straight up through the war. It continued. There was a small break when comms were down between the, let's say the two days after the end of the war, the cease-fire; and during the redeployment phase there were about three days. I was sent to Riyadh for a short period of time in there. But every day for I don't know how many days ...
MAJ WRIGHT: Two hundred-plus days?
MAJ BRUCKNER: ... 200-plus days, I submitted a document called "Commander's Notes" which everyone, I think, every copy ... you have a copy of with maybe, you know, one or two exceptions.4 That document is just ... it goes with intel[ligence], current operations, logistics, and LNO notes (which have to do with perceptions about what is going on, what is not going on, what needs to go on, what does the Division Commander need too know or we need to be working on).
MAJ WRIGHT: And this is addressed to the Division Commander?
MAJ BRUCKNER: The first thing he reads every morning, or so I am told, he reads that. I know that because if it is not there, I get a phone call, so it is ... and, you know, I don't want to make it seem that this is a great historical document that I write. It is ... the intelligence portion is almost a verbatim transcript of the G-2 briefing at shift changes, which is written by a [CPT] Chris Vlahos [XVIII Airborne Corps G-2 Current Operations Section]. The operations is the significant events that is briefed by the G-3, Wilt Ham, MAJ Wilt Ham. The logistics comes from notes from COL Biamon's meeting, which CPT Henry or the G-4 representative gets. LNO notes come straight from me, and they have to do more with perceptions and ideas about what is going on and what needs to go on, or who is mad and whom, and things of that nature, than anything else.
MAJ WRIGHT: You also pick up, then, other information that can be passed down to the Division. You become an alternate source of communications for the Corps staff to send things?
MAJ BRUCKNER: As a matter of fact, what I try to do is, I would read ... there is just a wealth of information around here. The reading file I read every morning, and would pick off the information and give them a "heads up," saying, "There is a FRAGO [fragementary order] such-and-such coming down that says generally this, and this is how it pertains to the Division." You know, so that was a "heads up," and I am sure that the [reaction at the] other end was "Get me FRAGO 44."
Serious incident reports and how they impacted, like "MSR DODGE [the Trans-Arabian Pipeline Road] is in terrible shape, and we have killed more people there." Significant things of that nature. The reading file. There are several meetings that go on during the day. The Commanders' Update that used to be at 1630. Anytime LTG Luck said anything, it was written down, with quotes.
MAJ WRIGHT: The Battle Management Conference [BMC] each morning, things like that?
MAJ BRUCKNER: BMC. And we attended, I think ... you know, we attended a shift change in the morning; a meeting with the G-4 early in the morning; a BMC at 8:30; sometimes a meeting throughout the day; always a 1630 Commanders' Update; always a shift change in the evening; always a 2000 hours briefing at the G-4. So that was like five or six meetings that we attended daily, plus reading the reading file. There was plenty of information there, so you just had to pick and choose; given what you felt were the significant events.
MAJ WRIGHT: How do you pass this information? You have alluded a couple of times to communications problems. How do you eventually resolve those?
MAJ BRUCKNER: Communications, that is all you are here for, to communicate. And we initially communicated by phone, you know, verbal. LNO notes would then be transported by courier in the early stages, which was fine when they were at the port. When they moved out 200 kilometers into the desert, that was ... didn't make sense. Then we started using a machine called a Tac Fax [tactical facsimilie], which operates over phone lines. It takes about seven minutes per page, and it is a good ... it is good because it works on very low quality lines, which we had very often. It is slow, and it is really designed for graphics, handwritten messages, and so forth.
Later, it quickly became apparent as we progressed that we needed a more efficient way to pass data, and so I went to [the] Corps Signal [Office]. We got a laptop that had a modem. We got ... we obtained software from Corps Signal, MAJ Tilly. I got trained up on how to use a modem. I then passed the software physically down by a courier, and then walked somebody through at the other end on how to install and work laptop transfers.
And we have gotten to the point, for the last four or five months, where we have transmitted ... we have taken orders hot off the press, slammed them into the computer and passed 40 to 50-page documents, Zipped them (which means compressed them), and sent them over the air. A very, very efficient way to do that.
MAJ WRIGHT: You also told me at other times that you have been able to use that technique to transmit the Air Force SPINs for the air targeting?
MAJ BRUCKNER: Exactly. In fact, that is what really prompted ... we could have lived, passing out the data over the Tac Fax, very inefficient. You figure if you have got a seven-page document at seven minutes, it takes an hour [or] 49 minutes to pass that document. The question obviously came to mind is that "Will we have access to a phone line when we move from DRAGON CITY," which is obviously not the place where we are going to fight that battle. The question came back, obviously we will not. So we had to find an alternative means.
The SPIN, which is a daily air tasking order and a weekly air tasking order, also needed to get out there, and we originally were flying those out by helicopter. So that was another thing that we would throw this into the modem. So now we pass every night the air tasking order, any FRAGOs that were on disk, our Commander's Notes, and anything that we would pass back and forth. We actually passed a manifest for the Glory Brigade, which are the people that were redeploying first. So in a way it was a two-way process.
MAJ WRIGHT: As you think back on your experience here, there is an officer status which is something that is not really terribly worked out in doctrine, it is not the kind of thing that you can go find in a line item on a TO&E [Table of Organization and Equipment]. What kinds of survival things did you pick up on? Little techniques and clues that might be of use to somebody in the future that is put in a similar position?
MAJ BRUCKNER: Well, it seems like only yesterday when I found out I was going to be an LNO--looking into manuals, finding out what an LNO does, what he is expected to do. It is not covered in doctrine and it is not ... as a matter of fact, if you will look, the things that it does say in doctrine is that communications from higher to lower, left to right, top to bottom, and so forth and so on, it almost implied that LNOs would come from Corps down to Division, versus the other way around.
So I really had no idea. I knew that I would have to be able to communicate with Corps ... [correction] with Division. I quickly got a laptop. I ... you need equipment, none of which is authorized in the TO&E. You need transportation. You need ... you really, when you come to a headquarters, you need to prepare to be totally self-sufficient, and that was ... I mean, the closer you get to that mind set, I found, the better off you are going to be.
It may be that they give you a room; it may be that they give you a cot; it may be that they give you food and water. But if you have that, you are ahead of the game. You know, there are times when there was no water, or the water was not potable. There were times that I had 14 five-gallon cans of water that we lived off of out here at Rafha for a while until the water was potable or until the water buffalos started getting filled.
Transportation, transportation maintenance, maintaining vehicles that you had and the equipment that you had was a real problem. There is no way to bring a maintenance team; there is no way to do those things.
It really becomes a tremendous burden on the headquarters that you come to, and I guess the key to it is trying to decrease that burden as much as possible so that the times that you do need assistance, that it is given open-handedly and gladly.
MAJ WRIGHT: One of the things that strikes me, from what you have described, is that being an LNO is very much a personality-driven thing. You don't have authority. It depends a lot on building some solid personal relationships. How do you go about doing that, in your particular case?
MAJ BRUCKNER: I guess from a professional standpoint is that you simply look at a mission--and it is not your mission, it is the Corps Commander's and the Division Commander's mission--and you figure out what it is that you can do to help the Corps Headquarters that you are working at [to] do that mission and become an aid to the process of communicating so that when ... a perfect example is, when commo is down. The entire Corps staff knows that they can come to me and that at least once a night I am going to prepare a document that is going to get to my Division. And that if they need to, for example, transfer a Fox [XM-93 Chemical Reconnaissance] vehicle and it is a short notice thing, they know that within 24 hours at least they [the Division] will know that there is a problem that they have to do. So, therefore, you become an aid, where they know that information is being passed and they have that sense of confidence.
I think also it is important to not place yourself in the middle between staffs. There is just entirely too much information to be responsible for. You have got--I don't know how many--I think a 2,000-man staff here. There is no way that one person or even a group of people can be responsible for communicating all that information down to a Division. And if that was possible, I am not sure it is possible for one individual to read a document and to assimilate all that. So you need to be perceived as an aid to communication.
MAJ WRIGHT: Also, just from observing, you seem to rely fairly heavily on a sense of humor to keep things from building up and to eliminate friction.
MAJ BRUCKNER: Its ... a lot of the things that go on here, there is a lot of tension around here ... shit, we're at war ... and prior to that, the build-up to war was probably worse than the actual ... it was much worse than the actual war itself. Along with that, the personalities involved, maintaining perspective on the entire Operation DESERT SHIELD and on DESERT STORM and all that, is very important not only personally to me, but I thought--I think--very personally to everybody. As you know, I have worked with the Corps Headquarters here now 200-plus days and I have worked in 24th Infantry Division one day, so the hardest thing I had to do is to try not to choose sides, try to maintain loyalty to everyone--to LTG Luck, to COL Akers, but most of all to MG McCaffrey, who wasn't here to represent himself, and who is a very authoritative and sometimes an abrasive individual who forces people to do their job, whether they want to or not. And that is obviously distasteful, I thought, the third time around, and I would say this 200 days here was probably about 200 times.
MAJ WRIGHT: Anything else that strikes you as a learning experience for you that you can take from being an LNO and apply in the future as you move on to other assignments?
MAJ BRUCKNER: The entire deployment. You know, seeing a war, seeing a war of this magnitude from this perspective is invaluable. I mean, I saw it from a Division Commander, a Corps Commander's, a Corps Operations standpoint. I was able to go down to the MAPEXs [map exercises], to watch every commander go through the MAPEX--what he was going to do phase-by-phase--tremendously valuable from a war fighter's standpoint.
And I guess you get out of anything as much as you put into it. Seeing the politics that go on, understanding the problems that National Command Authority has which are totally above and beyond that which is ... fighting the war was easy, compared to trying to hold an allied force, a multinational force together that ... you know, an Arab coalition, most of which weren't really entirely too friendly to the United States prior to this operation.
Watching the after-war analysis; getting to sit in on conferences with the Hon. Mr. [Michael P. W.] Stone [the Secretary of the Army] and the Chief of Staff of the Army [GEN Carl Vuono] and GEN [Colin] Powell [Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff]; sitting there and listening to what they think is important and why they think it is important--invaluable. Getting to hear lectures from guys like GEN--Retired LTG (USMC) Trainor and Dr. Campbell,5 tremendously insightful events, much of which ... you know, those type of documents were almost ... I prepared verbatim transcripts. I say verbatim; as much as I could verbatim. One of the things, you know, I do have a pretty good memory so they were pretty accurate--you know, I went back to the tape.
But I mean just really good ... a good overall view of the entire operation.
MAJ WRIGHT: Sort of a post-graduate Command and General Staff [College] course?
MAJ BRUCKNER: I have no idea. I mean, I went to CGSC, and it wasn't anything like this. It was really, when you spend ... I spent seven years, I spent a lot of time at Division and below and know ... I have been a battalion [S]-3 for two years ... I know how to fight a infantry battalion and an armored battalion, and I know the tactical level of war fighting. I know that fairly well, through platoon leader, through company commander, through division training, running a TAC CP.
Operational art, the operational aspects of war, were totally foreign to me, and I am now experiencing them, and that is the way I learn. You know, that is tremendously important.
But seeing a strategic war being fought, and this is a really good example, if we continue exposure to this, has been a remarkable study on war fighting. How everything was melded together: from the media to the political, the politicians; to the patriotism, the backing. It was melded together extremely well. To watch that real time: CNN [Cable News Network]; news reports; Joint Chiefs of Staff briefings; every night seeing LTG [Tom] Kelly--seeing them initially back at DRAGON CITY and hearing them out here. You know, everyone has a much greater depth of knowledge about the spectrum of war fighting as a result of this. And being on the inside when it was going on was, you know, it was incredible.
MAJ WRIGHT: Anything else you can think of?
MAJ BRUCKNER: No. I think that we are going to see some tremendous changes in the Army in the future, and we are going to see those--they are going to be driven by dollars, by decreased threat or changing threats--and all of them are going to lead to a position where we are going to have a headquarters commanding some type of force.
The greatest thing in the world is TAC SAT [tactical satellite] communication. Every LNO should deploy with it. Everyone should have access to it. Everyone should not allow their TAC SAT communication to their boss to be pushed off the bird. We operated over extended distances and TAC SAT, single-channel TAC SAT, would have worked tremendously well, had we had enough birds and enough tactical satellite communications. Within the entire division, 24th Infantry Division, we had nine sets. The 82d I think had like probably ten times as many, but that was just not a reality. We had to work over alternate channels or means, and you just can't work at those extended ranges.
I think each unit needs to look at the TO&E structure, of what an LNO should have. We shouldn't allow the Army TO&E structure to take that away. That should be--you know, at the expense of--well, you know, I am in an ADA vehicle, in a rental vehicle, so there is somebody out there in the ADA community that doesn't have a vehicle. We shouldn't allow that to happen to us.
You know, I think that we are right on the verge. Our generation is kind of caught in between those who grew up using computers and the generation above us where calculators were just coming out on the market. We are in the middle of that. We really have a great deal of responsibility of using the computer technology to do what it is capable of doing, to identify a problem and solve the problem with current technology, which puts a great deal of responsibility on the backs of the majors and captains that are coming up through the ranks right now, because they are the ones that see the problem. But knowing that there is such a thing as a modem, knowing that there is laptop transfer capability over existing phone lines, that is a responsibility that everyone needs to be able to ... you put something in your toolbox to identify and solve the problem. There are a thousand different things that we could have worked on, that could have been better as a result of simple computerized functions. To be faxing a document back to the United States is ridiculous. Modem transfer is ideal. And then we have tremendously increased capability. We need to exercise that on a day-to-day basis within the Corps, you know, and once you start doing this, then you realize that there is a requirement for standardization and so forth. You know, [Fort] Campbell can't be working off of ...
MAJ WRIGHT: ... MultiMate while somebody else is using WordPerfect ...
MAJ BRUCKNER: Or Apple-compatible versus IBM-compatible. I think that that is where we need to not fall back. When we go to Bragg, we need to build on what we have accomplished over here. We have got it so that it all SPINs and all divisions can now receive laptop transfers, and we need to get away from the archaic phones and facsimiles. It is not letter quality. It is not--you know, nine chances out of ten they are not even readable. You can transfer 100 times as much data, information, ten times as fast, with much more clarity, much more resolution. I think that that is what, from a communicator's standpoint, which is what an LNO is, we need to build on.
And other than that, I guess that is about it.
MAJ WRIGHT: The only other thing I can think to ask you is, how did it feel, in what is traditionally the light Corps, the Contingency Corps, to be seen as a representative of heavy force?
MAJ BRUCKNER: I think what you have seen--what I didn't really understand when I got here--everyone knows the 82d and the XVIII Airborne: tremendous pride, a tremendous reputation. Most of our generation has seen the only wars fought by them. I came into the Army after the Vietnam era, and so most of my year group that is wearing a combat patch is an XVIII Airborne guy that went into either Grenada or Panama, so those are the elite. There is no way to refute that. The fact that in CGSC that not anybody can go ...
[END OF INTERVIEW]
1. The secure planning area in XVIII Airborne Corps Headquarters at Fort Bragg is located on the third floor, and contains the planning sections for all of the principal staff sections. During August of 1990 it was also used to house work space for the liaison officers sent to Corps.