Task and Purpose thinks Donald Trump made a good National Security Adviser appointment.
Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster earned his reputation for being an incredible military officer not in the Pentagon or inside the D.C. beltway, but in one of the fiercest tank battles in military history. In 1991, McMaster was a 28-year-old Army captain, and commander of a small section called Eagle Troop, Second Squadron, Second Armored Cavalry Regiment.
McMaster found himself in Iraq during the Gulf War to intervene against then-Iraqi dictator Saddam Husseinâ€™s incursion on Kuwait. In one of the key resulting battles, the Battle of 73 Easting, McMaster would emerge a legend and a war hero.
It was Feb. 26, 1991. McMasterâ€™s regiment was tasked with serving as the forward covering element of the VII Corps as it advanced into Iraq. But McMasterâ€™s small unit ran up against a much larger brigade of the Iraqi Republican Guardâ€™s Tawakalna Division and elements of its 10th Armored Division. That enemy unit was commanded by a man McMaster refers to in his writing only as â€œMajor Mohammed.â€
An Iraqi Type 69 main battle tank burns after an attack by the 1st United Kingdom Armored Division during Operation Desert Storm.
Mohammed was an experienced combat officer, who had been trained in the United States and was a graduate of the Armyâ€™s demanding Infantry Officer Advanced Course at Fort Benning, Georgia, according to a profile of the battle McMaster wrote in the online war journal the Strategy Bridge.
â€œMohammedâ€™s defense was fundamentally sound. He took advantage of an imperceptible rise in the terrain that ran perpendicular to the road and directly through the village to organize a reverse slope defense on the east side of that ridge. He anticipated that upon encountering his strong point at the village, we would bypass it either to the north or south,â€ McMaster wrote. â€œHe built two engagement areas or kill sacks on the eastern side of the ridge to the north and the south of the village, emplaced minefields to disrupt forward movement, and dug in approximately forty tanks and sixteen BMPs about one thousand meters from the ridge. His plan was to engage and destroy us piecemeal as we moved over the crest.â€
McMasterâ€™s unit was much smaller, comprising nine M1A1 Abrams tanks, 12 M3A2 Bradley fighting vehicles, a small number of support vehicles, and a total of 140 soldiers. They wiped out Mohammedâ€™s forces in 23 minutes, destroying roughly 30 tanks, 20 personnel carriers, and 30 trucks in what would be called the last great tank battle of the 20th century. …
McMaster wrote an in-depth account of how he pulled off the devastating victory soon after he redeployed to the United States in 1991. He wanted to create a bit of a manual on effective tank warfare that he felt he lacked as a young commander, as well as create a written account of Eagle Troopâ€™s exploits for the American public.