Battle of Khafji

Battle of Khafji

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Battle of Khafji
partof=the Gulf War

caption=Military operations during liberation of Khafji.
date=January 29 - February 1, 1991
place=Khafji, Saudi Arabia
result=Decisive Coalition victory
combatant1=flagicon|Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia,
flagicon|USA United States,
flagicon|Qatar Qatar [ [ The Epic Little Battle of Khafji ] ]
combatant2= flagicon|Iraq|1991 Iraq
commander1=flagicon|Saudi Arabia Sultan Al-Mutairi cite news |url= |title=Joint-Forces-Command-East -]
commander2=flagicon|Iraq|1991 Salah Abud Mahmud cite news |url= |title=Battle of Khafji -]
casualties1=36 dead,
32 wounded,
casualties2=2000+ dead,
400 POWTitus, James. " [ The Battle of Khafji: An Overview and Preliminary Analysis] ". 1996.]

The Battle of Khafji was the first major ground engagement of the Gulf War. It took place in the Saudi Arabian city of Khafji, from January 29 to February 1, 1991.

The battle began when Iraqi troops unexpectedly invaded Khafji. Forces from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, backed by American artillery and air strikes, evicted Iraqi troops and tanks, and freed two trapped U.S. Marine reconnaissance teams.


Order of Battle

Iraqi Forces

Coalition Forces


The Iraqi advance caught the U.S.-led Coalition almost completely by surprise, and the initial hours of the battle were marked by confusion and disarray on the Coalition side. Numerous U.S. Marine and Special Forces positions along the Kuwait-Saudi Arabian border were overrun by the Iraqi forces, and the city of Khafji, which had been largely abandoned by the Coalition, fell with little resistance.

By taking Khafji, the Iraqis trapped (but did not capture) two U.S. Marine reconnaissance teams of the U.S. 3rd Marine Regiment inside the town. Corporal Lawrence Lentz led one team with Corporal Chuck Ingraham leading the other. The presence of the Marine teams complicated the recapture effort, although the two teams reported on Iraqi activities inside the town and directed numerous effective artillery and airstrikes on the occupying Iraqis.The capture of Khafji infuriated the Saudis, who dispatched a national guard unit. The Iraqis repulsed the attack, and the Saudis kept adding mechanized and marine units under American air support. Another Iraqi armored column met Saudi and Qatari armor, and the Qatari tanks shot up the Iraqi column and stopped it dead in its tracks. An amphibious Iraqi landing force was sent in boats, its objective was to land at Khafji and support the Iraqi units fighting inside the city. American and British naval aircraft destroyed the amphibious force. After house-to house fighting, the American, Saudi, and Qatari forces retook the town. The Iraqis lost more than 2000 killed in Al-Khafji, while the Americans lost 26 dead, 14 to Iraqi fire. The Saudis and Qataris lost 10 dead.The ill-fated Iraqi foray into Khafji is believed to have been ordered to forestall the coming Coalition attack on Iraqi positions in Kuwait and to test Coalition strength. Many observers saw the Iraqi Army, and especially its Republican Guard units, as the best military force in the Gulf region, after its performance in the Iran–Iraq War and the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Observers also had doubts about how the U.S. military would perform, after not having been seriously tested since the Vietnam War almost 20 years earlier.

The success of the Marines at Khafji was seen as proof that the Iraqi war machine had been vastly overrated, and it led Coalition commanders to change their offensive plans to allow for large-scale prisoner collection. As one U.S. veteran of the battle put it, "Get in the first shot at [an Iraqi soldier] and the rest will run away." The battle was the deadliest and most intense firefight that U.S. forces had seen since the Vietnam War. Some Gulf War veterans point to Khafji as an engagement that refutes the commonly-held notion that the war was a push-button, video game-like enterprise. It was the largest military engagement on Saudi Arabian soil since that nation gained independence.

29 January

30 January

31 January – 1 February




*cite journal
last = Freedman
first = Lawrence
coauthors = Efraim Karsh
title = How Kuwait Was Won: Strategy in the Gulf War
journal = International Security
volume = 16
issue = 2
pages = 5–41
publisher = The MIT Press
date = Autumn 1991
accessdate = 2008-10-10

*cite journal
last = Mahnken
first = Thomas G.
coauthors = Barry D. Watts
title = What the Gulf War Can (and Cannot) Tell Us about the Future of Warfare
journal = International Security
volume = 22
issue = 2
pages = 151–162
publisher = The MIT Press
date = Autumn 1997
accessdate = 2008-10-10

*cite journal
last = Press
first = Daryl G.
title = The Myth of Air Power in the Persian Gulf War and the Future of Warfare
journal = International Security
volume = 26
issue = 2
pages = 4–44
publisher = The MIT Press
date = Autumn 2001
accessdate = 2008-10-10

*cite paper
first = James
last = Titus
title = The Battle of Khafji: An Overview and Preliminary Analysis
publisher = College of Aerospace Doctrine, Research and Education Air University
date = September 1996
accessdate = 2008-10-10

*cite book
last = Westermeyer
first = Paul W.
title = U.S. Marines in Battle: Al-Khafji, 28 January – 1 February 1991
publisher = History Division, U.S. Marine Corps
location = Washington D.C., United States of America

*cite paper
first = Scott
last = Williams
title = The Battle of Al-Khafji
publisher = Naval Postgraduate School
date = June 2002
accessdate = 2008-10-10

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