101st “Screaming Eagles” en route to Gulf
CNN reported this morning that the 101st Airborne Division, the “Screaming Eagles,” got the order to pack it up and head to the Persian Gulf.
Based in Fort Campbell, Ky., the 101st is the Army’s air assault division, comprised of 20,000 troops and 300 AH-64 Apache attack helicopters. It’s capable of operating on its own up to 150 km inside enemy territory. The 101st will probably be some of the first troops to enter Iraq, reprising a role they performed in Desert Storm when they fired some of the the first shots in the 1991 offensive. They can be expected to drop in on oil fields and suspected chemical or biological weapons sites.
Considered one of the finest military units in the the world — they were among the first troops to hit the ground at Normandy in 1944 — the 101st will also be joined in the deployment by the aircraft carrier, the USS Kittyhawk, from Japan, bringing the total number of carriers in the region to five. The addition of the Kittyhawk brings the Navy’s firepower up to 250 fighter aircraft in the Gulf.
The deployment of the 101st should convince anyone still doubting the determination of the Bush administration to remove Saddam Hussein by force that this will happen and it will happen soon. I stand by my latest prediction of March 1 as the start of hostilities.