The untold story of the world’s fiercest tank battle (2023)

ByBill Newcott

Published February 24, 2021

15 min read

The most pitched tank battle in the history of warfare was fought not against the Nazis in Europe or North Africa—but just 30 years ago, in the desert of Iraq.

Operation Desert Sabre, the four-day ground offensive of the six-week military operation known as Desert Storm, involved a fierce tank-against-tank campaign that outstripped even World War II’s savage battle of Kursk, which saw some 6,000 German and Soviet tanks battle over a grueling six-week period.

“Kursk was bigger if you consider the entire campaign,” says retired colonel and historian Gregory Fontenot, who commanded a tank battalion in what was perhaps Desert Storm’s most intense few hours—an overnight free-for-all that participants later called Fright Night.

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“But no battle ever occurred—before or since Desert Storm—in which more than 3,000 tanks, plus thousands more armored vehicles, fought in the course of not quite 36 hours.”

In three epic encounters—dubbed 73 Easting, Medina Ridge, and Fright Night (officially known as the Battle of Norfolk)—armored behemoths from both sides relentlessly went muzzle-to-muzzle, turning the sprawling desert into history’s most concentrated tank shooting gallery.

For the millions of Americans who stayed glued to their TVs in late February 1991, the news coming from Kuwait was unrelentingly triumphant. Allied troops were thoroughly trouncing the forces of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, overrunning their positions and chasing them out of Kuwait, the small, oil-rich country Hussein’s army had invaded the previous August.

News reports showed fleets of allied tanks roaring across the desert like a stampede of buffalo, routing Iraq’s Russian-made tanks, blasting them into plumes of fire and smoke. Swarms of Iraqi soldiers were reportedly surrendering without a fight. Grim images of burned Iraqi corpses, their charred hands curled in death, seemed to serve as object lessons in the perils of challenging the might of the world’s “good guys.”

When it was all over, less than a hundred hours after the final offensive started, those of us watching TV heard the casualty reports: 292 coalition troops killed, compared to tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers. Sitting there on our comfy couches, we looked at each other and said, “Well, that was easy.”

Only it wasn’t easy.

From the moment Iraq invaded its smaller neighbor to the south on August 1, 1990, an array of world nations condemned the action. Over the next few months, led by the United States, a massive military force from 35 nations was assembled in adjacent Saudi Arabia. Ostensibly, the military presence was aimed at keeping Iraq from invading Saudi Arabia. But it was no secret that, if Iraq persisted in occupying Kuwait, the coalition would act to push Iraq’s forces back across their own border.

“First of all, don’t ever say it was a hundred-hour war—that’s a disservice to the Air Force and other military personnel who began engaging with the Iraqis in January,” says Fontenot, sitting in the den of his home in Lansing, Kansas. Behind him hangs a painting of two U.S. tanks charging toward the viewer, “the way the Iraqis saw them.”

On January 17, 1991, the coalition began air strikes against Iraq, bombing missile bases and other military installations. Meanwhile, ground troops in Saudi Arabia trained for desert warfare while there were isolated skirmishes between the two sides along the Saudi border.

In mid-February, coalition forces seemed to be concentrating their attention on Kuwait City, the occupied nation’s seaport capital. As warships gathered offshore, the Iraqis became convinced the expected assault would focus on the coastline.

But while the Iraqis were preoccupied with Kuwait’s front porch, the coalition attacked through the back door: On February 24, one of the largest forces of tanks ever assembled—more than 3,000—plus thousands of armored support vehicles and infantry roared across the vast, lightly guarded Saudi-Iraqi border that stretched to the west. Commanding General Norman Schwarzkopf had devised a grand scheme he called the “left hook”: Coalition tanks would rush north into Iraq for a set distance, then turn abruptly to the east, pushing toward occupied Kuwait City and destroying all enemy resistance along the way.

‘Once a tanker, always a tanker’

Paul Sousa is gazing at a hulking M1A1 Abrams tank with the affection of a middle-age man reunited with his first car. The thing is 32 feet long and weighs nearly 68 tons, but to him it’s one sweet set of wheels.

(Video) 73 Easting: The Brutal Tank Battle Fought In A Violent Sandstorm | Greatest Tank Battles | Timeline

“This is my beast,” he smiles. “I was on these things for 18 years. For Desert Storm, I was in one for 100 hours straight—only came out to go to the bathroom, or help fuel, or hold a machine gun while the other guys fueled.”

Some 1,900 of these monsters were dispatched against the Iraqis in Desert Storm. The enemy had thousands of serviceable Soviet-era tanks, but nothing to match the firepower at the fingertips of Sousa, a gunner with the 1st Cavalry Division.

Modernized versions of the M1A1 are still stationed around the globe, but this particular one, sitting in a corner of the 67,000-square-foot American Heritage Museum in Stow, Massachusetts, is the only such tank on public display in the world.

Four soldiers manned the M1A1: a commander, a driver, a gunner, and a loader. These guys call themselves tankers. “Once a tanker, always a tanker,” they’re fond of saying. The commander sits up top, watching the surrounding terrain. The driver is out front, his head jutting from a hole just under the gun. To sit in the gunner’s seat, however, is to get a sense of having had a machine built around you. There’s not an inch of spare room; just an in-your-face array of equipment and ammunition.

“For me, the whole war was spent down there in the dark, looking through a periscope,” Sousa adds. “Kind of cooped up.”

Early on the morning of February 24, coalition forces secretly stretched some 300 miles along the Saudi-Iraqi border. Iraqi military officials had some suspicions, but did not act on them.

“I’ll tell you one thing—my mother had figured it out,” says Randy Richert, who served with the 1st Infantry Division. He’d trained as a tanker but found himself driving a colonel in and around moving tank formations in an unarmed Humvee, like a dolphin skipping around a pod of whales.

“My mom kept hearing on the news about all the other divisions that were amassing near Kuwait, to the east, but nothing about us. So she told her friends, ‘I think Randy’s out there in the desert somewhere.’”

Prior to Desert Storm, many of the Army’s tankers had spent the better part of a decade on M1A1s in Europe—training for the possibility of a Soviet invasion across the Iron Curtain.

“It was Cold War time,” recalls Paul Beaulieu, a gunner. “We were always on alert; always waiting for that Soviet invasion. I never dreamed I’d end up using that training somewhere in the desert, but I was ready.”

Walking around the American Heritage Museum’s M1A1, Beaulieu notes that the tank’s advanced suspension system gave it a surprisingly smooth ride, even on the roughest desert terrain. Pointing to a nearby 1960s vintage Sheridan M551 tank, which also saw service in Desert Storm, he adds, “Compared to riding in that tank over there, this is like a Cadillac.” Ironically, the Sheridan was actually built by Cadillac.

‘It was raining mud’

That first morning, the tanks, accompanied by infantry and other armored vehicles, plowed through Iraqi defenses—many of which had been nearly destroyed by earlier air attacks—as they made steady progress north.

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Utterly unprepared, tens of thousands of Iraqi infantry—most of whom were teens and young men pressed into service by Saddam—fought fiercely but were severely outgunned. Many surrendered when the tanks arrived in their camps. These were not Iraq’s most skilled fighters, however. They were mere cannon fodder set up in broad perimeters in front of Iraq’s much-feared Republican Guard.

At home in the U.S., viewers saw stock film footage of M1A1 tanks speeding across a dry, flat desert under brilliantly sunny skies. But those were training films. The actual weather in Iraq was dreadful: Rain pounded the desert for most of the offensive. Even worse, it was a sticky, oily rain—caused by precipitation mixing with the billowing smoke from Kuwait’s oil fields, which the Iraqis had set afire.

The invasion’s swift success surprised even Schwarzkopf, who ordered his troops to push on well ahead of schedule. The decision increased the coalition’s advantage, but took a toll on the already-fatigued troops.

“Sleep just didn’t happen,” says Richert. “The minute you stopped, you’d fall asleep. Maybe you’d get a 20-minute nap, and that would be it for the next eight hours.”

There were a number of tank-to-tank skirmishes in the first two days of the operation, but the armored war began in earnest on February 26 when the U.S. 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment and other units encountered Republican Guard tanks after they had made the eastward turn toward Kuwait. In one notable face-off, A Troop—led by future U.S. National Security Advisor Capt. H.R. McMaster—took a position above a dried-up river bed, and for four hours fought off wave after wave of Iraqi tanks.

Hours later, just a few miles away, the 1st Infantry Division and the 3rd Brigade of the 2nd Armored Division (also known as Hell on Wheels) got into a middle-of-the-night battle with more Republican Guard tanks—Fontenot’s Fright Night.

In the dark, in the rain, in the smoke, conditions could hardly have been worse. Tanks fired on each other without being certain which side they were on. Iraqi soldiers physically swarmed the coalition tanks, attempting to find holes through which they could aim their machine guns. The tankers responded by sealing their hatches while their comrades in nearby tanks literally peppered them with machine gun fire, killing the hangers-on. (More than 75 years later, the Battle of Iwo Jima still haunts this veteran.)

The sky was illuminated with tracers. As tanks passed low hills or depressions, Iraqi fighters jumped from hiding, aiming rocket-powered grenade launchers, trying to take the tanks out from behind. Only quick action from the tank’s machine gunners prevented disaster.

“Sometimes,” says Fontenot, “it would just be lines of tanks firing away at each other. It was 360-degree battle.”

Inevitably, in the confusion and the darkness, fatal accidents happened. In his book, The First Infantry Division and the U.S. Army Transformed: Road to Victory in Desert Storm, Fontenot relates the sickening moment when an errant armor-piercing round from an M1A1 destroyed a U.S. Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle, sending glitter-like sparkles skyward.

Fontenot specifically ordered his men not to shoot until they were absolutely certain it was an enemy in their sights. Still, he is haunted by what he calls the “fratricide” of that chaotic night. A combination of friendly and enemy fired killed six Americans and wounded 32.

“There were so many factors,” he says. “It was raining mud, for crying out loud. We had clouds and smoke that played tricks with visibility. Someone said visibility that night was like looking into a closet with sunglasses on.”

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Fatigue also played a role, Fontenot says. “The guys saw things that they expected to see, but they weren’t really there. If you see combat vehicles coming toward you, you’re going to do something, and it might not be the right thing.”

After Fright Night, there was one major tank battle left: a 40-minute slugfest at a place called Medina Ridge, involving some 3,000 vehicles, including 348 M1A1 tanks. It was the last stand for Iraq’s Republican Guard, and they put up their best fight of the short war. Still, the M1A1’s gun range was so superior to the Iraqis’ they could fire almost with impunity. Attack helicopters and A-10 anti-tank planes flew in to help mop up.

The victory at Medina Ridge was quick, decisive—and, for many of the Americans, traumatizing. (How PTSD went from ‘shell-shock’ to a recognized medical diagnosis.)

“I don’t think my wife needs to know what took place out here,” one tanker told the New York Times. “I do not want her to know that side of me.”

From breach to cease-fire, the battles of Desert Storm lasted a bit under a hundred hours. Between 25,000 and 50,000 Iraqi soldiers were killed and 80,000 captured. Of the 219 U.S. soldiers who died, 154 perished in battle, too many of them in friendly fire.

About 3,300 Iraqi tanks were destroyed in desert battles and by air attack. The coalition lost 31.

A somber place

The M1A1 at the American Heritage Museum is shiny and like new. It’s a Monday, the museum is closed, and the museum’s Hunter Chaney asks if I’d like to sit inside. The answer, of course, is yes.

I need a step ladder to mount the tank’s side—a young soldier would have clambered up there like a mountain goat. I slide into the tank’s dark interior, flip down the gunner’s spring-loaded seat, and get into position. Buttons and switches control the turret blower and the armed/safe status of the 120 mm main gun. A manufacturer’s plate informs me that the turret alone, perched just above my head, weighs 23.1 tons.

The last time I saw one of these things in person was in the months after Desert Storm, during a gala, triumphant parade on the streets of Washington, D.C.

But there’s no sense of triumph in here. It’s a somber place, made all the more subdued by the fact that a man died in the seat next to mine. After the Gulf War ended, this particular M1A1 remained in the Middle East, where it was put into service during the Iraq War. On August 3, 2006, while patrolling outside of Fallujah, the tank was struck by an improvised explosive device (IED). A hunk of shrapnel tore into the neck of the commander, a young father named George Ulloa.

In a video tribute playing on a loop near the tank, Ulloa’s tearful wife talks about his love for their three children, his love for his country.

Wars can be swift; wars can seem to go on forever. And depending on your perspective, even a hundred-hour war can feel like an eternity.

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How many tanks did us lose in Iraq War? ›

A total of 23 M1A1s were damaged or destroyed during the war. Of the nine Abrams tanks destroyed, seven were destroyed by friendly fire and two intentionally destroyed to prevent capture by the Iraqi Army. Some others took minor combat damage, with little effect on their operational readiness.

How many Abrams were lost in Desert Storm? ›

Of the nine Abrams destroyed, seven were due to friendly fire, and two were intentionally destroyed to prevent capture after they became disabled.

How many tanks did Iraq lose? ›

Answer and Explanation: It is estimated that 85 Iraqi tanks were destroyed in the Gulf War, 30 of them during the 'Battle of 73 Easting. ' During this battle, the U.S. Army defeated and entire division of the elite Iraqi Republican Guard.

Why did the US intervene in Kuwait? ›

The three most serious reasons for involvement were oil, order, and weapons proliferation. Oil is the most tangible interest, though not necessarily the most important. Oil provides about 40 percent of American energy, and about 45 percent of this oil is imported.

What war did US lose the most soldiers? ›

The American Civil War is the conflict with the largest number of American military fatalities in history. In fact, the Civil War's death toll is comparable to all other major wars combined, the deadliest of which were the World Wars, which have a combined death toll of more than 520,000 American fatalities.

How many US Abrams tanks have been destroyed in combat? ›

Just over 2,000 Abrams tanks were deployed with combat units during the war, and only 23 were damaged or destroyed. Of the nine that were destroyed, none were lost as a result of enemy action.

What is the M1 Abrams weakness? ›

However, what makes it successful is also its greatest weakness. Its heavy weight and high speed means it guzzles gas and needs frequent refueling. “Once it is refilled it can move at a blinding speed but it doesn't have a good mileage,” said Piers Wood, a senior fellow at Global

How many tanks does Russia have left? ›

While it's true that Russia has in storage some 10,000 old tanks—T-62s, T-72s and T-80s—many have been sitting outside, exposed to the elements and looters, for decades.

What can destroy an Abrams tank? ›

Guidelines To Destroy M1 Abrams Tanks

Also, Russian-language reports recommend hitting the fuel tank, located in the front section on both sides of the driver. This burning fuel is expected to fall into the engine compartment, causing the engine to catch fire and explode.

Is Kuwait a U.S. ally? ›

Kuwait is an important partner in U.S. counterterrorism efforts, providing assistance in the military, diplomatic, and intelligence arenas and also supporting efforts to block financing of terrorist groups. The United States provides no development assistance to Kuwait.

Does the U.S. protect Kuwait? ›

The United States provides military and defense technical support to Kuwait through Foreign Military Sales as well as commercial sales. U.S. personnel assist the Kuwaiti military with training, education, and readiness.

What was the real reason for the Gulf War? ›

Iraq's leader, Saddam Hussein, ordered the invasion and occupation of Kuwait with the apparent aim of acquiring that nation's large oil reserves, canceling a large debt Iraq owed Kuwait, and expanding Iraqi power in the region.

Has an enemy ever destroyed an Abrams? ›

Of the nine Abrams tanks destroyed, seven were destroyed by friendly fire and two intentionally destroyed to prevent capture by the Iraqi Army. Some others took minor combat damage, with little effect on their operational readiness.

What tank will replace the Abrams? ›

The new main battle tank is called AbramsX.

"AbramsX: A main battle tank for the next generation, the AbramsX technology demonstrator features reduced weight for improved mobility and transportability, delivering the same tactical range as the M1A2 Abrams with 50% less fuel consumption.

Do tanks have toilets? ›

No, there is no toilet in a tank. The simple reason is that the tank was built to fight so every space in the tank is there to support that purpose. A toilet would take up a lot of space in the hull or turret which would change the characteristics of the tank: weight, height, carrying space.

What was the most brutal war in American history? ›

The American Civil War

Of all the wars fought by Americans, it was the one that saw the nation literally torn apart that had the most significant casualties. According to a 2012 study, approximately 750,000 soldiers from both sides were killed during the American Civil War (1861-1865).

What is the deadliest event in human history? ›

Table ranking "History's Most Deadly Events": Influenza pandemic (1918-19) 20-40 million deaths; black death/plague (1348-50), 20-25 million deaths, AIDS pandemic (through 2000) 21.8 million deaths, World War II (1937-45), 15.9 million deaths, and World War I (1914-18) 9.2 million deaths.

What was the worst battle in American history? ›

The deadliest single-day battle in American history, if all engaged armies are considered, is the Battle of Antietam with 5,389 killed, including both United States and Confederate soldiers (total casualties for both sides was 22,717 dead, wounded, or missing Union and Confederate soldiers September 17, 1862).

Why doesn t the U.S. send Abrams to Ukraine? ›

Pentagon officials had argued in recent weeks that the Abrams was not suitable for Ukrainian battlefields for multiple reasons. Chief among them, they said, is the complexity of operating and maintaining the tanks.

How many miles can an Abrams tank shoot? ›

Lethality. The M1 boasts a 120mm XM256 smoothbore cannon, a high velocity – and highly accurate – weapon that can destroy enemy tanks and other hard targets. The cannon can effectively hit targets as much as 1.86 miles away. It also includes a 7.62 mm M240, a belt-fed, gas operated, medium-sized coaxial machine gun.

How far can an Abrams tank shoot? ›

The tank cannon has a maximum effective range of about 3000 meters, and precise aim is required to make a hit. The self-guided missile, however, can — like Longbow Hellfire — be effective to more than 8000 meters, and the electronic brain continually corrects the flight path as necessary.

How many miles per gallon is an Abrams tank? ›

0.6 miles per gallon.

Can a 10 destroy Abrams tank? ›

Can A-10 destroy Abrams tank? 'As pretty much everyone else answering this question has pointed out… the A-10 can fairly easily destroy a tank. As can anything else slinging either an AGM-65 Maverick or an AGM-114 Hellfire.

Which is better t14 Armata or Abrams? ›

The Abrams has technical superiority in terms of mobility and cross-country performance. This tank is a proven design, that recommended itself well during numerous military conflicts. The Armata has an advantage of survivability and crew protection. Though this tank is still a raw design with numerous problems.

Can Russia run out of tanks? ›

Two or three years. That's how long the Russian army might have before it runs out of tanks, according to one estimate. And that's why it's not inconceivable that, in the near future, Moscow might do what Kyiv has done—and ask its foreign allies for their tanks.

Who has more tanks US or Russia? ›

Numbering 12,556 tanks, the Russian Federation has the largest fleet in their arsenal by far, from the workhorse T-72 series to the ultra-advanced T-14 Armata. This is more than the combined total of the number two and three spots, North Korea (6,645) and the U.S. (5,500).

What is currently the best tank in the world? ›

Abrams Is The Best Main Battle Tank In The World. But Improving It Should Still Be A Priority.

Will a javelin missile take out an Abrams tank? ›

Yes, any missile with a top-attack mode can defeat an M1 from the front or side arcs, because it actually goes in through the relatively weak roof armour. So yes, they can shoot at and stop an Abrams from the front.

Does an Abrams tank have a toilet? ›

M1 Abrams: No, there is no toilet in a tank. The simple reason is that the tank was built to fight so every space in the tank is there to support that purpose. A toilet would take up a lot of space in the hull or turret which would change the characteristics of the tank: weight, height, carrying space.

What is the most lethal tank in the world? ›

1. The South Korean K2 Black Panther.

Are U.S. troops still in Kuwait? ›

Camp Virginia Army Base in Al Jahra, Kuwait

Camp Virginia is one of the 15 US bases located in Kuwait. These days, only 7 of them are still active and this one is among them. The others are no longer existent.

Does the U.S. have any troops in Kuwait? ›

Camp Arifjan is a United States Army installation in Kuwait which accommodates elements of the US Air Force, US Navy, US Marine Corps and US Coast Guard.

How many U.S. troops are in Kuwait? ›

Approximately 13,500 U.S. forces are based in Kuwait, primarily at Camp Arifjan and Ali al-Salem Air Base.

How do Kuwaitis feel about Americans? ›

Kuwaiti attitudes toward American people and products have been favorable since the Gulf War, with 63% of Kuwaitis viewing the U.S. favorably in 2003 – a view more positive than that of close U.S. NATO allies such as Italy, Germany, and France – declining slightly down to 46% in 2007.

Who is Kuwait allies with? ›

Kuwait's foreign policy is founded on Gulf unity and a long-standing strategic alliance with the United States.

Who is Kuwait friends with? ›

Kuwait, is a member of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, which includes, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman. These countries, have solid, and unbreakable bilateral relations.

Why did the US support Kuwait in Gulf War? ›

So, why did the United States get involved in what would become known as the Gulf War? The simple, straightforward answer for your test is that U.S. troops were sent to remove Saddam Hussein's forces from Kuwait.

Why did the US help Kuwait in the Gulf War? ›

The international context was crucial for Saddam's decision to invade in Kuwait and international condemnation. The USA's decision to intervene was a signaled to other nations that aggression would not go unchallenged.

Why did Iraq lose the Gulf War? ›

Harsh service conditions, the belief that resistance would be futile, and lack of willingness to fight and die for Saddam led the majority of officers and troops to do little fighting or to desert their units before being engaged. Superior military capabilities gave Coalition forces an overwhelming advantage.

How many aircraft did US lose in Iraq? ›

A report published in Aircraft Survivability in Summer 2010 gave a total of 375 U.S. helicopters lost in Iraq and Afghanistan up to 2009.
Fixed-wing losses.
TypeDestroyedHostile fire
F-16 Fighting Falcon5
C-130 Hercules4 (2 , 2 )2
A-10 Warthog11
AV-8 Harrier1
9 more rows

How many tanks does USA have left? ›

According to the IISS, the US Army has 2,509 Abrams M1A1 and M1A2 tanks in service, with a further 3,700 in storage.

How many soldiers did USA lose in Iraq? ›

As of March 2021, 11 U.S. soldiers died in Iraq in 2020. This is a decrease from a peak of 904 casualties in 2007.
Number of U.S. soldiers killed in the Iraq war from 2003 to 2020.
CharacteristicNumber of fatalities
9 more rows
Sep 30, 2022

How many Iraqi tanks were destroyed in the first Gulf War? ›

Some 41 Iraqi divisions—30 infantry, 4 mechanized, and 7 armoured—were effectively wiped out, and the material losses suffered by the Iraqi military were staggering. Iraqi equipment captured or destroyed included 3,008 tanks, 1,856 armoured vehicles, and 2,140 artillery pieces.

How many US pilots were shot down in Vietnam? ›

United States Navy

532 aircraft were lost in combat and 329 more to operational causes, resulting in the deaths of 401 naval aviators, with 64 airmen reported missing and 179 taken prisoner of war.

Why did the US lose so many aircraft in Vietnam? ›

By mid-1965, several manned aircraft were lost due to ground fire, lack of fuel, mishaps, and other causes, and many aircrews were already prisoners of war.

Does the F 22 have any kills? ›

There it racked up an impressive tally of 29 air-to-air kills with no losses, against state-of-the-art MiG-29s and other capable fighters.

Why are the US Marines getting rid of tanks? ›

Last year, the Marine Corps got rid of the last of its active duty tank units and most of its traditional tube artillery as part of FD2030. This was Berger's plan to reshape the Marine Corps primarily to fight a prospective long-range, high-tech, over-water war with China.

Are Russian tanks better than American? ›

Overall the new Russian tank is on par with the US Abrams tank. In some areas it is slightly superior than the Abrams, however it has got no cutting-edge superiority. The Abrams has technical superiority in terms of mobility and cross-country performance.

How many tanks do Russia have left? ›

But, while the battlefield losses are notable, Russia retains a large number of old tanks in long-term storage, currently estimated at 5,000, meaning Moscow can continue to pursue an attritional strategy for some time to come.

What is the most kills by a soldier? ›

Charles Benjamin "Chuck" Mawhinney (born 1949) is a former United States Marine who holds the Corps' record for the most confirmed sniper kills, having recorded 103 confirmed kills and 216 probable kills in 16 months during the Vietnam War. Lakeview, Oregon, U.S.

How long did it take the US to destroy Iraq? ›

The invasion phase began on 19 March 2003 (air) and 20 March 2003 (ground) and lasted just over one month, including 26 days of major combat operations, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq.

How many US soldiers were in Iraq at peak? ›

During the surge in troops initiated by President Bush, average troop strength in Iraq grew by 7,000 or 6% in FY2007 and another 9,500 or 9% in FY2008, reaching a peak of 157,800.

How many Abrams were lost in Iraq? ›

A total of 23 M1A1s were damaged or destroyed during the war. Of the nine Abrams tanks destroyed, seven were destroyed by friendly fire and two intentionally destroyed to prevent capture by the Iraqi Army.


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