In attachment H061.2 I continue with Part 3 of my personal account of Desert Storm, covering the aftermath period from March to June 1991, focused on the attempts to establish an improved and enduring U.S. Navy command and control structure in the Central Command Theater, as well as growing dismay at the Navy’s losing public relations battle over the Navy’s role in Desert Shield/Storm. Even more dismaying was the fact that, despite suffering one of the most lopsided defeats in military history, Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein not only refused to admit defeat, he actually claimed a great victory. As U.S. forces in the region demobilized and returned to CONUS in pell-mell fashion, Saddam was busy using his surviving forces to slaughter Shia in the south and Kurds in the north who had dared to rise up against him, in response to U.S. encouragement, only to get no support in the south, and support in the north (Operation Provide Comfort) only after thousands of Kurds were driven from their homes into the mountains. And finally, the SEVENTH Fleet Staff and USS BLUE RIDGE (LCC-19) returned to Yokosuka after their longest deployment (9 ½ months) just in time to see USS MOUNT WHITNEY (LCC-20,) which never left the pier in Norfolk, represent the U.S. Navy at the big Desert Storm victory celebration in New York City.
However, I also want to highlight the critical contribution of U.S. Navy Sealift, U.S. Navy Construction Battalions, and U.S. Navy Medicine to the success of Desert Storm. Although these did not fall under U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (COMUSVAVCENT) control (which is why I have no personal recollection of their actions) victory in Desert Storm would not have been possible without them.