American textbook introductions to the region around Iraq label the area as the "cradle of civilization" while students of the Bible see ancient boundaries surrounding Mesopotamia and plot cities near the Tigris and Euphrates rivers such as Ur, birthplace of the Biblical prophet Abraham, and Ninevah, capital of Assyria.

But the current image is of night-time air strikes and infantrymen pounding the ground with picks and shovels to gouge out shelters for a ground battle against Iraq that could begin with the same suddenness as the air campaign that followed the United Nation's deadline for Iraq's withdrawl from Kuwait by one day.Troops arriving in Saudi Arabia late last summer were greeted by the sweltering heat and foreign smells of the desert. Scorpions and vipers posed the greatest threat, followed by the threat of unseen chemical and biological agents that prompted each soldier to carry a gas mask at all times -- even to the shower.

Aerial contests between patriot and Scud missles now add to the anxiety of the troops on the ground in Saudi Arabia. And the first American servicemen have lost their lives fighting Iraqi armored vehicles near the border between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

And while the air campaign continues with the number of fighter, bomber and reconnaissance flights in the thousands, it's seen now as the dropping of the first shoe. The second shoe drops at the beginning of a ground war.

"I'm going to dig more and more until I can't dig no more," said Pvt. Gregory White, 20, of Los Angeles, while digging a foxhole in a forward scouting position with the 2nd Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division in northern Saudi Arabia. "Each shovel I scoop out means I might save an arm. The next shovel means I might save a leg. Every shovel could be a part of the body you're protecting."

The Iraqis have had five months to dig in. Most of the 82nd has been in position less than one week.

The conflict has yet to gain an official name. Whether the gulf war will officially become known as the Gulf War, the Mother of All Wars, as Saddam Hussein has labeled it, or as World War III no one knows.

Regardless of its eventual scale, the battling already has worldwide ramifications.

In the United States, patriotism seems to have outdistanced anti-war sentiments that dominated the Vietnam War era. People are going out of their way to wear or display the American flag. Homes, parks, schools and lapels are decorated with yellow ribbons.

And the list of Americans who are leaving their jobs and families to fill obligations in the National Guard and Reserve forces grows daily.

In Saudi Arabia, the kingdom's economy is booming but the costs of sponsoring foreign troops on its soil has forced the rich-from-oil nation into a first quarter deficit exceeding all of its debt for 1990 so far.

Israel stand poised to strike bak at Iraqi attacks -- a move that would fetter political warfare with holy war fanaticism.

And in Iraq, the ancient city of Ur is now a neighbor to an air base and is very close to fighting; and heavy bombing near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul may have damaged nearby Ninevah.

Key Players

Saddam Hussein, President if Iraq

Born April 28, 1937, in the northern Iraqi city of Tikrit. Orphaned at an early age. Sentenced to death for assasination attempt on Iraqi Prime Minister Kassem in 1959. Fled to Egypt but returned to Iraq in 1963. Seized power in Baath party coup in 1968.

George Bush, United States President\ Born June 12, 1924, in Milton, Mass. Served in U.S. Navy as pilot during World War II. Has served as a U.S. congressman, ambassador to the United Nations and to China, CIA Director, Republican National Committee chairman and vice president.

King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz, King of Saudi Arabia

Born 1923 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, the founder of Saudi Arabia. Has also served in various governmental positions, including Crown Prince and deputy prime minister.

Richard B. Cheney, U.S. Secretary of Defense

Born Jan. 30, 1941, in Lincoln, Nebraska. Graduated from the University of Wyoming. A staunch conservative, Cheney served six terms as Wyoming's representative to the U.S. Congress.

Gen. Colin Powell, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

Born April 5, 1937, in N.Y.C. Received two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star during two tours of duty in Vietnam. Has served as assistant to the president for National Security Affairs.

Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, Commander of allied forces in the gulf

Born Aug. 22, 1934. Graduated from West Point in 1956. Received three Silver Stars and two Purple Hearts during two tours in Vietnam.\


Maverick air-to-surface guided missile

AH-1S Huey Cobra

A-10A Thunderbolt

30mm chair gun

Hellfire missiles

Laser nose sight

AH-64 Apache - Max. range 300 miles

Top speed 184 mph

both crew members are equipped with the Honeywell integrate helmet and display sight system.


Tanks 2,950

APCs 3,650

Artillery pieces 1,079

Helicopters 1,925

M-1 Abrams - Cannon 105 mm, top speed - 45 mph



Iraqi T-72 Cannon 125 mm, top speed - 50 mph

Tanks 4,200

APCs 2,800

Artillery pieces 3,100

Helicopters 160


Chemical weapons Iraq is known to have stockpiled

Agent Reaction Iraqi Stockpile Physical Impact

Mustard Gas Blindness by

scalding the

eye surface 1,400 tons Inhaled mustard gas can

Lethal if inhaled

blister the lungs. Breathing

becomes painful, tissue lining

the lungs dies, patient coughs

blood and pneumonia becomes a


Nerve Gas A drop absorbed

through the skin

can be fatal in

10 minutes. 200 pounds Spasms, convulsions, difficulty

breathing and finally suffocation.


195,000 Army

55,000 Marines

35,000 Navy

40,000 Air Force

Total Allied Strength: 585,000


555,000 Regular Army

480,000 Reserves

In Kuwait: 280,000 deployed

230,000 in southern Iraq.

125,000 Republican Guard


Military Units called up since the beginning of the gulf crisis:>

Service Number of People

Branch Unit

Army 419th Transportation

Reserve Company 170

328th General Hospital 700

321st Medical detachment 50

244th Personnel Services 110


Army National 142nd Military Intelligence 18

Guard Battalion

Company A 80

144th Evacuation Hospital 423

625th Military Police Company 111

1457th Engineer Battalion 708

Air Force 4th & 421st Tactical Fighter

Squadrons 2,000

(Air Force refuses to release figures.)

Air Force Reserve 419th Tactical Fighter Wing

Firefighters 24

Medical Squadron 68

Civil Engineering Squadron 16

67th and 68th Aerial Port

Squadrons 6

Air National

Guard 191st Air Refueling Group


169th Electronics Security

Squadron 8

State Headquarters Staff 1

151st Consolidated Aircraft

Maintenance Squadron 22

106th and 109th Tactical

Control Squadron 1

151st Civil Engineering 12

151st Security Police Flight 26

151st Services Flight 9

Coast Guard Reserve 5

Navy Reserve Naval Reserve Readiness Center 238

Marine Reserve 4TH Marine Div

23rd Regiment

2nd Battalion

Company F 130


Bombing raids using F111s and F-16s have been launched from the Incirlik Air Base in Turkey.

Repeated Scud missile attacks have been launched against Israeli cities from Western Iraq.

Air sorties and Cruise missile attacks have been launched from the Saratoga, Kennedy, Roosevelt and America carrier battle groups located in the Red Sea.

Thousands of air sorties have been launched against Iraq from air bases located in Northern Saudi Arabia.

Numerous Scud missiles have been intercepted and destroyed by Patriot missiles.

More than one hundred Iraqi military jets have fled to airfields in Iran.

The USS Ranger and Midway battle groups along with the battleships Wisconsin and Missouri continue to attack Iraqi positions in Kuwait.


Population: 2.1 million

Gross National Product per capita: $13,680

Estimated Oil Reserves: 97.1 billion barrels

Saudi Arabia

Population: 15.0 million

Gross National Product per capita: $6,170

Estimated Oil Reserves: 157.6 billion barrels


Population: 18.8 million

Gross National Product per capita: $1,950

Estimated Oil Reserves: 100.0 Billion Barrels


Standard procedure is to take casualties by ground vehicle to a point out of the direct line of fire to where medical evacuation helicopters can land without going out of their way to risk being shot at.

Some pilots have flown evacuation helicopters into a live-fire zone, but that isn't the routine.

Medical helicopters are not armed except with the personal side arms crew members carry to aid in their survival if the craft is shot down. U.S. troops do not shoot at enemy evacuation vehicles, but troops would become suspect if enemy choppers bearing medical insignia were carrying machine guns or missiles.

Bell UH-1H Huey

Top Speed, 127mph

Range, 248 miles



SCUD (Iraq)


Modified Russian missile

Range: Up to 400 miles

Approx. 40 Ft. high



TOW (U.S.)




Some other missiles deployed in the Gulf


Harpoon: Air-To-Surface

Hellfire: Air-To-Surface

Maverick: Air-to-Surface

Seasparrow: Shipborne, Surface-to-Surface

Sea Wolf: Shipborne, Surface-to-Surface

Slam: Standoff land attack missile

Tomahawk: Ship-launchged cruise missile


Frog-7: Surface-to-Surface

Exocet: Air-to-Surface


F-117 Stealth (U.S.): Fighter-Bomber

F-15E Eagle (U.S.) Fighter-Bomber

B-52 (U.S.) Long-Range heavy bomber

Some other aircraft deployed in the Gulf:


F-16 Falcon: Multi-role fighter

A-10 Sarthog: Close support attack aircraft

F-18 Hornet: Fighter & Attack

A-6 Intruder: All-Weather attack

F-111: Long-Range bomber

F-4 Wild Weasel: Radar-jamming fighter-bomber

E-3 AWACS: Airborne warning & Control system

Tornado: Air-to-Air or Air-to-Ground fighter

F-14 Tomcat: Multi-role fighter

Harrier: Attack & close support


MiG-21 Fishbed: Obsolete 1950s Soviet fighter

MiG-23 Flogger: 1970s vintage Soviet attack jet

MiG-29 Fulcrum: Top-of-the-line Soviet fighter