As the armor adviser to Royal Saudi Land Forces during and three years after Desert Storm, I strongly object to the Sept. 25 Post and Courier letter to the editor that stated, “The Saudis did not engage their considerable capabilities face-to-face ... in Operation Desert Storm to assist the United States.”
In fact, Saudi Arabia strongly supported Desert Storm militarily, financially and logistically. Its small 66,000-man army moved to the Saudi-Kuwaiti border, facing an Iraqi force of 100,000 and 850 tanks, before any U.S. tanks arrived in the theater.
In the words of Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, “To them, it was a point of honor that the first blood shed in defense of the kingdom should be their own.”
On Jan. 30, 1991, the Saudis counterattacked to retake Al Khafji from Iraq, the first ground engagement of Desert Storm. Soon, Saudi Arabia had absorbed U.S. forces equal to its own size, providing fuel, water, transportation, accommodations and fresh food.
The kingdom purchased 150 U.S. M60 tanks and began training crews. Between mid-August and mid-October, U.S. forces had spent $760 million, which the kingdom reimbursed.
As the Iraqi forces reached 545,000, the coalition hastened to match it, eventually reaching the number of troops deployed at the height of the Vietnam War.
Of the Saudis, Syrians, Egyptians, Kuwaitis, Moroccans, Nigerians, Omanis, Qataris, Pakistanis, Senegalese, British, French, Czechs and Polish, the Saudis remained the second-largest contributor after the U.S. All of these forces required Saudi logistical support.
During Desert Shield, the kingdom purchased enough Black Hawk helicopters, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, and Patriot missile systems to create a much larger future defense force.
With the implosion of the U.S. military after the end of the Cold War, U.S. demand for new weapon systems imploded as well.
For years, the Saudi government had been the only cash customer of the U.S. Foreign Military Sales Program. At that point, sales to the kingdom single-handedly sustained U.S. weapons producers.
In particular, the Saudis’ $5.8 billion purchase of two fully equipped armor brigades enabled the per item cost of the newly developed M1A2 battle tank to drop enough that the U.S. was able to outfit its own forces with the M1A2.
WILLIAM G. KASTNER
Retired Army lieutenant colonel
In Charleston, you don’t always get what you pay for. We don’t go downtown in the evening as much as we used to, annoyed by the $2 per hour meter charge. But on Sept. 10, I attended a meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. at a downtown event venue.
There was plenty of street parking in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian. I parked at 5:50 p.m., swiped my credit card in the meter and entered a little over two hours’ credit.
But wait, you can only park for two hours before 6 p.m., then three hours after that. So the meter registered only two hours. Oh well, maybe the meeting would wrap up early; it did not. I tried to leave early. Unfortunately, the speaker was between me and the exit.
So, when the credit card charge came through, it was for the amount I entered, over two hours, not for the two hours it accepted and posted.
Now I know the parking rules better. So should the meter.
It’s great that congressman Joe Cunningham puts the Lowcountry above party.
Maybe Joe should put his country above all things. Maybe he should consider his constitutional duty to do his job.
Congress has ceded war powers to the executive branch. The power of the purse is in question as appropriations are shuffled to pet projects at the executive’s whim. Please, do not give up the power of oversight.
I know Mr. Cunningham is worried about reelection, but putting politics above your country, the Lowcountry and party is not the way to go.
Joe, be a leader and do your job. If you really want to put the Lowcountry first, stand up to the president.
I recently was at the beach in the Charleston area and picked up The Post and Courier each morning.
The coverage of the MOX project, flooding issues in Charleston, Santee Cooper and other critical state and local topics demonstrates that great newspaper reporting is not dead in South Carolina.
Plus, you even cover state and local topics on your editorial pages. Who would have guessed?
The Post and Courier is the best newspaper in South Carolina. Thank you.