March 9, 1991: The Choke Point

Steven Dutch, Professor Emeritus, Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay

Sat 9 Mar

The wind shifted overnight to the south, and blew smoke over the camp. At 0830 it was still night. Later the Sun became dimly visible as a red ball. Our team signed up for a visit to the "choke point" today. We were supposed to leave at 0900 but there was some concern the tour would not go at all because of the poor visibility. However, we left on schedule. A few miles west of camp it was bright and sunny, and we went from night to day in about a mile. Some of the smaller fires are dying out; one well had only a small flame and oil was flowing on the ground.

The choke point is a few miles west of Al Jahra, west of Kuwait City. There the main road (the only road) to Iraq runs up through a line of bluffs, which are about the only significant relief in Kuwait. The bluffs are not very rugged, and only a couple of hundred feet high, but it is just rugged enough at the top of the bluffs to block wheeled vehicle traffic. On the north side of the road the bluffs come right to the road; on the south side a pipeline trench channelized movement. Tanks would probably have no problem, but wheeled vehicles couldn't make it. Our tanks and planes caught the retreating Iraqis here and smashed them. Once the road was blocked at the top, there was no place to go. We found a miles-long wilderness of burned and abandoned vehicles.

Against regulations, and on a strict promise of secrecy, the driver stopped the bus for 15 minutes. Stopping was discouraged because of plentiful unexploded ordnance. I found an old-style pineapple grenade and a Russian version of the LAW with Cyrillic characters on it. More sobering was a spot about 50 yards of the road where a shell had killed 5 or 6 Iraqis, who were still there. The shell crater was about 10 feet across by 2 deep.

That afternoon our team went to Sabahiya. Food is getting through, and they had rice, powdered milk for infants, oil and bottled water. They had jury-rigged a generator to power the store and police station.

The wind shifted to the west and cleared the smoke away from us for much of the afternoon. In the evening I cleared out some boxes and pallets to make a nicer living area. I was out with my team the first day and did not get a cubicle, so I used boxes to build a wall for a little privacy.

Through the Oil Fields

gwh309a.jpg (38623 bytes) gwh309b.jpg (33468 bytes)
gwh309c.jpg (36536 bytes)

North to the Choke Point

gwh309n.jpg (35179 bytes) gwh309m.jpg (38517 bytes)
gwh309l.jpg (36230 bytes)

At the Choke Point

gwh309d.jpg (43940 bytes) The terrain off-road is just rough enough to prevent auto traffic. That's all it took.
gwh309e.jpg (61824 bytes) gwh309f.jpg (68359 bytes)
gwh309g.jpg (53733 bytes)
gwh309j.jpg (44333 bytes) Looking up the main road from Kuwait to Iraq. The debris by this time was bulldozed aside to open the road. In the fall of 1991 I saw a magazine photo of this road with the debris completely gone.
gwh309o.jpg (65395 bytes) gwh309r.jpg (60691 bytes)
gwh309q.jpg (79773 bytes) I didn't think anyone even used pineapple grenades any more.
gwh309k.jpg (103435 bytes) This crater resulted from a shell that killed several Iraqi soldiers.
gwh309i.jpg (93243 bytes) I don't see anything cool about trophy shots of enemy dead. We were warned that the Kuwaitis considered it offensive to photograph dead bodies. This is the only picture I took of enemy casualties.

Go to Gulf War photo Pages
Go to Gulf War Text Diary
Go to Gulf War Combined photo-Text Pages
Go to 432d Civil Affairs Battalion Page
Return to Professor Dutch's home page

Created January 10, 2000; Last Update 11 June 2020

Not an Official U.S. Army page