The Linkup: The Advance Party Joins the Main Body
Khobar Towers, Saudi Arabia—One of the worst memories the advance party recalled was the layover time spent at the ports of Dammam and Dhahran where physical training was the high point of every day. That memory however was later topped by SCUD missile alerts after the war began on January 17, averaging four per night. The beginning of hostilities further cut into sleep by requiring 100% early morning guard details in order to defend against an expected pre-emptive invasion by Iraq.
Fortunately, positive results outweighed the negative experiences. The group appreciated a chance to become mentally acclimated to Saudi as well as helping out their parent units with some civil affairs tasks such as searching for wells, procuring interpreters and matching up lost people and materiel with parent units.
Most significantly however — and foreshadowing the unit’s primary mission — was the high visibility the 432nd’s people had with the VII Corps command staff, such as CPT Agen and LTC Bukowski. The unit’s people were familiar to the command through years of Capstone connections, and they gained a reputation for being high quality professionals who obviously had their act together. Moreover, when the unit’s supplies began arriving with the main body, the 432nd began looking more like a brigade headquarters than merely a company. This too foreshadowed a situation where civil affairs units will no longer be designated as companies. They are to be assigned to a level of battalion or higher.
The visibility being acquired by the 432nd combined with the lack of displaced civilians in the VII Corps area of operations eventually led to the change of the 432nd’s mission from supporting VII Corps to aiding the relief of Kuwait City. It was back at Dhahran AFB on Tuesday and Wednesday, February 5-6, however when the advance party’s link up with the main body began. Members of the main body appreciated seeing the familiar faces of advance party people in the unfamiliar setting of Saudi Arabia. The last official function of the advance party was to guide the school buses, jammed with the main body, from the airport to the new home of the 432nd at Khobar Village.
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