The Accident at Camp Doha
The following text is courtesy the U.S. Government at: www.gulflink.osd.mil
In June, 1991, four months after Operation Desert Storm had ended, the US 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (ACR)
deployed from Germany to occupy Camp Doha, near Kuwait City, to serve as a deterrent/rapid response force.
The 11th ACR, with about 3,600 personnel, had not taken part in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. As of
July 1991, the regiment was the only US ground combat unit remaining in the Gulf Theater. It replaced the
1st Brigade of the US Army’s 3rd Armored Division, the last US unit to have engaged in ground combat during
Desert Storm. Due to the threat of renewed hostilities, the 11th ACR’s combat vehicles were kept "combat loaded"
with ammunition, even in garrison, to reduce their response time in case of renewed hostilities with Iraq. An equal
amount of ammunition was stored in MILVANS containers or conexes (large 20-foot or 40-foot metal transport containers)
stored in the North Compound motor pool complex near the combat vehicle parking ramps.
On the morning of July 11, 1991, two of the 11th ACR’s three combat formations, called squadrons, were field-deployed,
leaving behind a single squadron (plus support elements) to serve as a guard force. This squadron was parked in Camp
Doha’s North Compound, a fenced-off area comprising several motor pool pads, each the size of two or three football fields,
as well as some administrative buildings and a wash rack. Also located in the area was a compound were approximately 250 British soldiers,
mainly from the Royal Anglian Regiment and Headquarters British Forces Middle East.
At approximately 10:20 A.M, a defective heater in a M992 ammunition carrier loaded with 155mm artillery shells caught on
fire. Unit members tried unsuccessfully to extinguish the fire before being ordered to evacuate the North Compound. This
evacuation was still underway when the burning M992 exploded at 11:00 AM, scattering artillery submunitions (bomblets) over
nearby combat-loaded vehicles and ammunition stocks. This set off an hours-long series of blasts and fires that devastated
the vehicles and equipment in the North Compound and scattered unexploded ordnance (UXOs) and debris over much of the remainder
of the camp. The fires produced billowing black and white clouds of smoke that rose hundreds of feet into the air and
drifted to the east-southeast, across portions of both the North and South Compounds, in the direction of Kuwait City.
The fires had died down enough by mid-afternoon to allow a preliminary damage assessment. There were no fatalities; however,
49 US soldiers were injured, two seriously. Most of the injuries were fractures, sprains, contusions, or lacerations suffered
when troops scrambled over the 15-foot high perimeter wall to escape the North Compound. In addition, four British troops received minor injuries.
The post-blast destruction was overwhelming. One hundred and two vehicles were damaged or destroyed, including four M1A1 tanks
and numerous other combat vehicles. More than two dozen buildings sustained damage as well. Among the estimated $14 million
in munitions that had been damaged or destroyed were 660 M829 120mm DU sabot rounds.