The 1990 Iraq invasion of Kuwait and the Desert Shield response quickly sent wargame designers to their monitors in hopes of creating products that would help educate the public on Gulf military matters while making a few bucks as well. GDW published the high selling Desert Shield Fact Book, new scenarios for Victory Games’ Gulf Strike appeared, Omega Games published Desert Victory, and TSR contributed two A Line in the Sand games (a boxed game based on Red Storm Rising and a much simpler game printed in Warhawks #3--an attempt to merge adventure gaming and comic books.).

The most ambitious project was done in Strategy & Tactics 139, then published by 3W and again being edited by Jim Dunnigan. In August 1990, Tom Lehmann emailed Dunnigan mentioning that he had reworked Oil War (S&T 52) for the 1990 situation and was curious as to Dunnigan’s comments. Dunnigan responded by asking Lehmann if he would be interested in designing a game on the Desert Storm situation. After no response for a while (Lehmann rarely checked his email back then), Dunnigan ended up turning to frequent collaborator Austin Bay. Since the game had a five week deadline, the various designers and testers used the embryonic internet (mostly GEnie) to get it done. Arabian Nightmare: The Kuwait War thus became the first wargame to be designed electronically. In retrospect, AN:TKW got some things right, and some things wrong. Like the fall of France in 1940, it is virtually impossible to simulate Saddam Hussein’s ineptitude and the quick, crushing Coalition victory. Mark Herman’s modification of Gulf Strike did the best of all the various wargames on the subject. Still, Bay got the outlines of the campaign right and there are many ingenious ideas in the game.

The purpose here is to adapt the introductory and military games from AN:TKW to the 2003 war against Iraq. This article is not intended to be a definitive study of the Second Gulf War, but merely offers some ideas for any who are interested in the subject.


Use AN:TKW units unless otherwise indicated.

1st MEF:
1st Marine Expeditionary Force (any three 9-10-6 units)
2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (use the 4th MEB)
UK 1st Armoured Brigade
UK 3rd Commando Brigade
15th and 24th MEUs

V Corps:
101st Air Assault Division, including a helicopter brigade
82nd Airborne Division, 2nd Brigade
3rd Mechanized Infantry Division (3 brigades plus a 2-12 helicopter brigade)
5th Special Forces Group, 2nd Battalion

Special Operations:
173rd Airborne Brigade
10th Special Forces Group (2 battalions)
26th MEU

3rd and 5th Special Forces Group (4 battalions)
75th Ranger Regiment (2 battalions)

75th Ranger Regiment (1 battalion)
Australian SAS (1 battalion)
Australian 4th RAR (battalion)
UK SAS battalion

8th and 10th SEAL Companies
Polish Grom Company (1-4)

2 Chemical Warfare battalions

4th Mechanized Infantry Division (use 24th Mechanized Division and 197th Brigade)
1st Armored Division, 3rd Brigade
3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment
Helicopter brigade 3-12 (use 6th Cavalry)
2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment

Air Force
20 F-16 squadrons
11 F-15 squadrons
10 A-10 squadrons
4 B-1 squadrons
2 B-2 squadrons (2-25-U e)
1 F-117 squadron
3 B-52 squadrons

A-10s, F-15s, and F-16s come in a variety of designs. Your forces should include a mix of these. Also, assume that all of these planes are more powerful than the ones in the first Gulf war, so their strength versus ground and air targets should be increased by 50%.

6 Carrier groups (Nimitz, Constellation, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, Harry S Truman, Kitty Hawk). Deploy the Roosevelt and Truman in the Mediterranean. Increase the strengths of the naval air units in the original game by 50%. All may launch cruise missile attacks.

4 F-18 squadrons. Increase air strengths by 50%


At the start of the game, the US player has the 1st MEF, the V Corps, all Special Forces, all chemical warfare battalions, all naval forces, 173rd Airborne (enters on the second turn from the western side of the map), and the following squadrons: 4 F-15 (in Qatar), 3 F-16, 1 F-117, 3 A-10, 2 B-52, 1-B-1 (Oman), 1 B-2. No more than 3 squadrons can be placed in Turkey or Saudi Arabia. Deploy 2 Special Forces battalions and the UK SAS unit inside Iraq. Remaining land units deploy in Kuwait.

Reinforcements would be in this order: 4th Infantry, 3rd Armored Cavalry, 3rd Brigade/1st Armored, 2nd Armored Cavalry, then any other units. 1 brigade or regiment per turn starting on turn 5. Bring in 1 squadron (player’s choice) per turn.

To study a more extended buildup, use all the forces in the order of battle. Deploy three Special Forces battalions anywhere inside of Iraq. The 173rd Airborne can be deployed in Jordan as an option. The rest of the land units go in Kuwait, with the air divided among Kuwait, Saudi Arabia (3 squadrons maximum), Abu Dhabi, Oman, Qatar and Diego Garcia.

Another option is if the situation in Turkey had been resolved in the American favor: deploy the 101st, the North Special Operations units, and one fourth of the air units there.

All US units are EW capable.

US Allies (deploy all at start)

Britain-3 Tornado, 2 Jaguar, 2 Harrier squadrons in Kuwait. Ark Royal Carrier group in the Persian Gulf.

4 chemical warfare battalions. Represents German, Czech and Ukrainian battalions, plus some Bulgarian, Polish, Romanian, and Slovak units. Kuwait

Kurdish Democratic Party-5 brigades (2-4). Deploy west of the Irbil-Rawanduz road in the northern rough terrain.

Patriotic Union of Kurdistan-3 brigades (2-4). Deploy east of the Irbil-Rawanduz road in the northern rough terrain. The two Kurdish groups cannot stack, attack or defend with each other, or with the Turkomens and Turkey.

Turkomen-2 2-4 brigades. Deploy one hex south of the Iraq-Turkey border west of hex line 1200. They do not cooperate with the Kurds but do with Turkey.

Turkey-use the original game’s order of battle, but only 3 units can cross the border into Iraq. All units can participate. Turkish units cannot cooperate with the Kurds.

Shiites-1 1-3 battalion. Deploy one in a city or town south of Al Kut whenever that city is cleared of Iraqi units. Shiite Iraqis had little love for Saddam.


Armor divisions=7-10
Mechanized divisions=5-7-8
Infantry divisions=4-6-4

1st Army Corps
5th Mechanized Division in Karkuk
2nd Infantry Division in Irbil
8th Infantry Division in 1708
38th Infantry Division in 1809

2nd Army Corps
3rd Armored Division in 2014
15th Infantry Division in 2013
34th Infantry Division in Khanaquin

3rd Army Corps
6th Armored Division in 3028
51st Mechanized Division in Al Zibayir
11th Infantry Division in An Nasiriyah

4th Army Corps
10th Armored Division in 2825
14th Infantry Division in Al Amarah
18th Infantry Division in 2925

5th Army Corps
1st Mechanized Division in 1308
4th Infantry Division in 1204
7th Infantry Division in 1508
16th Infantry Division in Mosul

1st Republican Guard Corps
2nd Al Medina Armored Division (11-10) in Baghdad
7th Adnan Mechanized Division (9-10) in Tikrit
Al Abed Infantry Division (8-9-8) in Karkuk
5th Baghdad Mechanized Division (9-10) in Mosul

2nd Republican Guard Corps
Al Nida Armored Division (11-10) in Ba’qubah
1st Hammurabi Mechanized Division (9-10) in 1919
6th Nebuchadnezzar Mechanized Division (8-9-8) in Al Kut

Special Republican Guard Division (13-10) in Baghdad

7 Special Forces brigades (2-5) on any atomic, chemical or oil facility

Garrisons: each city or town has an intrinsic defense strength of 1. This represents the Fedayeen security and Baathist party forces.

Air Force
1 MiG-23 wing
1 Mirage F-1 squadron (use the 4-1-22 unit)
1 SU-20 wing
4 SAM brigades
2 SSM brigades

Deploy south of the Dukhan Dam and north of Al Hillah on any airfield. This represents a sampling of the Iraqi air force. The country had more planes than these, but most were unavailable.

Ansar al-Islam. 2 1-3 battalions in the mountains south of Baneh. This is an Islamic fundamentalist group financed by Iran and an enemy to both the Kurds and Iraq. It attacks the nearest unit automatically.


Ignore Allied LP rules. As Bay noted in his comments on the 1991 situation, the Allies could do whatever they wanted in this respect. The current situation should be the same.

Surrender Rule: There were American attempts to neutralize Iraqi commanders. When an American or British regiment or brigade moves next to an Iraqi unit, roll for surrender. On a roll of 1 (on a six sided die) the unit surrenders or deserts (remove from map). On a roll of 2, it retreats one hex. Flip it over. It can no longer attack for the rest of the game. For Republican Guard units, roll a 12 sided die. It surrenders on a 1, and retreats/flips on a 2. The Special and Adnan Republican Guard Units, and the air units do not roll for surrender.

Use the modified air rules in Moves 63. These are more realistic and actually simplify the game.

At the start of the game:

-Set the MVP count at 30 and the PP total at 50. Subtract 15 PP if the attack is made without UN approval (use either the chart in 20.3 or real life events).

-Iraq starts with 30 IQROPs and receives 25 IQPs per turn. Only one air unit can fly per turn.

-PP modifications: subtract 2 each time a city is attacked. This represents the political cost associated with higher casualties and civilian losses. Subtract 10 if more than six US army or marine divisions (3 brigades or regiments = 1 division. helicopter units do not count) are deployed in the game. With the US having only 13 active duty army or marine divisions, ongoing operations in Afghanistan, and North Korea being annoying, using a seventh division would limit US abilities.

-Twice during the game, Iraq may launch terrorist attacks, Iraq gains 5 MVPs but the US gains 5 PPs. This represents terrorist attacks and the probable jump in support for the war in that case.

-Double MVP loss for Iraq and double PPs gained if an Iraqi unit surrenders.

Victory conditions: The Coalition gets a Strategic Victory by occupying Al Kut, Al Najaf, Baghdad, Basra, Mosul, and Tikrit, and by deposing Saddam by coup. They get a Operational Victory by occupying Baghdad and any 3 of those cities, and by deposing Saddam. In both cases, the Coalition must have a positive PP total. Otherwise reduce to a Tactical Victory. The Coalition wins a Marginal Victory by occupying 4 cities, but Saddam survives. As a practical matter, this would end the political careers of Bush and Blair though. Iraq wins by avoiding those conditions, and automatically wins by reaching 120 MVPs at any time in the game.

Game Length: 30 Turns.


This system can be used for this campaign with the following modifications:

(1) Use the order of battle information presented above.

(2) To win, the Coalition must occupy Al Kut, Al Najaf, Baghdad, Basra, Karkuk, Mosul, and Tikrit for a Strategic Victory. For an Operational Victory: Baghdad and 4 of those cities; Tactical: Baghdad and 3 cities; Marginal: any 3 cities.

Iraq: Strategic: Coalition has occupied no cities; Tactical: 1 city lost; Marginal: 2 cities.

(3) Movement: Coalition can move as many units as it wants, and they can move at full speed inside Iraq. Iraq can move 6 units per turn.

(4) Coalition can use 6 air units in attacking or defending. Coalition air units may attack Iraqi air units. Use combat values as per the military game.

(5) Game Length 25 Turns

Thanks to Ron Walenciak and George Phillies for their help in preparing this.

Sources: Modern War # 6, Strategy & Tactics #139,,, and The Boston Globe March and April 2003.

This is a revised version of an article appearing in Strategist 34 (April 2003):1-4. Comments and other ideas welcome.




Nuclear Risk by Peter L. de Rosa

The Year of the Monkey: Tet 1968 by Peter L. de Rosa