Tapline [Main]

The role of the Tapline Road in the "Gulf War"

Excerpt from "Ronald A. Hoskinson's Gulf War Diary"

"On January 12, [1991]. I uploaded only one howitzer, but MAJ Currid (the battalion XO) directed me to trail the HET convoy that was going to KKMC at 1000 hours. My mission, of course, was to keep the unreliable civilian HET drivers focused on getting their cargo to KKMC as quickly as possible. The first problem the convoy encountered occurred on Route "Mercedes" less than 30 miles north of AA Horse. A HET carrying a B Battery howitzer ran off the road; apparently, the driver was more concerned about lighting a cigarette than driving, and lost control of his vehicle. I got them back on the road as quickly as possible, and then chased after the rest of the convoy, which by then had reached the MP traffic control point at An Nai'riyah and turned onto the infamous "Tapline Road".

The Tapline Road was the major east-west two lane highway running the length of Saudi Arabia from the Persian Gulf in the east to Jordan in the west. It was so named because it paralleled the oil tapline that was used to pump oil from Persian Gulf petroleum fields to other points throughout the country. The Tapline Road was, on average, only 50 kilometers from Saudi Arabia's northern border; as a result, it was what the military calls "key terrain"; it was also the theater east-west MSR (major supply route).

The traffic on the Tapline Road was so heavy that it quickly earned the nickname "Suicide Alley." The combination of coalition military traffic and Saudi civilian traffic made traffic conditions there insane. It seemed as though safety was not a word in anybody's vocabulary. Big tractor trailers tearing down the highway at 80 mph; soldiers and civilians alike passing vehicles recklessly on a narrow two lane highway with a lot of oncoming traffic. As we made the left hand turn onto the Tapline road, it started pouring, the first rain since I arrived in Saudi Arabia 3 months ago. Other than that, the long march went pretty smoothly until 2300 hours, when the HET carrying one of my howitzers threw its fan blade into its radiator, causing it to break down. With the HET disabled, we downloaded the howitzer, and drove it to MCP (maintenance control point) "Colorado." There, I instructed the section chief to wait for a replacement HET, and I got back into my HMMWV and proceeded on to KKMC."

Gulf War photos

(From The US Army Homepage)

The following photographs were taken during Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM by the XVIII Airborne Corps History Office, and are representative of the types of photographic products generated during combat and contingency operations as historical evidence by the Army's historical program.


Forward Landing Strip (FLS) constructed from a portion of the Trans-Arabian Pipeline Road southeast of Rafha in the Northern Province of Saudi Arabia. Photograph was taken from the south on 4 February 1991 and shows an Air Force C-130H Hercules transport on the parking apron. The strip supported Logistical Base CHARLIE and extended from MT 17653576 to MT 19683431; a parallel road diverted vehicle traffic using the Tapline Road as Main Supply Route DODGE. (XVIII Airborne Corps photograph DS-F-148-31 by PFC John F. Freund)


Aerial view of the city of Rafha in the Northern Province of Saudi Arabia on 4 February 1991. Photograph shows the view from south of the Trans-Arabian Pipeline Road. (XVIII Airborne Corps photograph DS-F-146-31 by MAJ Robert K. Wright, Jr.)