Frederick M. Franks, Jr.

Frederick M. Franks, Jr.

Infobox Military Person
name=Frederick M. Franks
born= birth year and age|1936
placeofbirth= West Lawn, Pennsylvania

caption=General Frederick M. Franks
allegiance= United States of America
branch= United States Army
rank= General
commands=Troop I, 3rd Reconnaissance Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment 1st Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment VII Corps Training and Doctrine Command
battles=Vietnam War Operation Desert Shield/Storm
awards= Silver Star Distinguished Flying Cross Bronze Star with V Device Air Medal Purple Heart
laterwork=Board of Directors, Oshkosh Truck Corporation, author, consultant, public speaker

Frederick Melvin Franks, Jr. is a retired General of the United States Army. He is considered a military visionary and a distinguished combat commander, famous for having commanded the Gulf War coalition VII Corps in the highly successful "Left Hook" maneuver against fourteen Iraqi divisions, a number of whom were Iraqi Republican Guard, defeating or forcing the retreat of each with fewer than 100 American casualties lost to enemy action, a feat unmatched in modern warfare.

Early life

Born Frederick M. Franks, Jr. in West Lawn, Pennsylvania. Fred Franks graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York in 1959. After attending the Armor Officer Basic Course, Airborne, and Ranger training, he joined the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Germany. This was followed by an assignment as an instructor at West Point in the 1960s.

Vietnam War

Following his duty at West Point, Franks rejoined the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, now stationed in Vietnam. In a period of intense combat, Fred Franks earned the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star with V Device, the Air Medal, and two Purple Hearts. While fighting in Cambodia he was severely wounded, and after a series of unsuccessful surgeries, lost his left leg, which was amputated below the knee. Franks fought to remain in a combat unit, something not normally granted amputees, and was eventually permitted to remain in combat arms.

Through the 1980s Franks served with the Army Staff in the Pentagon, command of the 1st Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment at Fort Bliss, served in the Office of the Army Chief of Staff, spent a year at the national War College, held several high-level positions in the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command, and finally, command of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, then assigned to the East German frontier as the V Corps covering force.

Following his promotion to brigadier general, in 1984, his flag-level assignments included commanding General, Seventh Army Training Command, Deputy Commanding General, United States Army Command and General Staff College, and Director of Operational Plans and Interoperability (J-7), where he effectively integrated, for the first time, all joint staff operational planning, interoperability and warfighting functions within a single directorate of the Joint Staff, resulting in significant increases in the joint warfighting capabilities of the United States. In 1988, Franks again returned to Germany to command the 1st Armored Division, and a year later he assumed command of VII Corps.

Gulf War

In early November, 1990, Franks was ordered to deploy the VII Corps to Saudi Arabia to join the international coalition preparing to drive Iraqi forces from Kuwait; and on 24 February 1991, the Desert Storm land assault began, with VII Corps making the main attack. VII Corps consisted of 146,000 American and British soldiers in essentially 5 armored divisions (one was a mechanized infantry division and one was a cavalry division). This consisted of close to 1600 tanks, American and British, and 800 helicopters. Supporting this was its support command and vital logistics support command comprising over 26,000 soldiers and 15 hospitals. In total, VII Corps consumed over 2 million gallons of fuel a day. In 100 hours of rapid maneuver and combat, VII Corps fought and won a great battle in the desert sands of Iraq. Under Franks' leadership, VII Corps units gained decisive victories at the Battle of Al Busayyah, the Battle of 73 Easting, the Battle of Norfolk and the Battle of Medina Ridge.

Controversy arose during and after the ground war over the pace at which VII Corps advanced. On the second day of the ground war General Norman Schwarzkopf publicly expressed frustration over what he characterized as VII Corps' slow pace, allowing elements of the Republican Guard to escape destruction by fleeing toward Basra. Schwarzkopf said that "The window of opportunity is rapidly slamming shut." Certain Victory, the official Army summary on the war, said, "By the 28th (of February, the third day of the ground war), with the exception of the Hammurabi Division, the majority of the remaining Guard armor had already reached or passed through the Basra sanctuary en route to positions well inside Iraq." Franks tells the story in his own words in the book, written with Tom Clancy, Into the Storm, which contradicts some arguments made by Schwarzkopf in his own autobiography It Doesn't Take a Hero.

Later service and post-retirement

Following the Gulf War Franks was promoted to full General, and took over the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command. He retired in 1994 after almost 35 and a half years of active Army service. Franks now serves as chairman of the board of the VII Corps Desert Storm Veterans Association, which assists veterans and next of kin of those who served in VII Corps during Desert Storm. He has also collaborated with Tom Clancy on a book, Into the Storm: a Study in Command. He works with the U. S. Army's Battle Command Training Program for senior tactical commanders and staffs teaching battle command in seminars and simulated war games. He also works as a consultant, speaks publicly on leadership, and teaches senior level battle command at military schools in the United States and United Kingdom. He serves on the Board of Directors of Oshkosh Truck Corporation, Customer Advisory Board for United Defense Corporation, and the Board of Trustees of the U.S. Military Academy.

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