To all my military brothers and sisters: it was a privilege to serve with you. It was a comfort to know that on any mission, we covered each other’s backs. Conflict has been a part of living since the world began. Death claims the same space. This article is to remember all who served, either stateside or away, and to particularly remember those who did not safely return.
On July 17, 1990, Saddam Hussein accused Kuwait of oil overproduction, resulting in theft of oil from the Rumalia Oil Field. Eight days later, April Glaspie, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, told Hussein that the dispute was an Arab matter between Iraq and Kuwait, not one that affected the United States. On August 2, Iraq invaded Kuwait. President Bush immediately froze Iraqi and Kuwatti assets, and the United Nations advised Hussein to withdraw.
August 7 saw Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney visit Saudi Arabia. The 82nd Airborne and several fighter squadrons were dispatched for Operation Desert Shield. It was a cultural shock for American troops, who were now subject to cultural restrictions of a primarily Muslim county. In appeared retaliation, Iraq annexed Kuwait the next day. Despite censures and admonitions, Iraq maintained its posture.
August 22 brought a call up of the reserves by President Bush. On November 8, additional deployments were increased to give what Bush called the “offensive option” to US forces. By November 29, the UN Security Council authorized the use of force if Iraq did not withdraw from Kuwait by January 15, 1991.
The dawn of day, January 16, Desert Shield becomes Operation Desert Storm. Iraq gave no indication of withdrawing from Kuwait, and active U.S. Forces were sent to Saudi Arabia, with a primary mission of freeing Kuwait. An assault by air began in an attempt to encourage Iraq to withdraw their troops. By January 30, 1991, there were over 500,000 US troops in the Gulf.
On February 23, an allied ground assault consisting of Marines, Army and Arab forces began moving through Kuwait and into Iraq. The air and ground war, combined with the economic embargo, eliminated much of Iraq’s power and resources.
By February 27, President Bush was able to order a cease fire effective midnight Kuwaiti time.
March 3 recognized a formal acceptance by Iraqi leaders of the cease fire terms. The first US troops arrived home March 8, 1991. Iraq officially accepted cease-fire terms from the United Nations in April 2001.
Desert Storm.com, Operation Desert Storm
Global Security.org, Operation Desert Storm
Third World Traveler, Whatever happened to April Glaspie?
Gulf War 20th Anniversary, Department of Veterans Affairs.