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GULF WAR: 25-YEAR ANNIVERSARY

By Steven Beardsley

Stars and Stripes


Gulf War: 25th year anniversary



By God we’ve kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all!”


When President George H.W. Bush finished a speech with those words on March 1, 1991, the U.S. was flush with the completeness of its victory in Iraq—an overwhelming air campaign, a 100-hour ground war whose speed and domination left even veteran tankers breathless and a Middle Eastern ally grateful for an American rescue.


The U.S. had just won the Cold War in Europe. Now it had prevailed in a hot war in the Middle East, while taking few casualties and establishing American dominance among one of the world’s most important regions. Above all, the war was popular at home, its troops welcomed back warmly.


American power appeared to be at its zenith.


Yet where some saw victory, others saw a job unfinished. And where some in the Middle East thanked the U.S. for its help, others thought it was time for the Americans to go home. The seeds of the next war in Iraq were planted in part in 1991, and future victories there would prove much more elusive.





MEDINA RIDGE

DECEPTION

WAR'S LEGACY

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When Army Maj. Fred Wellman led his men out of Iraq in 2004, the executive officer of the 6th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, searched intently along the side of the desert highway leading south to Kuwait.


Sure enough, sand-covered carcasses of Iraqi vehicles from the Persian Gulf War were still strewn along the highway’s edges.


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Timeline of the Gulf War


  1. Iraq invades Kuwait

    Aug. 2, 1990

    Iraqi soldiers seize control of Kuwait and threaten to raze the nation if not left alone. The U.S. responds by sending the aircraft carrier USS Independence to the Persian Gulf.

  2. Bush takes a stand

    Aug. 5, 1990

    President George H.W. Bush, during a press conference held regarding the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait just days prior says, "This will not stand. This will not stand, this aggression against Kuwait."

  3. Plans drawn for counterattack

    Sept. 18, 1990

    Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf (pictured above) asks Army planners to begin work on ground offensive.

  4. U.N. resolution 678 passed

    November 29, 1990

    The U.N. Security Council authorizes use of "all means necessary" to eject Iraq from Kuwait. Iraq is given a deadline of Jan. 15, 1991 to withdraw all forces from the neighboring country.

  5. U.S. arrives in force

    Dec. 6, 1990

    First ship carrying VII Corps equipment arrives in Saudi Arabia. Days prior more American forces, namely these troops from the 6th Marine Regiment, began trickling into the region.

  6. Peace talks fail

    Jan. 9, 1991

    U.S. Secretary of State James Baker meets with Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz in Geneva in an unsuccessful effort to find a peaceful solution.

  7. Congress passes measures

    Jan. 12, 1991

    U.S. Congress authorizes use of force in Iraq. "May God bless and guide us and help us in the fateful days that lie ahead," said House Speaker Thomas J. Foley during the session.

  8. Desert Storm begins

    Jan. 17, 1991

    American-led forces launch an air attack against Baghdad, marking the beginning of Operation Desert Storm. President Bush declares, "The liberation of Kuwait has begun."

  9. Up in flames

    Jan. 22, 1991

    Iraqi forces set fire to Kuwaiti oil wells. Here, the fires rage outside Kuwait City in the aftermath of the Iraqi retreat from the area.

  10. Saudi Arabia invaded

    Jan. 29, 1991

    Iraqis seize Saudi town of Khafji. Twelve U.S. Marines are killed in action protecting the town. They were the first American combat casualties of the Gulf War.

  11. Khafji liberated

    Feb. 1, 1991

    U.S. and Saudi troops recapture Khafji in what is known to be the first sustained ground-fighting operation lead by the coalition.

  12. Coalition fights in Saudi

    Feb. 24, 1991

    U.S. and coalition forces invade Iraq and Kuwait. In the first 10 hours of the invasion, coalition troops take more than 5,000 prisoners, many who surrendered without a fight.

  13. Strike kills 28 Americans

    Feb. 25, 1991

    Iraqi Scud missile strikes American barracks near Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing 28 U.S. troops.

  14. Saddam flees

    Feb. 26, 1991

    Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein orders withdrawal from Kuwait. U.S. aircraft kill nearly 1,000 Iraqis on the Highway of Death.

  15. Medina Ridge

    Feb. 27, 1991

    In the largest tank battle in U.S. military history, 1st Armored Division troops defeat Iraqi Republican Guard at the Battle of Medina Ridge.

  16. Cease fire

    Feb. 28, 1991

    President Bush announces cease-fire, saying "Kuwait is liberated. Iraq's army is defeated." This marks the official end of the Gulf War.

  17. Iraq surrenders

    March 1, 1991

    Coalition and Iraqi commanders negotiate the final cease-fire in Safwan, Iraq, ending one chapter in the still ongoing conflict in the Middle East.




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