War in The Gulf
On August 2, 1990 the world was surprised when the small country of Kuwait was seized by Iraq. The invasion was led by President Saddam Hussein. In only three days and over 100,000 troops, Saddam and his army had taken control of Kuwait City. When he took over Kuwait City there was no more use for the president and his family, so he put them into exile. He also took over the vast quantities of oil. For months, heads of state and diplomats from many countries tried to persuade Saddam to remove his troops from Kuwait and leave the country peacefully. His stubbornness convinced the United States and the United Nations to use military force against Saddam and his men. On January 16, 1991 United States and other United Nation coalition forces destroyed Iraq’s industrial and war making facilities, crushed the Iraqi army, and liberated Kuwait in just forty-three days.
In the darkness of Thursday, August 2, 1990, about 100,000 Iraqi troops crossed the border into their neighboring country Kuwait. When the soldiers marched across the boarder, it scared the small amounts of Kuwait’s boarder guards. The boarder guards were Kuwait’s only lines of defense against the strong Iraqi army. (Nardo, 28) The soldiers were supported by thousands of tanks, armored transports, armored vehicles, and artillery pieces.
It was still dark when the soldiers reached Kuwait city. Small groups of police and civilians armed with rifles fired at the Iraqi troops, but their weapons were no matches for the armored tanks that blasted at anything that moved. As the Iraqi troops neared the palace, the president ordered his family to go in the helicopter that was waiting. He made the decision to leave because he wanted to go to one of the neighboring countries for help. (Allen 67) President Al-Ahmad Al-Jabir As-Sabah’s younger brother wanted to stay behind to defend the palace. After, the president left, the palace was taken over and the younger brother and his helpers were dead in less than one hour.
The resistance the Kuwaitis fought was still no match for the army and could not get an organized army to fight the Iraqis. The Kuwaitis situation was hopeless they were scattered all over and had no chance. The Kuwaiti troops had very little training, unlike Saddam’s Republican Guards who were the elite military officers with good training and war experience. The Kuwaitis also face 55,000 of the Iraqi tanks. Of the 275 tanks the Kuwaitis had, about 200 were captured in the first hours of the invasion. The rest were destroyed by the Iraqi forces.
Many countries around the world did not approve of the invasion and were angered. The U.S. was especially mad. President George Bush called the invasion a “naked aggression” and ordered economic sanctions against Iraq. He froze 20,000,000,000 dollars that were in American banks. He also persuaded France and Britain to do the same. He did this to try to get Sadam out of Kuwait and back to Iraq. Next, Bush banned all oil imports from Iraq and trade.
Bush did not stop with the pressure to try to get Saddam out of Kuwait. As a warning, he ordered aircraft carrier USS Independence to be sent to the Persian Gulf, followed by 8 other war ships. This made Saddam reply “We swear,” he threatened, “that we will make the Gulf a graveyard for those who think about committing aggression, starting with these cowardly, American navies!” (Nardo 31)
When Saddam took over Kuwait he did not expect such a huge international crisis. His invasion made him look bad, especially to countries that supported him like United States, France, And the Soviet Union. In Saddam’s view he thought that leaving Kuwait would only hurt his image with the other Arab people. He said that backing down was cowardly and people would see him as a weak leader. He did not want people to see him as one because they thought him to be strong and would go against the odds. With this in his mind he again refused to leave Kuwait.
On August 7, 1990, President Bush ordered American troops to be sent to Saudi Arabia. “This will not stand,” Bush angrily told the press. “This will not stand, this aggression against Kuwait.” “We have to stand up to what is right, and condemn what is wrong!” (Allen 74)
Bush called the operation in Saudi Arabia, Operation Desert Shield. He sent 50,000 U.S. troops, and ordered 100,000 more to be shipped out to Saudi Arabia. Within hours of Bush’s order, squadrons of F-15 fighter planes and paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division were on their way to keep the peace in the Middle East. Special planes with radar and B-52 were fueled up and sent off to Saudi Arabia. To meet the B-52s were large amounts of F-111 bombers stationed in England and Turkey. There were also battleships being sent and aircraft carries to join in the Gulf.
The heavy equipment began to come in the Gulf. The 24th Mechanized Infantry Division arrived. The 24th “Mech.,” was based in Fort Stewart, Georgia, they took trains from Fort Stewart to Port Savanna. From there they embarked on the seven fastest cargo ships called sealift ships. The 2nd Armored and 1st Calvary Divisions met with the 101st Airborne Division. They all used sealift for the heavy equipment. The light gear and troops went by air.
On September 28, 1990, The Desert Shield Operation was at a peak with 90 ships at sea, with 69 more from the United States and Europe were on course for the Middle East and 21 empty cargo ships going back to get more cargo. If there was a ship evenly spaced from the U.S. to the Persian Gulf there would be a ship every 100 miles. When Phase II of Desert Shield began in November 1990 to build up a U.S. offensive force in the area, a peak of 172 ships at sea on a given day reached January (Allen 96).
When Bush got the approval of the U.N. to fight war in the Persian Gulf, he lashed out at Saddam. He called him ” A classic bully who thinks he can get away with kicking sand in the face of the world.” President Bush promised that if force was necessary, “The Allies won’t pull any punches.” .(Triumph 94) He told the people the fighting will not be like Vietnam, it will be swift and massive, much like Germany’s Blitzkrieg. Bush did not want to give the impression that he wanted war so he sent Secretary of State James Baker to meet with Trarik Aziz on January 9, 1991 in Geneva, Switzerland.
The meeting was about to take place and the world was watching as Baker and Aziz talked. After hours of discussing and talking, many hoped that Baker had achieved an agreement. The hopes were too high, because the meeting ended in a stalemate. Aziz continued to say, “We will leave only if the Israelis give back the land the Arabs lost in the Arab-Israeli war.” Baker said he could not do it and then went on to say, “The choice is Iraq’s” he warned, “If it should choose to continue its brutal occupation of Kuwait, then Iraq will be choosing military confrontation which it can not win and which will have devastating consequences for Iraq.” Aziz countered that comment and made one off his own; he said that the U.S. did not want peace. He told Baker that Arabs would not fight Arabs. In the final moments the Arabs would abandon them and leave them in the desert. The final thing he said was that the Iraqis is use to fighting on the sands, and they would easily beat the U.S.. Aziz also promised that if the Allied forces attacked, then Iraq would fire on Israel. .(Triumph 97)
“An anguished and deeply divided Congress on Saturday gave President Bush the authority to wage war in the Persian Gulf, and leading lawmakers urged national unity in the wake of the vote. Bush called it a clear signal that Iraq “cannot scorn the January 15 deadline.””(Congress 1)
As the last minutes of the deadline ticked away tensions increased as the Iraqis did not respond and remained stationed in Kuwait. The Iraqis were in trenches and concrete bunkers that lined the border on Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The Iraqis wonder if the allied forces would attack at twelve or wait until the break at dawn. At the main Allied base in Duran, the Allies were keeping a watchful eye on the Iraqi positions. They knew that an attack of Iraqi planes and Scud-Bs could be coming at any minute. Pilots stood by in their fight suits ready at any minute to jump in their planes and go.
In the United States and in other countries, the people could not sleep. They sat at the TVs waiting to hear that that war was waged. They waited , but nothing had happened. The next day dragged on. Many people thought in was a bluff and nothing was going to happen, but shortly after 7:00 in the evening a news bulletin came. President Bush’s spokesmen, Marlin Fitzwater broke the news. Operation Desert Storm had begun.
The allied planes roared down the runway in Saudi Arabia and from the decks in the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. The F-15s, F-117As, A-7Es, and more were to converge on Iraq and bomb Baghdad. The first goal of Desert Storm was to eliminate the radar and communication centers. The radar was important to hit because once it is destroyed, the planes can come in undetected. Another reason is the anti-aircraft guns would have no way of knowing when the jets come without the radar.
The jets carrying EMCs jammed the Iraqi radar while the others bombers honed in on the radar installations and destroyed them. The bombers took the ground station radar and their warplane’s radar, leaving the Iraqis “blind” and helpless. This made the Iraqis incapable of detecting, or destroying the huge air attack. A few of the Iraqi got visual contact of the allied planes, but were destroyed immediately. The little remaining planes of the Iraqi airforce flew north back to Iraq.
With most of Iraq’s radar completely wiped-out and their airforce on the run, Allied bombers were free of bombing targets without the fear of being shot down. The newly advanced F-117A Stealth bombers streaked though the sky and annihilated Iraqi communications, chemical plants, and nuclear research labs. The British Tornado jets swooped low over Iraqi airfields, destroying hangers and put huge holes in the runways to make them unusable. American warships in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea launched more than 100 Tomahawk cruise missiles, equipped with special computers that show detailed maps of Iraq and the distance the missile needs to travel. With deadly accuracy the cruise missile destroyed many targets needed to win the war.
In the first few hours, dozens of Allied warplanes converged on Baghdad, striking center of Iraqi war efforts, defense ministry, presidential palace, and the airport. Hundreds of anti-aircraft guns mounted on top of buildings, opened fire on the incoming attackers. The guns were useless, advanced Allied planes were to fast and to high for the guns to hit them. The anti-aircraft gun lit up the sky with the glow of the streaking bullets. At the same time the Allied bombed lit the grounds with an eerie glow each times the hit the target.
While Baghdad was being pounded, the Apache Helicopters hover over the deserts of Kuwait looking for bunkers and troops with advanced lasers. When they found their targets, the Apaches would blow them away with the powerful 30mm cannon or powerful rockets. To the north B-52s rained terror on Saddam’s elite Republican Guards and blew up their underground bunkers.
“The United States and allies pounded Iraq with two waves of air strikes today. In a furious bid to drive Saddam Hussein armies from Kuwait and break his military might.”
“”We will not fail”, a somber President Bush told the nation.”
“Saddam apparently survived a night of fire that rained down his capital.
As the misty, smoked-shrouded day dawned in Baghdad, he spat defiance at the allied armies in a radio message from an undisclosed location.”(Winter 1)
In a Radio broadcast on January 17, Saddam responded to the attack, it was not with military force but with a statement to the people. He waged war in words and threats. He called upon the Iraqis to fight back against the invaders. He said “The mother of all battles has begun.” He also branded President Bush “The Satan of the White House.”
He also unleashed a counterattack that shocked the world. It was against Israel, for months he had been warning the people about his attack. Around 2:00 A.M. he order the launch of the Scud-Bs. The Israeli defense picked them up and ordered the people to prepare for impact. Israel was not sure if it was a chemical or normal missile, so they put on gas masks and chemical gear issued by the government. In the early morning the sound of eight Scuds came roaring into the city. Of the eight, all of them detonated on impact. The highly inaccurate Scuds hit inefficient targets and no fatalities and only fifteen injuries. (Nardo 64)
The Israelis are known for their swift counterattacks, but they held back at the request of Bush. He thought if they did fight back then the Arabs would be upset and leaves the coalition. Bush convinced the president and said he would hunt down the Scuds and destroy them.
The U.S. used missiles to destroy the incoming Scuds. The Patriot missile used radar to see incoming missiles and know the exact distance. The Patriots were half the size of the Scud, but three times as fast. If the radar detected a Scud within 42 miles, the Patriot will intercept it by destroying the Scuds. The Patriot was first used in the Gulf War and proved very effective.
Saddam used largely ineffective moves to try to prove to the other Arab countries that he can fight. On January 29 he ordered his several thousand troops to cross the border and take over the abandoned city of Kafji, Saudi Arabia. This move made no sense to the military officials, because this town had no strategic significance. He was again desperately trying to show his Arab supporters that he could go on the offensive. Once the Allies heard that news, tanks and heavy artillery rolled in and shelled the city to nothing. The Allied forces called Saddam’s move suicidal and made no sense.(Triumph 123)
The overall plan of the Allied attack was to move northward into southeastern Iraq, to cut off Kuwait from Iraq. This was a plan of deception and the Allies relied on it. For months before the attack General Schwarzkopf, General Powell, and other Allied commanders decided to leave their armies at the border of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. They did this to try to trick the Iraqis into thinking they are going to attack on the border. At the last minute, the Allied forces shifted the troops and tanks west, south of Iraq. The Iraqis were not aware of these moves, because they did not have spotter planes that could report changes in the position of the enemy. General Schwarzkopf also stationed 18,000 U.S. Marines near the Persian Gulf so the Iraqis thought there would be a water attack, so the Iraqis would stationed more troops near the Gulf.
The first set of troops swept upward into Iraq. They went above the heavily guarded area of the Republican Guards. They came in Iraq with thousands of tanks, tens of thousands America and British troops, hundreds of armored vehicles, Apache helicopters, and A-10 tank killers. Within hours they penetrated deep into Iraq and moved toward the back of the heavily armored Republican Guards.
Meanwhile, farther east, thousands of American helicopters and thousands of French troops moved into central Iraq towards the Euphrates River. When they arrived the troops quickly fortified the area to prevent Iraqis from coming out of Kuwait. These moves completely cut off Kuwait and southeastern Iraq from the rest of Iraq. Saddam’s armies near and in Kuwait were trapped by the Allied forces.
While the others Allied troops swept into Iraq, a force of Americans, Saudis, Egyptians, and Syrians launched a lightning attack into southern Kuwait. Hundreds of tanks rolled across the border and opened fire on the Iraqi desert positions. More than 50,000 Allied troops followed the tanks in to Kuwait. The soldiers were tense and ready to throw on gas masks and chemical gear when needed. The chemical warfare that everyone feared never came. In fact, there was little or no resistance from the Iraqis in Kuwait. (Allen 203)
There was little resistance because night after night the Iraqis were huddled in little, dusty bunkers, because of the relentless bombing of the B-52s. The bombers would fly low and unleash their huge payload on the bunkers. With that at hand the Iraqi soldiers in the southern part of Kuwait surrendered to the Allied forces. There were more then five thousand Iraqi soldiers eager to surrender because of their little food and water.
Now aware that the Allies were headed to Kuwait City, the Iraqis went on a rampage. They burned many houses, raped women, and looted homes and stores. Thinking the Allies were going to be a few days, the Iraqis stayed and looted some more. When they decided to leave the troops took their stolen goods and put it into cars, buses, or whatever they could find. When the Iraqis left the Allied forces intercepted them with their tanks and forces, they blew everything away that moved.
At the Kuwait City airport, Iraqi soldiers tried to stop the incoming Marines that poured into the airport. The Marines circled on them and opened fire. Many died trying to run from building to building to get cover. The remaining survivors saw the situation was hopeless and surrendered. In the next few hours some Iraqis ran for the desert, but they were either killed or captured. In three days of fighting to retake the airport and the capital, only five American soldiers died in the massacre.
When the city was freed of Iraqi soldiers, the Americans waited on the outskirts for the other Arabs forces to arrive and officially claim back the city. When the Arab forces arrived in the city, the Americans waited a few hours. When they returned, the city was very happy and jumped on the American tanks to give them kisses. They also yelled thanks to President Bush and the other Presidents. The crowd also chanted “Down with Saddam, down with Saddam!” People everywhere fire rifles in the air to celebrate the freeing of the city.
When the people in Kuwait City were celebrating the Allied forces were moving closer to the Republican Guards. The largest tank battle was since WWII was about to begin in southern Iraq. The massive U.S. Army 7th Corps had more than one thousand tanks, one thousand armored carriers, and followed by tens of thousands of American and British troops. They traveled over 200 miles in less then two days. This operation was made possible by the trucks and helicopters that ferried over 5,000 tons of ammunition, fueled over 555,000 gallons of gas, 300,000 gallons of water, and brought 80,000 meals into the battle zone.
In the desert 15 miles west of the city Basra, the two armies clashed. The American tanks drew up and circled around the Republican Guards and opened fire. The Iraqis returned fire the best they could. But they were not as well trained in maneuvering large groups of tanks as the Americans. Also the Iraqis aging Soviet-made T-55 tanks were no match for more than 800 U.S. M-1A1 high-tech tanks that closed in on the Iraqis. With deadly precision, the laser guided shells of the M-1A1 made direct hits on the Iraqi tanks, trucks, and artillery.
At the same time the tanks were going at it, the Apache helicopters and A-10 attack planes pounded the Iraqis from the air. The tanks exploded into huge fire balls. Most of the Republican Guards inside the tanks were instantly burned to death. The few that survived the hits ran out screaming and into hails of bombs and flying bullets.
By morning the ten hour, bloody battle was over. The remaining survivors surrendered. The rest lay smashed in their destroyed tank in the battle field. Fewer than 20 American died and no tanks or armored vehicles were destroyed. President Bush announced “Kuwait is liberated. Iraq’s army is defeated. Our military objectives are complete. America and the world drew a line in the sand. We declared the aggression in Kuwait would not stand, and tonight America and the world have kept their word.” (Nardo 81)
When Saddam took over the small country of Kuwait he shocked the world. The U.S. replied to his invasion by using military force. In just 100 hours, the Allied ground offensive had cut off Kuwait from Iraq, freed the Kuwaiti people, and crushed the Iraqi army. During the 43 day war, the Iraqi estimated 50,000 dead, 50,000 or more wounded, and more than 125,000 taken captured. By comparison, the Allied combined suffered only 177 killed, 597 wounded, and fewer than 60 taken prisoner. The war was over and still today there is not peace in the Middle East. (Allen 209)
Allen, Thomas B. War in the Gulf. Atlanta: Turner Publishing, 1991
Nardo, Don. The Persian Gulf War. San Diego: Lucent Books Inc, 1991
Triumph Without Victory. New York: U.S. News and World Report, 1992
Winter, Brian. “”Desert Storm” attacks in the dark, again in dawn.” Arizona Daily
Sun 16 Jan, 1991: 1
“Congress gives OK, but shows division.” Arizona Daily Sun 14 Jan. 1991: 1
Deese, David A. “Persian Gulf War.” The World Book Encyclopedia. 1996 Ed.