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Operation Desert Storm

Operation Desert Storm

If you’re a history or a military buff you’re probably familiar with these three words; Operation Desert Storm. If, however, these three words mean nothing to you, then let us elaborate. Operation Desert Storm was the first major foreign crisis for the US after the Cold War ended on December 3rd, 1989.

Military men walking while armed with helicopters in the background

The operation involved partners from over 31 nations, most of whom the United States remains in good standing with to this day. Though this operation is deemed as complete, effects from this time period still affect the United States Military troops, their missions, and current standings to this day (2021).

To completely understand and pay tribute to this foreign affair, we will be taking a look back at the well-known, Operation Desert Storm.

Why Did It Happen?!

It all started with Saddam Hussein. Once the Iran-Iraq War was over in the 1980’s it became clear that Iraq was in debit to not only Kuwait but also the United Arab Emirates. This was because these two nations had financially backed the war, and now it was time for Iraq to pay back what it was that they owed.

At the time Saddam Hussein was President of Iraq and he felt as though the debit should be looked over and canceled. His reasoning be due to the fact that he felt these two countries owed him and Iraq for doing their due-diligence and protecting them both from Iran throughout the entire war.

Of course, both countries refused, noting that this was a failed attempted at trying to cancel a debt that Iraq was simply not in the position to pay back at the time. Well, we can all acknowledge that his clearly did not sit well with the President. Not one bit.

Beachfront with a explosion occurring in the background

In July of 1990, Hussein claim that both countries were producing crude oil and driving down the price of it each and every week, leading to a shortage of oil for Iraq, a crucial necessity during this time. Not only that, but Hussein also then blamed Kuwait for stealing oil off of the oil field that lined the Iraq-Kuwait border and blamed the United States and Israel for pressuring and encouraging this country to then lower its oil prices.

Pressure boiled, tension built, and in August of 1990, Hussein has Iraq invade and annex Kuwait. To prevent things from getting worse and as a way to pressure Hussein to pull his forces back, the United Nations Security Council placed an embargo on Iraq. This only lead tensions to rise higher, and so, months later on January 17th, 1991, Operation Desert Shield became Operation Desert Storm.

Coalition of the Willing: A Partnership Worth Noting

Oddly enough, before Iraq invaded Kuwait, over 40 countries entered into a nonbinding agreement against Iraq. This agreement was known as the Coalition of the Willing and it was created by the Bush administration as a way to highlight the countries who supported the invasion of Iraq and supported an alliance against Iraq.

Coalition of the Willing

This partnership included NATO allies, the United States, the Soviet Union, and several Arab nations. With this partnership having been found, it was clear that Iraq was not only in over their head but would have a great deal of leaders and military troops to answer to. This is when things got interesting.

In Come the Pilots

Operation Desert Storm consisted of two campaigns: Air and Ground. On January 17th, 1991, Desert Shield turned into Desert Storm when the air campaign began. The US had 9 AH-64 Apache helicopters and 4 Air Force MH-53 Pave Low special operation helicopters fly fast and low over Baghdad, opening fire at 0236.

Helicopters flying over a war zone with the sun setting in the background. Operation desert storm

This helped to destroy Iraqi radar sites and know out the associated anti-aircraft guns. Most importantly, this helped to create a twenty-mile gap between the Iraqi air defense network and opened up a corridor. This space was used to pummel Iraqi positions and supply lines. Plus, there were massive B-52 strikes which easily devastated the Iraqi troops and their will to fight. Safe to say from the air, the pilots, troops, and teams were cultivating a successful mission.

Let the Ground War Begin

Though the “air fight” was successful, it was still beneficial for there to be work completed on the ground. On February 24th, 1991, the ground war officially began.

To ensure those on the ground did not feel as though they were going in blind, air troops flew deep past the enemy lines and gathered intelligence to be used by the troops. The noteworthy fight began in terrible weather with the Airborne Corps making a run around the open right flank of the Iraqi Army. Simultaneously, the US and its allied forced attacked directly towards the north narrowing in towards Kuwait City.

Operation desert storm. Marines, army, and airforce all fighting together in Iraq

At the same time as well, forces pushed in from north of Saudi Arabia. These troops consisted of the Marine Corps unites and the Tiger Brigade. In just one day, all troops had pushed deep into Iraqi, devastating their army and once again, their will to keep fighting.

Moving Ahead of Schedule: The Invasion Continues

Within 24 hours the teams had moved ahead of schedule when it came to invading and infiltrating the Iraqi Army. Therefore, many teams decided to push ahead of schedule and continue on their fight, hoping and willing that the end of this operation was near.

It was during this time that one of the most decisive actions of the war occurred. The VII Corps decided to attack the elite and well-known Iraqi Republican Guard Units. This move, along with the VII corps hitting the Tawakalna Division, overwhelmed the enemy.

In the early afternoon of the 27th of February, the VII Corps then hit the Medina Division at the Battle of Medina Ridge. This was the first time that the troops had encountered an “attempt” of an Iraqi ambush in which the outcome was over 300 enemy tanks being destroyed.

It Only Took 100 Hours

What most people don’t know is that Operation Desert Storm was a very short-lived mission. As we’ve mentioned before, many troops and teams were way ahead of schedule within the first 24 hours. This only brought up momentum and caused a downward spiral for the Iraqi troops.

Within 100 hours, the US and their allied teammates decisively defeated the dangerous enemy; the Iraqi soldiers. At this time, both the ground and air forces had accomplished destroying over 3,000 tanks, 1,400 armored carriers, and 2,200 artillery pieces.

It cost the US over 100 soldiers, 2 of whom died due to their wounders and 105 non-hostile deaths. 

Rebuilding of Kuwait

On February 28th, 1991, Operation Desert Storm was complete. Kuwait was liberated, the Iraqi soldiers had retreated and officially lost, and the US were deemed as heroes. Rather than heading back to the United States however, the US troops decided to stay put and turn their actions into humanitarian missions.

Here, the US, along with their allies assist Kuwait in rebuilding and reoccupying their city. Engineers helped to set up water, food and fuel distribution while also setting up medical clinics to help the people of Kuwait.

Military medical center in Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm

Once a good standing had occurred in Kuwait, many of the US Army Combats began to head home as this operation of war had easily turned into a force for peace.

What is Happening Now?!

Unfortunately, Operation Desert Storm has been overshadowed by the most recent Iraq War, especially since many American Soldiers have left the country earlier this year. But it is worth remembering the almost 300 lives that were cost during this short-lived battle.

Air force woman walking away from her helicopter

To date, the partnership known as the Coalition of the Willing are still in good standing today. Due to recent events and wars that have involved Iraq, one can only hope that this partnership and the country’s ally relationship will stay in good standing.  Though, it is worth noting that since this operation, many of the relationships have become slightly fragile.

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