Operation Desert Shield/Storm
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The 1990-91 Gulf War/Desert Shield/Storm
The 1990-91 Persian Gulf War was an international conflict in response to Iraq’s invasion and annexation of Kuwait. In anticipation of a conflict to liberate Kuwait, the U.S. and an allied Coalition of 34 nations began a military buildup codenamed Operation Desert Shield. The Coalition included the U.S., The UK, France and Saudi Arabia, among other nations. The buildup was begun by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia in August 1990 and continued through January 1991 at which time Coalition troops at the ready numbered 750,000 and included 540,000 U.S. personnel.
The Southwest Asia theater of operations is generally defined as the area that includes the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden, that portion of the Arabian Sea that lies north of 10 degrees N. latitude and west of 68 degrees E. longitude, as well as the total land areas of Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates.
Coalition attacks on Iraqi forces began with a massive six-week air and naval bombardment campaign on January 17, 1991, aimed at targets within Iraq. In response, Saddam Hussein launched Scud missiles at targets within Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Qatar. This combat phase was codenamed Operation Desert Storm.
The bombardment phase was followed by a ground assault on February 23, 1991. The ground assault was codenamed Operation Desert Sabre, but it is often referred to as a second phase of Operation Desert Storm. U.S. troops engaged in heavy battles against the Iraqi forces, including fierce tank battles and breaching minefields. As Coalition forces advanced into Kuwait, many of the remaining Iraqi troops there surrendered to Coalition forces. Others set fire to 600-700 oil wells in Kuwait as they retreated into Iraq.
Coalition forces also advanced into Iraq through the western frontier with Saudi Arabia, outflanking and encircling the retreating Iraqi military. The outcome was a decisive victory for the Coalition forces. By the time that President George H.W. Bush declared a cease-fire to the Gulf War (GW) on February 28, 1991, most Iraqi forces in Kuwait had either surrendered or fled. By July 1991, the last U.S. troops who had participated in the ground war returned home. U.S. forces experienced 147 casualties on the battlefield and an additional 145 personnel were killed by non-battle related causes.
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