Sunday, December 30, 2012

Desert Storm Commanding General Norman Schwarzkopf Passes Away At Age 78

Retired General H. Norman Schwarzkopf passed away from complications from pneumonia in Tampa, FL on Thursday at the age of 78.

Nicknamed 'stormin Norman', Schwarzkopf was a 1956 graduate of West Point, served two tours in Vietnam and was named commander of the US Central Command facilities at McDill AFB in Tampa, FL.

In 1990, when Saddam Hussein's forces invaded Kuwait, Schwarzkopf convinced Saudi monarch King Fahd to allow the Arabian peninsula to be used as a staging area for American troops to counterattack and drive Iraqi forces from occupied Kuwait. In addition to US, French and British forces Schwarzkopf also commanded an array of Arab troops from Egypt, Qatar, Syria and the United Arab Emirates. After a months-long buildup, operation Desert Storm was launched in January 1991. As the arab armies thrust into Kuwait, British and French forces- along with the US 101st Airborne Division, the 24th Infantry Division, 1st Armored Division and 3rd Armored Cavalry regiment- swept across the Saudi-Iraq border west of Kuwait, flanking Saddam's forces and decimating Iraqi armor and infantry as airstrikes continually bombarded Baghdad.

The results were devestating for Iraq's military, with as many as 35,000 killed by coalition forces while allied losses were fewer than 500. However, with Saddam's forces in disarray and full retreat into Baghdad, there was finishing thrust into the Iraqi capital by US and coalition forces at the time because the objective had been to remove Iraqi forces from Kuwait [I know for a fact there was a giant road sign in English and Arabic measuring the distance to Basra and Baghdad displayed in a motor pool in Ft Stewart, GA in the late 1990s- NANESB!].

Schwarzkopf retired from the Army the following year and wrote a biography called 'It Doesn't Take A Hero'. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth and recieved honors from France, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Belgium, Qatar and Bahrain. Aside from a brief stint as an NBC military commentator, the retired general mostly avoided politics and the spotlight, occasionaly acting as a spokesman for National Prostate Cancer Awareness and serving on the Nature Conservancy board of governors.

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